Practising culture through the body. On some phenomenological aspects of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology
The paper is an analysis of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice with regard to its phenomenological inspirations. They are revealed in the concept of habitus, which treats culture as a sphere of the body rather than the spirit. The body was rehabilitated in Western philosophy by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. There are numerous similarities between the two authors. The author of Phenomenology of Perception claims that understanding by the body — practognosis — is the fundamental way of being engaged in the world. Bourdieu stresses that habitus is habitation (Fr. habiter), i.e. intimacy with the world thanks to which many of our actions do not require intellectual consideration, thoughthey are by no means automatic. Merleau-Ponty’s concept of habitus as well as one’s own body (corps propre) discussed here are to overcome the oppositions of body–mind, awareness–unawareness, automatism–reflection and rationale–cause. Yet both authors are accused of antagonising these elements. In addition to citing selected examples of criticism, the paper also contains elements of Bourdieu’s theory of practice that lie outside the horizon of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy.