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As a body (from Middle High German Lip , "Life, body, body") is called in philosophy and theology the living body of humans or animals . When speaking of the body in contrast to the body, either a particular enhancement of the physical in the metaphysical sense (theology) or aspects such as the body's self-reference to the body (philosophy) can be meant.


In the theological sense, speaking of the body articulates the idea of ​​an individual connection between person and immaterial soul , since the biological concept of the body is not sufficient to determine a carrier for this unity. One also speaks of the "ensouled body".

The term body is particularly important in Christianity in relation to the body of Christ and the rite of Holy Communion . In pantheism , on the other hand, it stands for the conscious appearance of a universal spirit in nature.


Concepts of corporeality in philosophy refer primarily to the connection between body and consciousness . They have "become important in modern philosophy because of inadequacies in the traditional division of man into body and soul (or spirit, mental contents), whereby the soul is separated as the inner world and is only connected to the rest of the world through the body, while the body is directly in front of the conscious mind, but is distanced from this as an object of observation, reflection and use. [...] One looks for a meeting point in people for what is immediately gripping ".

In this sense, the body concept is particularly important in phenomenology . With its help, the role of body awareness for cognition in general and for philosophical reflection in particular is discussed. On the one hand, the body stands for the subject's physical relation to reality , but on the other hand, it is differentiated from the concept of the body: the body is that which can be objectively grasped and measured, while the body (as a subjectively felt body) is not accessible to such objectification processes. A body has one, while the body is . This body-body difference has been the subject of much discussion in recent discussions on cultural, social and neurosciences.

Edmund Husserl speaks of the body as "zero point" and describes it as a "strangely imperfectly constituted thing", which can only be experienced from the first-person perspective, but which at the same time eludes complete comprehension. Here it stands for the body's self-reference to the body, as it were for the practical, motoric fulfillment of life, as a "medium to the world".

Fundamentally elaborated, placed in relation to natural science and valuable as a basic concept for philosophy, the body concept was developed with the phenomenology of perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty . One can say that phenomenology advocates a 'body-body difference'. A phenomenology of corporeality was worked out in connection with Merleau-Ponty in the German-speaking area, mainly by Bernhard Waldenfels .

In the so-called New Phenomenology , Hermann Schmitz describes the body as that “what someone in the area (not always within the limits) of his body can feel of himself as belonging to himself, without the five senses, namely sight and touch, and to use the perceptual body scheme (the habitual idea of ​​one's own body) gained from their experience. "

See also


  • Emmanuel Alloa, Thomas Bedorf, Christian Grüny, Tobias Klass (eds.): Leiblichkeit. History and topicality of a concept , Mohr-Siebeck / UTB 2012.
  • Axel W. Bauer : body image and body understanding. The view of sick and healthy people in the history of medicine - illustrated using selected examples. In: Evangelische Akademie Iserlohn (Ed.), Conference Protocol 82-1977: 'Cold Embryos' and 'Warm Corpses'. Body understanding and corporeality. Christian anthropology and medicine. Conference of the Evangelical Academy Iserlohn from August 29 to 31, 1997. Iserlohn 1998, pp. 21–38.
  • Gernot Böhme: Ethics of bodily existence: About our moral handling of our own nature . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-518-29480-2 .
  • René Descartes : Description of the human body (1648). and: About people . Karl E. Rotschuh (Ed.). Lambert Schneider, Heidelberg 1968.
  • René Descartes : Meditations on the First Philosophy (1641) . Translated and edited by Gerhart Schmidt. Reclam, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-15-002888-4 .
  • Stefan Grätzel: The philosophical discovery of the body. 1st edition. Steiner Franz Verlag, Stuttgart / Wiesbaden 1989, ISBN 3-515-05430-8 .
  • Martin Hähnel, Marcus Knaup (Ed.): Body and life. Perspectives for a new culture of physicality. 1st edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2013, ISBN 978-3-534-25933-5 .
  • Michel Henry: Incarnation: A philosophy of the flesh (from the Franz. Von Rolf Kühn) . 3. Edition. Karl Alber, Freiburg / Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-495-48051-9 .
  • Edmund Husserl : Ideas for a pure phenomenology and phenomenological philosophy. Martinus Nijhof, Haag 1950–1952. (including vol. 1, § 90, p. 225 f)
  • Marcus Knaup: body and soul or mind and brain? A paradigm shift in the modern image of man . Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-495-48626-9 .
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty : The eye and the mind. Philosophical essays. Hans Werner Arndt (ed.). Felix Meiner, Hamburg 1984, ISBN 3-7873-1545-4 .
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty : Phenomenology of Perception . de Gruyter, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-11-006884-2 .
  • Hilarion Petzold: corporeality: philosophical, social and therapeutic perspectives . Vol. 25, 2nd edition. Junfermann-Verlag, Paderborn 1986.
  • Guido Rappe : body and subject . Projektverlag, Bochum 2012, ISBN 978-3-89733-255-3 .
  • Hermann Schmitz : Brief Introduction to New Phenomenology . 3. Edition. Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-495-48361-9 .
  • Hermann Schmitz : The body (basic themes of philosophy) . de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-025098-5 .
  • Hermann Schmitz : Leib . In: Kirchhoff, Thomas (Ed.): Online Encyclopedia Philosophy of Nature / Online-Lexikon Naturphilosophie . Heidelberg University Library, Heidelberg 2019: , ISSN 2629-8821.
  • Ernst Seidl u. a .: body knowledge. Knowledge between eros and disgust , MUT, Tübingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-9812736-1-8 .
  • Thorsten Streubel: Forgetting the body in the current brain-mind debate . In: Perspectives of Philosophy. Rodopi, Amsterdam 2010, ISBN 90-420-3182-4 , pp. 343-361.
  • Bernhard Waldenfels: The physical self. Lectures on the phenomenology of the body. 3. Edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-518-29072-X .
  • Our body. Between me and the world (= The Blue Rider. Journal for Philosophy . No. 26). Verlag der Blaue reiter, Hanover 2008, ISBN 978-3-933722-24-9 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Leib  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hermann Schmitz: Leib. In: Kirchhoff, Thomas (ed.): Online Encyclopedia Philosophy of Nature / Online-Lexikon Naturphilosophie. Heidelberg University Library, Heidelberg 2019: , here: Abstract
  2. Emmanuel Alloa, Natalie Depraz: Edmund Husserl, the body, a strangely imperfectly constituted thing. In: corporeality. History and topicality of a term. (= UTB-Handbuch. ) 2012, pp. 7–22.
  3. ^ Bernhard Waldenfels, The bodily self , Frankfurt / M. 2000.
  4. ^ Hermann Schmitz: Brief introduction to the new phenomenology . Munich 2009, p. 35.