Category: Edition 1 - May 2006
 
 

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pdf.png Editorial for Volume 6, Edition 1 (May 2006) - By Editor-in-Chief  

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The 1976 Winter Edition of Philosophy Today published a verbatim transcript of Der Spiegel's interview with Martin Heidegger which had taken place on September 23, 1966 but which he forbade to be made public until after his death as "it is neither pride nor stubbornness, but rather sheer care for my work, whose task has become with the years more and more simple and in the field of thinking that means more and more difficult." ...


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pdf.png Engaging the World of the Supernatural: Anthropology, Phenomenology and the Limitations of Scientific Rationalism - By Theodore Petrus  

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Scientific rationalism has long been considered one of the pillars of true science. It has been one of the criteria academics have used in their efforts to categorise disciplines as scientific. Perhaps scientific rationalism acquired this privileged status because it worked relatively well within the context of the natural sciences, where it seemed to be easy to apply this kind of rationalism to the solution of natural scientific problems. However, with the split in the scientific world between the natural sciences and the social sciences, the role of scientific rationalism, especially in the social sciences, becomes less clear-cut, with the ambiguous status of positivism in the social sciences making scientific rationalism more of a shaky foundation than a pillar of social science. The weaknesses inherent in scientific rationalism are most exposed within the context of anthropology, and particularly in the anthropological study of the supernatural, or supernatural beliefs. This paper will attempt to point out some of the weaknesses of scientific rationalism specifically within the context of the anthropology of the supernatural and religion. By doing so, it is hoped to show, with reference to some phenomenological ideas, that, while scientific rationalism does have its merits within anthropology, a rigid application of rationalism could become a limitation for anthropological studies of those aspects of human life that challenge Western scientific rationalism. The debate around the position of anthropology as a science or non-science is related to the issue of the role of scientific rationalism. This debate is indeed part of the history of anthropology and is as yet unresolved. As such, the ideas of several earlier scholars will be referred to in an attempt to contextualise the arguments presented in this paper.


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pdf.png The "Holy Grail" Experience or Heightened Awareness? - By Kathryn Gow  

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Can moments of spiritual atonement (the Holy Grail Experience) be explained away as heightened awareness and other more mundane worldly phenomena? The author posits that part of the puzzle can be accounted for by the following factors: hypnotic phenomena such as time distortion, time orientation, fantasy proneness, absorption and a movement from dissociation to association. Knowledge about sensory modalities, internal dialogues and peripheral sensing, and about meditation and awareness, may also help to verbalise this magical moment of "grace". Writings on conversion experiences and mysticism may also assist us in investigating this phenomenon, when time stands still, and when for brief moments in life we become absorbed in the wonderment of life at its zenith - a taste of eternity. Contextual elements of prior social isolation and sensory deprivation are investigated as possible contributions to this unique phenomenon. In this conceptual article, the author explores the Holy Grail experience from both spiritual and secular viewpoints.


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pdf.png Experiencing the Meaning of Breathing - By Stephen Edwards  

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This research was motivated by the author's personal experiences with various breathing methods as well as meaningful breathing experiences reported by clients, colleagues and friends. The meaning of breathing is discussed in relation to consciousness, bodiliness, spirituality, illness prevention and health promotion. Experiencing the meaning of breathing is to experience more meaning in life itself. Experiential vignettes confirm that breathing skills may be regarded as an original method of survival, energy control, improving quality of life, preventing illness and promoting health.


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pdf.png Getting Under the Skin: The Inscription of Dermatological Disease on the Self-Concept - By Tracy Watson and Deon de Bruin  

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Psychological factors have long been associated with the onset, maintenance and exacerbation of many cutaneous disorders. Chronic cutaneous disease is often visible to others so that social factors in coping and adjustment are thus highly relevant. Psychological factors tend, however, to be overlooked in the dermatological treatment domain when the skin problem is not regarded as life threatening. In 2004, at a meeting of the Editorial Board of Dermatology Nursing, the need for studies presenting the patient's perspective on living with a skin disease was discussed. It was thought that qualitative exploration of the patient's experience of cutaneous disease would provide medical and mental health care professionals with valuable insights and important information to help improve dermatology patient care. More specifically, it has been posited that qualitative exploration of dermatological patients' lived experience might help provide insight into the efficacy of coping strategies, the need for psychological counsel, and also the need for a more holistic understanding of this patient population rather than maintaining a dichotomous focus on either the mind or the body.
The primary aim of this paper is to prompt qualitative - and, in particular, phenomenological - research in the area of body disfigurement and self-concept in order to elucidate the lived experiences of people afflicted with disfiguring dermatological conditions, and as such to promote necessary change in the therapeutic domain.


