Body, World and Dress: Phenomenological and Somaesthetic Observations on Fashion


Hilary Putnam introduced the idea of the threefold relation between mind, body and world that it is necessary to take into consideration to adequately account for human perception and understanding. Recent philosophical debates on aesthetic practices that are characteristic of the present age have paid great attention to the fundamental role played by the body in our world-experience and, in case of the aesthetics of fashion (as part of the investigation of aesthetic experiences that have acquired an extraordinary power and significance in today's widely aestheticized world), also to the essential role played by dress to understand the human beings' particular relation to their own bodies. In this article, I first offer a general overview on the often problematic but nevertheless intriguing relationship between fashion and philosophy, and on the importance of the body/dress relation in the work of some relevant fashion theorists. Then, I focus on the contribution of Eugen Fink who inquired into fashion with great interest and accuracy, understanding it as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon and connecting it to other fundamental topics of investigation like the body and play. Finally, I show how these questions, and especially that of the central role played by the body in all aspects of our world-experience (where the body is understood as both a natural and cultural entity, or even as the place in which nature and culture intersect themselves), are also crucial in the philosophy of Richard Shusterman, and how the latter's reflections can be fruitfully compared to Fink's abovementioned phenomenological investigation of the significance of clothing and fashion.

Keywords: aesthetics of fashion, embodiment, phenomenology, pragmatism, Eugen Fink, Richard Shusterman

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