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Pragmatism And Transactional Bodies Essay

1057 words - 5 pages

Moving onwards from the instrumentalist components of Dewey’s pragmatism, Shannon Sullivan uses this excerpt to support her case for the positive potential of pragmatic though within our current society. Previously established through Dewey’s theory on an organism’s life existing within and “through” skin, Sullivan harnesses the acceptance of the “transaction” allowing all processes to occur as a means positive transformation. Through the boundaries of sex and race, Sullivan reveals the human individual as a body no longer bounded by absolute substance. Instead, we can find direction and freedom within the dynamic relationship of body and environment, and address the impact of the ...view middle of the document...

Sullivan later cites the values and categorizations constraining the female gender and African American individual, drawing on Siegfried’s recent work for the development of her own “genealogical-phenomenological-pragmatist-feminist” philosophy (Sullivan 9). Recognition of the permeable nature of our body implies a constitution with all environments, whether they are social, cultural, physical, or otherwise. Our mutual influence and impact on one another allows for a relationship that is constantly reestablished by “means of shifts and changes in each other”, and is therefore subject to mutual transformation (Sullivan 6). This co-constitution with environment is based upon Dewey’s theory of human existence, as organisms transacting amongst a wide variety of cultural situations and surroundings. Centralized within her claim for the existence of transactional bodies, her focus remains upon disrupting binary gender and the confines imposed by this structure, hoping to remove all hindrances in pursuit of a “transactional” existence (Sullivan 5).
Rejecting the sharp dualisms in opposition to this existence, Sullivan uses aspects of “continental” philosophy to allow for the recognition of corporeality free from “opposition of bodies to nonmaterial aspects of human existence (Sullivan 5)”. When we formulate dualisms such as nature versus nurture, Sullivan says we mistake bodies as a component of nature that is originally “outside” or “prior” to cultural or social influence (Sullivan 5). Returning yet again to the pragmatism of John Dewey, Sullivan positively attempts to align philosophy with our “real” existence, with hopes of improving and enriching it. Ignoring the “monism” of bodies as a physical substance, pragmatic focus is turned towards bodily activity in conjunction with its environments (Sullivan 8). This action or activity is occurring across or “through” our environments, signifying a “pattern of behavior” which is in alignment with Dewey’s concept of the “mind”, undercutting another dichotomy similar to that of nature and experience or culture (Sullivan 8).
The value in exploring and recognizing the lived experiences of our bodies “attends to the specificities of transactions between bodies and environments”, but only in the method by which Sullivan avoids abrasion (Sullivan 8). The acceptance of a theory of corporeal experience does not mean she is bounded by the “complexities and messiness of bodies”, but rather is capable of turning towards our concrete experience as means for addressing the impacts of this constant transaction (Sullivan 9). Her transaction emphasizes our habit and lived...

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