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pdf.png Imaging the Visceral Soma: A Corporeal Feminist Interpretation - By Ingrid Richardson and Carly Harper  

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Feminist philosophers of technoscience have long argued that it is vital that we question biomedical and scientific claims to an immaterial and disembodied objectivity, and also, more specifically, that we disable the conception of medical visualising technologies as neutral or transparent conduits to the "fact" of the body. In this paper we suggest that corporeal feminism is well situated to provide such a critique. Feminist phenomenologists over the past decade have theorised embodiment in a number of critical ways, many deriving concepts from the work of Merleau-Ponty, and emphasising the pliability and diversity of our body images and corporeal schematics. Others such as Elizabeth Wilson, Cathy Waldby and Drew Leder have considered the interdependence of our inner biology or viscerality with the socio-cultural inscriptions of embodiment. In this paper, these adaptations of phenomenology, and their account of the specificity and depth of embodied being, will be discussed and applied to the discourse of biomedicine and the apparatus of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


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pdf.png Gesture, Landscape and Embrace: A Phenomenological Analysis - By Stephen Smith  

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Maurice Merleau-Ponty's 'flesh of the world' speaks to an embodied connection to the spaces we inhabit deeply, primally, elementally. Flesh suggests water and its circulations, air and its respirations, earth and its conformations, fire and its inspirations. Flesh speaks to our bodily relations with the elements of a more-than-human world. This paper explores the felt imperative to these relations where, as Merleau-Ponty put it, 'all distance is traversed' and wherein movement arises not specifically in the body, but in the nexus and intertwining of bodily engagement with the world. There is a primacy to movement that registers in the living body in its carnal ties to the elements of the world's flesh. The 'radical reflection' on the 'flesh of the world' to which this analysis aspires in turn bears upon the general field of gestural reciprocities and connections, providing the insight that intimate gestures of the flesh, such as the embrace, are primordial attunements, motions of rhythm and reciprocity, that emanate from the world in identification with it. The embrace is fundamentally, elementally, a gesture of landscape dwelling. A phenomenology of elemental motions provides the textual reminder that to be at home in various landscapes means to know what it is to be embraced corporeally, sensually, within the human and especially the more-than-human folds of the world.


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pdf.png Notes toward a Phenomenological Reading of Lacan - By Ryan Kemp  

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Phenomenological psychotherapy, while critiquing psychoanalytic theories, has always sought to draw on and be inspired by these (and other) approaches. To read psychoanalysis through the lens of existential-phenomenology opens, deepens and perhaps even rehabilitates this body of work. In this paper, the work of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is explored through a phenomenological reading of his early work. Aspects of his developmental theory, as well as certain of his theoretical innovations, are related to psychopathology and treatment and are explored and understood in phenomenological terms. Emphasis is placed on psychotherapeutic experience and understandings. The paper argues that there is much of value in Lacan's work and that it is more existentially rich than is often acknowledged.


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pdf.png Adolescents, their Parents, and Information Communication Technologies: Exploring Adolescents' Perceptions on how these Technologies present in Parent-Adolescent Relationships - By Willem Odendaal, Charles Malcolm, Shazly Savahl and Rose September  

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The differences between parents and adolescents in relation to information and communication technologies (ICT) are well documented, yet little is known about how adolescents experience these differences. The study reported in this paper therefore aimed to elucidate adolescents' views on these differences, and in the process to explore the possible impact on parent-adolescent relationships. The participants comprised 23 Grade 10 learners, conveniently selected from three high schools in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. The learners participated in focus group discussions and reported on the following: their experiences and perceptions regarding their parents' level of techno-literacy; their attitude towards, and use of, ICT in comparison with that of their parents; and parental regulations imposed on their use of these technologies. Thematic content analysis was applied to delineate themes emerging from the texts. Although the study confirmed that differences between parents and adolescents exist in relation to ICT, it calls into question other research that too readily portrays this aspect as being negatively experienced by the adolescent, and a threat to healthy parent-adolescent relationships. It was also evident that it is not possible to be conclusive about the impact that ICT may have on parent-adolescent relationships, without information on how parents and adolescents relate above and beyond these technologies. The importance of ICT in adolescents' lives emphasises the need to unravel the impact it may have on their well-being.


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