Towards Greater Freedom with Human Bodiliness: An Existential Hermeneutics

Ojara, Pius (2005) Towards Greater Freedom with Human Bodiliness: An Existential Hermeneutics. PhD thesis, Marquette University.

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Abstract

To begin with, in its discussions, this inquiry draws its principal nourishments from the thoughts of Gabriel Marcel, the French existentialist philosopher who died in 1 973 . This work, multidisciplinary in its relevance and scope, is about bodiliness as an excellent and great value; it is about an incarnational tradition and about a future in which we may develop a more freeing and affirming attitude toward our bodily relations with the self and others. The task is to focus more clearly on the liberative dimension, being, that gives richness and life to bodily human existence. Yet this dimension exists in tension with a fragmentary and restless dimension, the ego, which may weigh heavily upon human being and cripple human living in relation with others. This work is inspired by hope for the creation of a novel order that appreciates human bodiliness (that is, the concrete self-presentation and self-presence of the human being). In positively speaking of it in terms of richness and fullness, this work attempts a retrieval, valorization and appropriation of values and foundations that liberatively transform human existence. As concrete and self-presentational of the self, the body enables people to influence things going on in space and time. It is in this perspective that this inquiry examines the assumptions that inform the way persons talk about or relate with bodiliness or body-related considerations. The work sheds light on the pervasiveness and ambivalence of the sense of the self in mundane existence. An understanding of the fragility and restlessness which beset the human condition is the first significant step in delivering the body from an imprisoning indictment that frequently inspires sexist and racist contempt, tribal and ethnic demagoguery, disparaging name-calling and segregation. Fundamentally, a fragile sense of the self lends itself to racial, gender, and ethnic delinquency and domination, exploitation and eroticism that make it difficult for people to pool together and share aspirations, resources and hopes for a common future. The root problem which lays siege to bodiliness is a conditional sense of the self that stresses empirical categories of human reality as tools for self-canonization that provoke conflict, division and bigotry. What also becomes evident in this work is the perception that the question of human bodiliness is profoundly a question of concrete human existence. Bodiliness invades human experience and shared arena of life. At the same time, bodiliness points to a transmarginal dimension of human subjectivity and relationality which are deeply self-interpretative. Besides, in human bodily existence exist the human drive for a fuller and liberative life and the consciousness or the human sense of spirituality or sense of interiority. What is more, the current inquiry into human bodiliness makes evident the apprehension of the singularity of human life so that its physical and mental, the affective and spiritual dimensions are not seen as inclusive of one another. Cognitively, the different dimensions of life simultaneously enlighten, illuminate and empower one another in building up a mature and liberative sense of the self and human familial bonds. At the end. of the day the ego symbolizes human brokenness and fragility which also implicates the understanding that persons form of themselves in terms of past experiences. Selfand relational identities which sustain oppressive relationships and asymmetry of power arise from psychic alienation that the social environment inculcates and fosters through the categories of the ' good' and the ' bad' which permeate social life. Operationally, as people interact and transform one another, they form ethos and patterns of behavior that eventually sediments and become organize and rationalized in shared consciousness that define and/or describe human behaviors and norms in terms of what is good and proper to living and what is not allowable or permissible. It must not be forgotten that within the social milieu persons look to the future to make statements about their hopes, expectations and what they should be and become: hope for liberative freedom and relational care. It is the beauty of liberative fullness that raises the questions of meaning of life, morality and protests in the face of abuses and exploitation. Yes, the world of the ego is not the only world that patterns in human consciousness. There is also the world of being, the countersymbol by which the unfreedom of the ego is historicized and confronted, transformed and transmuted into transcendence. The encounter with being, always contemporary and constantly attractive, alerts persons to the sinful and corrupting nature of human personality and strivings. It also discloses the inbuilt capacity of persons and relationships for open-heartedness and bigheartedness. What is more, repentance and conversion are experiences that are co-terminus and co-simultaneous with the encounter with being, which is what hope is. Self-understanding and self-interpretation in the light of being is what grounds liberative reorientation of persons and human relations. While it is true that history is what gives shape, content and broadmindedness to character of persons and societies, it is also history, through relationships, that is the medium for loving growth in liberative fullness of life. The encounter with being is intrinsically salvific in that it is the disclosure and connectedness with salvational truth that grasps human imagination and embraces human responses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Existential Hermeneutics, Human Bodiliness, Freedom
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
Divisions: Comparative
Depositing User: Mr Christopher Mapunda
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2015 13:19
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2018 14:15
URI: http://thesisbank.jhia.ac.ke/id/eprint/256

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