Carnal Hermeneutics

Carnal Hermeneutics

Carnal Hermeneutics

Carnal Hermeneutics

Synopsis

Building on a hermeneutic tradition in which accounts of carnal embodiment are overlooked, misunderstood, or underdeveloped, this work initiates a new field of study and concern.

Carnal Hermeneutics provides a philosophical approach to the body as interpretation. Transcending the traditional dualism of rational understanding and embodied sensibility, the volume argues that our most carnal sensations are already interpretations. Because interpretation truly goes "all the way down," carnal hermeneutics rejects the opposition of language to sensibility, word to flesh, text to body.

In this volume, an impressive array of today's preeminent philosophers seek to interpret the surplus of meaning that arises from our carnal embodiment, its role in our experience and understanding, and its engagement with the wider world.

Excerpt

Richard Kearney and Brian Treanor

The essays collected in this volume all address, in one way or another, the theme of carnal hermeneutics—that is to say, the surplus of meaning arising from our carnal embodiment, its role in our experience and understanding, and its engagement with the wider world. the voices represented here are diverse, each contributing to the view that the work of Hermes goes all the way down, from the event horizon of consciousness to the most sensible embodied experiences of our world.

Why Carnal Hermeneutics?

In the first section, Why Carnal Hermeneutics?, we show why our project of carnal hermeneutics is central to hermeneutics more broadly conceived, and to explain in some detail why this focus is necessary, productive, and timely.

Carnal hermeneutics, as the opening essay indicates, offers a philosophical approach to the body as interpretation. How do we make sense of bodies with our bodies? How do we read between the lines of flesh and skin? Building on previous hermeneutic models—the “as-structure” of existential understanding in Heidegger, the dialogical play of questioning in Gadamer, the semantic surplus of meaning in Ricoeur—we try to show how the new “carnal” turn in hermeneutics ranges across a wide spectrum of interpretation, from head to toe, from sky to earth, from the most sacred and sublime to the most tactile and terrestrial. What we pro-

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