Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 243–261 | Cite as

The body in action

  • Thor GrunbaumEmail author
Regular article


This article is about how to describe an agent’s awareness of her bodily movements when she is aware of executing an action for a reason. Against current orthodoxy, I want to defend the claim that the agent’s experience of moving has an epistemic place in the agent’s awareness of her own intentional action. In “The problem,” I describe why this should be thought to be problematic. In “Motives for denying epistemic role,” I state some of the main motives for denying that bodily awareness has any epistemic role to play in the content of the agent’s awareness of her own action. In “Kinaesthetic awareness and control,” I sketch how I think the experience of moving and the bodily sense of agency or control are best described. On this background, I move on to present, in “Arguments for epistemic role,” three arguments in favour of the claim that normally the experience of moving is epistemically important to one’s awareness of acting intentionally. In the final “Concluding remarks,” I round off by raising some of the worries that motivated the denial of my claim in the first place.


Bodily awareness Intentional action Epistemology of action Sense of agency and ownership 



The author wishes to thank Johannes Roessler, Dan Zahavi, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful discussions and criticism of earlier versions of the paper. The research for this paper was funded by the Danish National Research Foundation and the Carlsberg Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Subjectivity Research & Sect. for Philosophy, Department of Media, Cognition and CommunicationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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