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Phenomenology, the Question of Rationality and the Basic Grammar of Intercultural Texts

  • Hwa Yol Jung
Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 46)

Abstract

This essay is an adventure in, and a critical exploration of, the postmodern condition. As a “postparadigm”, postmodernism is a critical response to the disenchanted spectre of modernity — philosophical, scientific, cultural, and above all life-worldly. It is concerned particularly with the translation of Western rationality into the reading of the non-Western world, i.e., the modernist prejudices in the production of intercultural texts on the “politics of modernization”.

Keywords

Western Philosophy Body Politic Ontological Difference Universal Civilization Marshall McLuhan 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Anne H. Soukhanov, “Word Watch,” The Atlantic, 260 (September 1987): 108. To be sure, postmodernism is a Malthusian, decentered cluster of diversified galaxy of voices, tendencies, trends, and trajectories all with surrounding halos and fuzzy contours whose interplay often seemingly defies a definition of consistent and coherent themes. Often postmodernism is equated with as well as differentiated from such other “postparadigms” as post-metaphysics, post-analytical philosophy, post-structuralism, and — even oxymoronically — post-philosophical philosophy. For extensive discussions on postmodernism, see particularly Ihab Hassan, The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1987); Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986); Matei Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987); and Steven Connor, Postmodernist Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Roland Barthes, The Rustle of Language, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1986), p. 72 (italics added).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, trans. Vern W. McGee and ed. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 170. Cf. Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist, Mikhail Bakhtin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984) pp. 349–350. Commenting on the nature of Dostoevsky’s literary discourse, Bakhtin gives us a further glimpse of his dialogism as infinitely open or — to use his own word — “unfinalizable” end in itself which marks itself off from the past dialectics of Plato, Hegel, and Marx: “… at the center of Doestoevsky’s artistic world must lie dialogue, and dialogue not as a means but as an end in itself. Dialogue here is not the threshold to action, it is the action itself. It is not a means for revealing, for bringing to the surface the already ready-made character of a person; no, in dialogue a person not only shows himself outwardly, but he becomes for the first time that which he is — and, we repeat, not only for others but for himself as well. To be means to communicate dialogically. When dialogue ends, everything ends. Thus dialogue, by its very essence, cannot and must not come to an end. At the level of his religious-utopian world-view Dostoevsky carried dialogue into eternity, conceiving of it as eternal co-rejoicing, co-admiration, con-cord. At the level of the novel, it is presented as the unfinalizability of dialogue, although originally as dialogue’s vicious circle.” Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), p. 252 (italics added).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Edward W. Said’s Orientalism (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978) has been a focus of the contemporary academic debate on Eurocentrism. He defines Orientalism as “a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient” (p. 3). He has recently added a sequel to it: Culture and Imperialism (New York: Aired A. Knopf, 1993). For an excellent discussion of Orientalism in relation to China, see Zhang Longxi, “The Myth of the Other: China in the Eyes of the West,” Critical Inquiry, 15 (1988): 108-31. For the marginality of Africa in Eurocentrism, see V. Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988) which underscores the Foucauldian leitmotiv that there is no pure system of knowledge independent of power and which shows that many African intellectuals themselves are drowned in the torrent of Europeanization.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), p. 336. Habermas continues the tradition of the Enlightenment’s modernity which seeks universal truth based on the autonomy of reason. Isaiah Berlin spells out the nature of the Counter-Enlightenment movement manifested in the cultural pluralism of Giambattista Vico in opposition to the rationalistic monism of the Enlightenment. See Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas, ed. Henry Hardy (New York: Viking Press, 1980), “The Counter-Enlightenment,” pp. 1-24 and “Vico and the Ideal of the Enlightenment,” pp. 120-129 and The Crooked Timber of Humanity, ed. Henry Hardy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), “Giambattista Vico and Cultural History,” pp. 49-69. “To a disciple of Vico,” writes Berlin, “the ideal of some of the thinkers of the Enlightenment, the notion of even the abstract possibility of a perfect society, is necessarily an attempt to weld together incompatible attributes — characteristics, ideals, gifts, properties, values that belong to different patterns of thought, action, life, and therefore cannot be detached and sewn together into one garment” (Against the Current, p. 129).Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    See Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, 2 vols., trans. Thomas McCarthy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1981-1987): vol. 