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Toward a Phenomenology of the Anxious Body

Final Report Summary - TPAB (Toward a Phenomenology of the Anxious Body)

Toward a Phenomenology of the Anxious Body (TPAB) is a study of anxiety, which employs an interdisciplinary methodology involving philosophy, cognitive science, and psychoanalysis. While the concept of anxiety has assumed a central role in the history of philosophy since the time of
Kierkegaard up to Heidegger, a sustained and rigorous study of anxiety and the bodily self remains incomplete. The TPAB project attends to this oversight. To achieve this, the project uses an original and novel methodology that combines a first-person perspective with theories of psychoanalysis as well as recent empirical work. To understand the meaning of anxiety as it plays a role in our theoretical and experiential account of being a bodily subject, more than one disciplinary perspective is required. Anxiety’s complexity exceeds the confines of any given method, and therefore implicates an interdisciplinary methodology involving philosophy, cognitive science, and psychoanalysis by necessity. While maintaining phenomenology as a foundation, the justification for incorporating other approaches is to establish a mutually edifying and complementary dialogue, which can allow us to gain a broader perspective of anxiety than would be available from one perspective alone.

Employing this framework, the project sets out to achieve the following aims:
1. RO1. To investigate the relation between anxiety and bodily subjectivity by focusing on key issues such as bodily ownership, bodily identification, and the materiality of the self. To ascertain to what extent anxiety challenges existing ideas of subjectivity.
2. RO2. To investigate the role other people play in contributing to the anxious person’s sense of self.
Moreover, to suggest that intersubjectivity is fundamentally an issue of intercorporeality (i.e. that the relation between self and other is founded in the body).
3. RO3. To explore how the anxious person’s bodily experience is manifest in their relation with spatiality. In particular, to argue that spatiality, far from a homogenous backdrop to experience, is co-constituted between body and world via the idea of mood.
4. RO4. To explore the issue of anxiety within notions of wellbeing and normativity. To achieve this by placing phenomenology and psychoanalysis in dialogue with one another. In doing so, to make an original contribution to the treatment and understanding of anxiety from both a theoretical and applied context.