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The Lost SelfPathologies of the Brain and Identity$
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Todd E. Feinberg and Julian Paul Keenan

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195173413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173413.001.0001

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Body Image and the Self

Body Image and the Self

(p.81) 7 Body Image and the Self
The Lost Self


Oxford University Press

An intimate link exists between knowing oneself and knowing one's body. Two central aspects of the self are mirrored by the image of one's body: one's body is an indivisible entity that remains constant when the outer world changes, and one's body shares basic features with the bodies of other human beings. Thus, the body image reflects two essential properties of the self: it is a unique entity different from the external world, and it is one instance of universal human nature. The uniqueness and universality of one's body are recognized by most persons without a need for inference or reasoning. The immediacy of their recognition makes them candidates for being rooted in dedicated, perhaps even innately predetermined, neural structures. This chapter calls into doubt this conclusion by demonstrating that the body image is the fragile result of fleeting integration of current perceptual inputs, prior experience, and culturally acquired knowledge. The argument will be based on disorders of the body image resulting from either experimental manipulations or brain damage. The chapter focuses on two topics relevant to the two basic properties outlined above: awareness of the current configuration and permanent structure of one's own body and knowledge of the structure of human bodies in general.

Keywords:   self, body image, culturally acquired knowledge

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