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Fashioned in nakedness, sculptured, and caused to be born: Bodies in light of the Sartrean gaze
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research. (Body/Embodiment)
2010 (English)In: Continental philosophy review, ISSN 1387-2842, E-ISSN 1573-1103, Vol. 43, no 1, 61-81 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In his writings on the gaze and the body in Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre describes the ways in which bodies are exposed and vulnerable to the anonymous gaze of the other, and how they in the midst of their vulnerability depend entirely on being seen by the gaze for their meaning and their very being. Although it sometimes appears as quite depressingly restrictive, Sartre's analysis of the gaze and his account of the body offer rich and important resources for recognizing the force of objectifying categories and meanings in the constitution of identities. This article suggests that Sartre's almost remorseless descriptions of how the body is molded by the gaze of the other provide a productive point of departure for understanding the becoming of singular identities, as they are lived on the margins and in the intersections of established categories which determine them in often oppressive ways. Being marked by difference, whether sexual, ethnic, racial, or other, is in many ways being trapped by the objectifying gaze of the other in such a way that the ability to return the gaze and claim a subject position is deeply circumscribed. The article gives an account of Sartre's analysis of the phenomenon of the gaze as the force which objectifies me before the other and of his description of the body as it is subjectively experienced as objectified. This "third ontological dimension of the body" captures the tensions inherent in subjectivity and brings to light its perpetual exposure to its own unknown exterior as it is seen and constituted by the other.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 43, no 1, 61-81 p.
Keyword [en]
Sartre, Gaze, Body, Subjectivity, Objectification, Intersubjectivity
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-136977DOI: 10.1007/s11007-010-9131-zISI: 000276709700004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-136977DiVA: diva2:377805
Available from: 2010-12-14 Created: 2010-12-14 Last updated: 2011-03-08Bibliographically approved

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