Bodily doubt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


In this paper I explore the tacit underlying sense of bodily certainty that characterises normal everyday embodied experience. I then propose illness as one instance in which this certainty breaks down and is replaced by bodily doubt. I characterise bodily doubt as radically modifying our experience in three ways: loss of continuity, loss of transparency, and loss of faith in one’s body. I then discuss the philosophical insights that arise from the experience of bodily doubt. The paper uses a Humean framework with regards to bodily certainty, treating it as a taken-for-granted tacit aspect of normal experience. I argue that although bodily certainty is not rationally justifiable, we are nonetheless unable to reject it. Bodily certainty is thus revealed to be part of our brute animal nature. I conclude by suggesting that the study of pathology is a philosophical method useful for illuminating tacit aspects of experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-197
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Consciousness Studies
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Humanities Health and Science


  • Bodily certainty, bodily doubt, existential feelings, depression, illness, anxiety, mental disorder, pathology, philosophical method, embodiment, disability, trauma.

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