Bodily Disorientation and Moral Change


  • Ami Harbin


Neglect of the moral promise of disorientation is a persistent gap in even the most sophisticated philosophies of embodiment. In this article, I begin to correct this neglect by expanding our sense of the range and nature of disoriented experience and proposing new visions of disorientation as benefiting moral agency. Disorientations are experienced through complex interactions of corporeal, affective, and cognitive processes, and are characterized by feelings of shock, surprise, unease, and discomfort; felt disorientations almost always make us unsure of how to go on. I argue that experiences of disorientation can strengthen the moral agency of individuals. I begin by clarifying experiences of felt ease and orientation. I then characterize disoriented embodiment by investigating select experiences that often involve or accompany disorientation, focusing throughout on how disorientation prompts changes in motivation and action. I conclude by charting how disoriented embodiments can help individuals become better moral agents overall, in part by challenging norms that restrict embodiment and undermining dualistic conceptions of the self.