Nov 9, 2015

Our Next Visiting Speaker Nov 20 - Dr. Michele Merritt

Dr. Michele Merritt will be visiting from the Department of Philosophy at Arkansas State University. She will be presenting a talk titled “Body Image Disruptions and Social Emotions: A Case for Externalism?" on Friday, November 20 from 1:30-3:30 in McCain Hall, Room 185. Dr. Merritt's abstract is as follows:

Eating disorders and body image disturbances have typically been characterized as debilitating preoccupations with one’s body, its size or shape, and relentless fear of losing control over it. While these descriptions are not inaccurate, a closer look at the phenomenology of and recent scientific findings regarding eating disorders reveals much more complicated experiences. Comparing anorexia to body dysmorphia, for example, many of the same underlying compulsions persist, and both disorders share similarities with the more general psychological umbrellas of ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety.’ Although ranging in severity and symptom, there is a commonality running through these multifaceted disorders. Instead of viewing this commonality as a subjective body-hate, however, I argue that what primarily marks phenomena like anorexia or body dysmorphia is an affective background, one that is constituted in social dynamics, thereby allowing the experience to be more collective. The ‘ideal body’ shows up against this emotive background and is therefore not a static internal representation, but is rather shared and extends beyond the body itself. I defend this controversial claim by examining the emotions that typically subtend eating disorders – shame, regret, embarrassment, etc. –in order to show that, as social emotions, these affective phenomena are always already implicating the other. The ‘other’ being implicated is often not just a single person, but a complex web of socio-political systems, norms, stereotypes, and standards.

We hope to see you there!

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