Psychophysical what? What would it mean to say ‘there is no “body” … there is no “mind”’ in dance practice?




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Taylor and Francis



Peer reviewed



There have been numerous attempts to solve the apparent dualism of ‘body’ and ‘mind’, purportedly uniting mutually incompatible binaries through hyphenation, the creation of compound terms, or the erasure of one of the terms entirely. ‘Psychophysical’, ‘psychosomatic’ (with or without the word ‘unity’), ‘mind-body’, ‘body-mind’, and, following Hanna (1970), ‘somatic’, have all been advanced as a means of articulating an undivided sense of human being. This discussion deconstructs this descriptive matrix in an attempt to expose the naked paradox of human being obscured by tacit assumptions hidden in language. In dance the idea of ‘body’ is often afforded priority. Dancers understanding of themselves in activity, whether performing or observing – in the fields of learning, creating or rehearsing – is critically affected by their conception of themselves as divided or unified beings. To say, ‘there is no “body” … or “mind”’ might facilitate a more productive, poietic sense of practice, a ‘thinking in activity’ that does not imply a dualistic ontology. This requires a practical philosophical perspective. Such ‘philosophical practicality’ in dancers’ practice may afford them greater resilience for their future careers against the fragmentation of dis-unity that thinking of ‘body’ or ‘mind’ engenders.


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Aristotle, dancer, Heidegger, mind-body problem, psychophysical, soul


Leach, M. (2018) Psychophysical what? What would it mean to say ‘there is no “body” … there is no “mind”’ in dance practice? Research in Dance Education, 19 (2), pp. 113-127


Research Institute

Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies