Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 389–408 | Cite as

Perceiving subjectivity in bodily movement: The case of dancers

  • Dorothée Legrand
  • Susanne Ravn


This paper is about one of the puzzles of bodily self-consciousness: can an experience be both and at the same time an experience of one′s physicality and of one′s subjectivity? We will answer this question positively by determining a form of experience where the body′s physicality is experienced in a non-reifying manner. We will consider a form of experience of oneself as bodily which is different from both “prenoetic embodiment” and “pre-reflective bodily consciousness” and rather corresponds to a form of reflective access to subjectivity at the bodily level. In particular, we argue that subjectivity is bodily expressed, thereby allowing the experience of the body′s subjectivity directly during perceptual experiences of the body. We use an interweaving of phenomenological explorations and ethnographical methods which allows validating this proposal by considering the experience of body experts (dancers).


Reflectivity Self-consciousness Body perception Expressive behavior Ballet Contemporary dance Butoh 



We thank Dan Zahavi, Line Ryberg Ingerslev and Joel Krueger for their helpful comments on a previous version of this paper. DL acknowledges the support of the European Commission under the Marie Curie Research Training Network DISCOS (Disorders and Coherence of the Embodied Self) and the support of the “European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences, and the Humanities” grant by the Volkswagen Stiftung for the “Body-Project: interdisciplinary investigations on bodily experiences”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CREA: Centre de Recherche en Epistemologie AppliqueeParisFrance
  2. 2.Institute of Sport Science and Clinical BiomechanicsUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark

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