The Ideas of God and Self Within a Phenomenology of Body

Michelle Rebidoux


Were I to give this paper a subtitle, it would be: “Revisiting the metaphor of the
body as house”; and if I were to give it a sub-subtitle, it would be: “The back
door, the front door, the bedroom, and the hole in the roof.” In the end I decided
not to add these sub-titles, not only for the sake of sheer titular manageability (if I
may put it that way), but also because, in doing so, a certain dualism of body and
soul or spirit1 might be thereby evoked. Of course, the image of the house as a
metaphor for the body⎯a house in which the soul or the spirit dwells, in which
perhaps it is even trapped⎯is a familiar one within the Western tradition.
Nevertheless, I will be appealing here to the metaphor of the body as a house in
the attempt to articulate an idea of God and of the self from within a
phenomenology of the body⎯and in doing so, precisely challenging any such
dualism. To begin with, by “body” I intend the lived body, bound up in some way
with an ipseic phenomenality, itself inseparable from the “sensual” awareness of
itself⎯and, of course, the word “sensual,” or “sensuality,” is what precisely is
going to be at issue in revisiting the metaphor. Indeed, in the phenomenological
literature of recent decades, the word “flesh” is often used to distinguish this
ipseic and somehow “sensual” self-awareness from the merely objective body
appearing in the world, one object among others, capable of being an object, to
some extent, even for the soul or self that “inhabits” it.2 To that extent, if any
dualism is to be identified here, it is less that of body and soul or spirit than that
of “lived body” and “objective body” or “body object.”

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