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society and vol. 2: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. For Fred Dallmayr’s critique of the work, including its retreat from politics, see Critical Encounters: Between Philosophy and Politics (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987), chap. 3, “Life-World and Communicative Action: Habermas” pp. 73-100. For a critical account of Hegel and Habermas in relation to the question of modernity, see Fred Dallmayr, “The Discourse of Modernity: Hegel and Habermas,” The Journal of Philosophy, 84 (1987): 682-692. For an open-ended exposition of the connection between modernity and postmodernity, see Albrecht Wellmer, “On the Dialectic of Modernism and Postmodernism” (trans. David Roberts), Praxis International, 4 (1985): 337-361. Wellmer’s exposition concludes with the following “coda”: “[t]he dialectic of modernism and postmodernism is still to be written. Above all it still requires to be put into practice. ‘The age,’ writes Castoriadis, ‘calls for a change in society. This change, however, is not to be had without a self-transcendence of reason.’ Postmodernity, understood correctly, would be a project. Postmodernism, however, insofar as it is more than a fashion, an expression of regression or a new ideology, can best be understood as a search, as an attempt to register the traces of change and to allow the contours of that project to emerge more sharply” (p. 361).Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    Edmund Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, trans. David Carr (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970), p. 289.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), pp. 134–135.Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), p. 73.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Richard Kearney, Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers: The Phenomenological Heritage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), pp. 115–116. The most recent statement of Jacques Derrida on the subject is found in The Other Heading, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael B. Naas (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992). Cf. Roy Harris, The Origin of Writing (LaSalle: Open Court, 1986), chap. 2, “The Tyranny of the Alphabet,” pp. 29-56.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    “Translator’s Preface,” in Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), p. lxxxvii. For a Derridean deconstruction of the East, see Robert Magliola, Derrida on the Mend (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1984). For the author’s critical account of Derrida’s Chinese grammatology, see “Misreading the Ideogram: From Fenollosa to Derrida and McLuhan,” Paideuma, 13 (1985): 211-227.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    For the English translation, see Signs, trans. Richard C. McCleary (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964), chap. 5, “Everywhere and Nowhere,” pp. 126-158. See also Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Texts and Dialogues, ed. Hugh J. Silverman and James Barry, Jr. and trans. Michael B. Smith et al. (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    See Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, vol. 2, trans. Monique Layton (New York: Basic Books, 1976), chap. 1, “The Scope of Anthropology,” pp. 3-32. Lévi-Strauss’s polemic against Jean-Paul Sartre, The Savage Mind (La Pensée sauvage) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966) was dedicated “to the memory of Merleau-Ponty.” Lévi-Strauss’s contention that the Nambikwara Indians of Brazil had no written language of their own and that writing from Egypt to China serves as an “artificial memory” that became an institution of exploitation rather than enlightenment has provoked Derrida’s grammatological critique of Lévi-Strauss’s “ethnocentric oneirism.” See Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, trans. John and Doreen Weightman (New York: Washington Square Press, 1977), chap. 28, “A Writing Lesson,” pp. 331-343 and Derrida, Of Grammatology, pp. 101 ff. Needless to say, however, both Lévi-Strauss, and Derrida are self-professedly anti-ethnocentric.Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    Ibid., p. 139 (italics added). Merleau-Ponty’s conception of philosophy and nonphilosophy particularly in relation to Hegel and Marx is found in “Philosophy and non-Philosophy since Hegel” (trans. Hugh J. Silverman), Telos, no. 29 (1976): 43-105. Cf. Hugh J. Silverman (ed.), Philosophy and Non-Philosophy Since Merleau-Ponty (New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).Google Scholar
  15. 30.
    Ibid., p. 139. For Merleau-Ponty’s affirmation of Western values, see G. B. Madison, The Hermeneutics of Postmodernity (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), p. 73. If for Merleau-Ponty the flesh means — in the language of Madison (p. 67) — “the indivisible flesh … of the Earth Mother which englobes us all,” what would Merleau-Ponty say, were he alive today, about the connection between “technopoly” which is the alleged basis of Western superiority and the engulfing ecological crisis of humanity today? In The Resources of Rationality (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), Calvin O. Schrag invokes and incorporates Merleau-Ponty’s notion of “lateral universals” into his idea of “transversality” which is an attempt to split the difference between modernist hegemonic universalism and postmodernist anarchic diffusion: “The universal logos of logocentrism is dead. The transversal logos of communicative rationality is alive and well” (p. 164). Schrag’s transversality in relation to the grammar of intercultural texts deserves a careful evaluation which must be postponed.Google Scholar
  16. 31.
    In “A Chinese Philosopher’s Theory of Knowledge,” in Our Language and Our World, ed. S. I. Hayakawa (New York: Harper, 1959), pp. 299-224, Tung-sun Chang argues that the logic of correlation is to Chinese thought what the logic of identity is to Western thought. For a superb and detailed discussion concerning how kinaesthetics or the energetics of the body (ch’i) corresponds to the Sinitic logic of yin and yang, see Manfred Porkert, The Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine: Systems of Correspondence (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1974). Scott Warren traces the connection between modern Western dialectical theory and contemporary political inquiry in The Emergence of Dialectical Theory: Philosophy and Political Inquiry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  17. 32.
