A Perspective on the Symbolization of the Body

Lewis, William F.
August 1986
Humanity & Society;Aug86, Vol. 10 Issue 3, p277
Academic Journal
In this paper, the author has attempted to demonstrate that the knowledge of the body has evolved from the human interests and motivations of particular local communities and not from the workings of a historical mind. The knowledge of the human body is then a symbolic construct having a role to play beyond the mere dispensation of knowledge on hygiene, sexuality and medicine. The meanings which are affixed to the feelings, parts and flows of human bodies are the sensuous foundation through which man has his world, understands it and finds significance in it, and this implies the embodiment of the body. The modern symbolization of the body arose over the dissolution of the embodiment of primitive peoples and prevailed over an insane concern with the limitations of the flesh in the Middle Ages. The study moves through three social contexts: the primitive, the feudalistic and the capitalistic worlds. The author finally concludes that capitalism dissolved the bonds that once related through mutual interdependence.


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