Bodies (that) Matter. The Role of Habit Formation for Identity

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Abstract

This paper will interpret Judith Butler’s theory of performativity and materialization as a theory of identity, and so put it into dialogue with a phenomenological account of habit formation. The goal is to argue that identity is developed already at a bodily level and that this takes place via the processes of habit formation. The constitution of subjectivity, in other words, requires at the most basic level some kind of bodily performativity. What follows intends to draw out the concept of ‘the body’ in Butler’s work, the role of which is surprisingly meagre given her clear favour of language signification in the elaboration of her theory of performativity. Alternatively, this paper will provide a phenomenology of habit formation that re-introduces the body not as thematic materiality, but as lived materiality. The body will therefore be conceived as something which is already skilful and creative, sensitive and vulnerable, and ultimately, as Butler anticipates, responsive to the intertwinement of individual and social aspects of identity formation. In this regard, I will argue for a performative theory of (bodily) habitual identity. This paper will interpret Judith Butler’s theory of performativity and materialization as a theory of identity, and so put it into dialogue with a phenomenological account of habit formation. The goal is to argue that identity is developed already at a bodily level and that this takes place via the processes of habit formation. The constitution of subjectivity, in other words, requires at the most basic level some kind of bodily performativity. What follows intends to draw out the concept of ‘the body’ in Butler’s work, the role of which is surprisingly meagre given her clear favour of language signification in the elaboration of her theory of performativity. Alternatively, this paper will provide a phenomenology of habit formation that re-introduces the body not as thematic materiality, but as lived materiality. The body will therefore be conceived as something which is already skilful and creative, sensitive and vulnerable, and ultimately, as Butler anticipates, responsive to the intertwinement of individual and social aspects of identity formation. In this regard, I will argue for a performative theory of (bodily) habitual identity. This paper will interpret Judith Butler’s theory of performativity and materialization as a theory of identity, and so put it into dialogue with a phenomenological account of habit formation. The goal is to argue that identity is developed already at a bodily level and that this takes place via the processes of habit formation. The constitution of subjectivity, in other words, requires at the most basic level some kind of bodily performativity. What follows intends to draw out the concept of ‘the body’ in Butler’s work, the role of which is surprisingly meagre given her clear favour of language signification in the elaboration of her theory of performativity. Alternatively, this paper will provide a phenomenology of habit formation that re-introduces the body not as thematic materiality, but as lived materiality. The body will therefore be conceived as something which is already skilful and creative, sensitive and vulnerable, and ultimately, as Butler anticipates, responsive to the intertwinement of individual and social aspects of identity formation. In this regard, I will argue for a performative theory of (bodily) habitual identity. This paper will interpret Judith Butler’s theory of performativity and materialization as a theory of identity, and so put it into dialogue with a phenomenological account of habit formation. The goal is to argue that identity is developed already at a bodily level and that this takes place via the processes of habit formation. The constitution of subjectivity, in other words, requires at the most basic level some kind of bodily performativity. What follows intends to draw out the concept of ‘the body’ in Butler’s work, the role of which is surprisingly meagre given her clear favour of language signification in the elaboration of her theory of performativity. Alternatively, this paper will provide a phenomenology of habit formation that re-introduces the body not as thematic materiality, but as lived materiality. The body will therefore be conceived as something which is already skilful and creative, sensitive and vulnerable, and ultimately, as Butler anticipates, responsive to the intertwinement of individual and social aspects of identity formation. In this regard, I will argue for a performative theory of (bodily) habitual identity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2020

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