    Eccentricity signifies the condition of standing out and moving away from the center. For a discussion of centricity and eccentricity, see Rudolf Arnheim, The Power of the Center (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  18. 33.
    Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), p. 4. In Desire, Dialectic, and Otherness (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), William Desmond coins the term “metaxological” in an attempt to clarify “the problematic, ambiguous status of otherness in an exclusively dialectical approach”: “[t]his neologism [the metaxological], despite its unpleasing sound, has a very specific significance for our purposes, for it is composed of the Greek words metaxu (in between, middle, intermediate) and logos (word, discourse, account, speech). The metaxalogical relation has to do with a logos of the metaxu, a discourse concerning the middle, of the middle and in the middle. Thus it has a close affinity with the dialectical relation in as much as this may involve dialogue (dialectic as dialegein). For, like the dialectical relation, the metaxological relation affirms that the self and the other are neither absolutely the same nor absolutely different. But, unlike the dialectical, it does not confine the mediation of external difference to the side of the self. It asserts, rather, that external difference can be mediated from side of the other, as well as from that of the self. For the other, as much as the self, may be internally differentiated, imminently intricate; hence, it too can enter the middle space between itself and the self and from there mediate, after its own manner, their external difference” (p. 7).Google Scholar
  19. 34.
    There is a strong evidence that diatactics as a logic of human thought originates in the auditory mind before the rise of visual consciousness. See Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976).Google Scholar
  20. 35.
    Cf. R. G. H. Siu, Ch’i: A Neo-Taoist Approach to Life (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1974), p. 289. It should be emphasized that yin and yang, each individually or both collectively, do not symbolize singularity but configuration as a web of interdependence or vectoriality: as Siu writes, “In reality, … yin does not exist without yang, nor yang without yin. A truer model, then, would be one in which each of the actual yin and actual yang numbers is a resultant of many vectors, rather than being a singularity of its own. Thus,-1 may be the resultant of (+7,-8), (+8,-2, +15,-22), and so on. One should not be surprised, therefore, to find contradictions within the same person or event. These are intrinsic to being. A is both A and not-A” (p. 289). In short, yang and yin, each or both combined, are relational concepts. Benjamin I. Schwartz labels this encompassing nexus of yin and yang as “correlative cosmology” which corresponds closely to what Claude Lévi-Strauss calls the primitive “science of the concrete.” See The World of Thought in Ancient China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), chap. 9, “Correlative Cosmology: The’ school of Yin and Yang’” pp. 350-382. This work of Schwartz has cross-references to many great thinkers of the West. It is indeed a volume on comparative philosophyGoogle Scholar
  21. 37.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, ed. Claude Lefort and trans. Alphonso Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968), p. 94. For a brief account of Merleau-Ponty’s hyperdialectic and hyper-reflection (sur-reflexion) as the method of deconstruction, see Rodolphe Gasché, “Deconstruction as Criticism,” Glyph, 6 (1979): 184-189. The composer Leonard Bernstein plays with the term ambiguity in grafting his theory of music with Noam Chomsky’s linguistics. See The Unanswered Question (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  22. 39.
    For a discussion of European and Chinese thought based on the Heideggerian theme of ontological difference, see Johannes Lohmann, “M. Heidegger’s ‘Ontological Difference’ and Language,” in On Heidegger and Language, ed. and trans. Joseph J. Kockelmans (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972), p. 303–363.Google Scholar
  23. 40.
    Cues for the proposal that the yin-yang logic of correlation has no beginning and no ending come from David L. Hall, The Uncertain Phoenix (New York: Fordham University Press, 1982), p. 249 and Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 110.Google Scholar
  24. 42.
    Mark C. Taylor, Altarity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), p. xxiii.Google Scholar
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    Maurice Natanson, Anonymity (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), p. 138.Google Scholar
  26. 51.
    Clark and Holquist, Mikhail Bakhtin, pp. 244-245. The implications of Bakhtin’s dialogism for social, political, and moral philosophy is enormous since it is thoroughly interdisciplinary or, better, intertextual. By interweaving all the links between literature and culture, Bakhtin’s major achievement lies in the establishment of the “horizontal,” dehierarchicized world of dialogism as opposed to the “vertical,” hierarchicized world of monologism. However, it is beyond the scope of this essay to detail them. I have briefly discussed Bakhtin’s philosophy of language, genealogy of the social, and epistemology of the human sciences in relation to Giambattista Vico in “Vico and Bakhtin: A Prolegomenon to Any Future Comparison,” New Vico Studies, 4 (1986): 157-165. According to Clark and Holquist, Bakhtin’s dialogism “is not intended to be merely another theory of literature or even another philosophy of language, but is an account of relations between people and between persons and things that cuts across religious, political, and aesthetic boundaries” (Mikhail Bakhtin, p. 248). On this subject, see also Tzvetan Todorov, Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle, trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) and Critique de la Critique: Un Roman d’Appretissage (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1984), “L’Humain et l’interhumain (Mikhail Bakhtine),” pp. 83-102.Google Scholar
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    Emmanuel Levinas and Richard Kearney, “Dialogue with Emmanuel Levinas,” in Face to Face with Levinas, ed. Richard A. Cohen (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986), p. 27.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Jean-Paul Sartre, “Face,” in Selected Prose, vol. 2, ed. Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka and trans. Richard McCleary (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974), p. 67: “[i]n human societies, faces rule.”Google Scholar
  29. 61.
