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Keywords:

  • philosophy of technology;
  • Mauss;
  • Bourdieu;
  • bodily technics;
  • habitus;
  • field;
  • practice;
  • rule

Abstract

The aim of this article is to contribute to a philosophy of technics by proposing an answer to the following question: what is the nature of the human body as an element of technical systems? The argument focuses on an examination of the phenomenon of bodily technics. This examination is guided by the conviction that Pierre Bourdieu's social theory can be read as contributing significantly to an answer to the above question. However, since Bourdieu's project is not directly aimed at enhancing our understanding of the technicity of the human body, a reading of Marcel Mauss's seminal essay on bodily technics is also discussed to set the stage for an examination of the technicity of the body and to justify the manner in which Bourdieu's theory is read here. Through a careful study of the key notions of habitus, field, practice, time and rule, Bourdieu's social theory is systematically presented and explored for its contribution to an understanding of the question raised in this article. In conclusion, a number of remarks are made on how the relation between Mauss and Bourdieu is to be understood and on the argumentative strength of Bourdieu's work.