    See Taylor, Altarity. This is a “deconstructive” masterpiece on alterity in contemporary, postmodernist Continental thought. What Derrida’s neologism “différance” is to différence Taylor’s portmanteau word “altarity” is to alterity. Taylor writes that “Heidegger’s Mitte is not the Hegelian mean [Mitte] that mediates identity and difference by securing the identity of identity and difference. The delivery of difference is also the delivery from every form of all-inclusive identity that negates, reduces, absorbs, or swallows up otherness” (p. 44). Taylor’s discussion is concerned with not only one of the fundamental issues of postmodernism but also the most fundamental issue of philosophy itself where there is nothing outside of sociality and the question of sociality is that of alterity. For more ethically oriented discussions of postmodernism as a hermeneutic project, see John D. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987) and Calvin O. Schrag, Communicative Praxis and the Space of Subjectivity (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  30. 63.
    See The Conquest of America, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), p. 254. Cf. Michel de Certeau, Heterologies: Discourse on the Other, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), chap. 16, “The Politics of Silence: The Long March of the Indians,” pp. 225-262 which discusses the European “ethnocide” of the South American Indians by the logic of homogenized identity and the effort to decolonize their land and culture by proposing an alternative way of living in harmony with not only other human beings but also other things on earth.Google Scholar
  31. 67.
    Giambattista Vico, The New Science, trans. Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fisch (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), par. 1045 at p. 393.Google Scholar
  32. 70.
    For a phenomenological sociology of the body, see John O’Neill, Five Bodies: The Human Shape of Modern Society (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985). See also David Michael Levin, The Body’s Recollection of Being (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985), The Opening of Vision (New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988), and The Listening Self (New York: Routledge, 1989).Google Scholar
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    I. F. Stone, The Trial of Socrates (Boston: Little, Brown, 1988), p. 195.Google Scholar
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    R. G. Collingwood, The Principles of Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938), pp. 243–244.Google Scholar
  35. 83.
    See Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975). For the phenomenological formulation of the body as flesh, see particularly Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible and Paul Ricoeur, Oneself as Another, trans. Kathleen Blarney (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). In Beloved (New York: Penguin Books, 1988), Toni Morrison celebrates the African-American body as flesh: “Here … in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ‘cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you. And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking abut here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver — love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.’ Saying no more, she stood up then and danced with her twisted hip the rest of what her heart had to say while the others opened their mouths and gave her music. Long notes held until the four-part harmony was perfect enough for their deeply loved flesh” (pp. 88-89).Google Scholar
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    Kōgaku Arifuku, “The Problem of the Body in Nietzsche and Dōgen” (trans. Graham Parkes), in Nietzsche and Asian Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), p. 215. Yasuo Yuasa’s The Body, ed. T. P. Kasalis and trans. Shigenori Nagatomo and T. P. Kasulis (Albany: Stage University of New York Press, 1987) is an excellent account of an Eastern theory of the body-and-mind unity as achievement. It should be pointed out that the best part of Japanese philosophy is the production of an intertext which is at once Chinese, Indian, and Western as well as Japanese. Yuasa’s The Body brings out not only what is unique and, I might add, phenomenological in Japanese thought but also what is intertextual in the double sense of being (1) interdisciplinary and (2) intercultural. Yuasa writes that “in the East one starts from the experiential assumption that the mind-body modality changes through the training of the mind and body by means of cultivation (shugyo) or training (keiko). Only after assuming this experiential ground does one ask what the mind-body relation is. That is, the mind-body issue is not simply a theoretical speculation but it is originally a practical, lived experience (taiken), involving the mustering of one’s whole mind and body. The theoretical is only a reflection on this lived experience” (p. 18). In this nondualistic account or “molting” of the body and the mind, Dōgen must be singled out. For him, humans have the natural propensity to view the mind as prior to the body, but they acquire only by cultivation (i.e., zazen or seated meditation) the knowledge that the body is prior to the mind. See also Shigenori Nagatomo, Attunement through the Body (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992). For a discussion of the world as “one body” that attempts to integrate Western and Eastern views, see Drew Leder, The Absent Body (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hwa Yol Jung
    • 1
  1. 1.Moravian CollegeUSA

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