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Dates and Fees

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Transfer Credit

Charles University in Prague uses the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). All course subjects must be approved by your home institution for departmental credit.

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Body and Corporeality

Course name: The Body and Corporealitys
Course number: PKIN708
Language of instruction: English
Credits: 3 ECTS
Contact Hours: 22
Term: Fall 2015, Spring 2016
Course meeting times: Will be updated
Course meeting place: Will be updated

Professor: Assoc. Prof. Irena P. Martínková, Ph.D.

Contact Information:
Office address: H225
Office hours: Will be updated

Course Description

In this course we shall think about something that we usually go through life without considering: the nature of our ‘embodiment’, and our relation to our own body. The main theories of the body will be introduced and examined, mainly within the scope of phenomenological and existential philosophy, and with reference to the leading philosophers of the body, such as, for example, Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Through them we shall be able to view the body from various perspectives, that can be found in (and will resonate with) our daily existence and our sporting lives, so that we are better able to understand ourselves and our activity.

Learning Objectives
Students will:
– Understand basic aspects of the philosophy of existence
– Learn about various ways of understanding human corporeality

– Understand our daily life with respect to corporeality
– Discuss corporeality with respect to sport

Course Prerequisites

Methods of Instruction
Partly lectures (with and without PowerPoint presentations), reading of short extracts of foundational texts: interpretation and discussion, discussions of various aspects of human corporeality in small groups.

Assessment and Final Grade

1. Assessment Type 1: Essay on one of the recommended topics 40%

2. Assessment Type 1: Individual presentation about a topic 20%

3. Assessment Type 2: Homeworks 20%

4. Assessment Type 3: Participation in sessions 20%

Marking scheme assessment PG 1-4 (1 = excellent; 4 = fail)

Course Requirements


The assessment essay should be on one of the recommended topics.
Criteria of evaluation: level of argumentation, scope and depth of coverage of a topic, originality.

Individual presentations

The presentation is an interpretation of a recommended text.
Criteria of evaluation: scope and depth of coverage of a topic, input from one’s own experience, aspects that engage other students.


Reading recommended texts before the lessons, being prepared for interpretation and discussion.

Participation in sessions

Engagement in groupwork, willingness to effectively and meaningful contribute to the sessions.

Attendance is mandatory.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1

Session 1: Basic concepts of the philosophy of existence
Basic (phenomenological) concepts of the philosophy of existence will be
introduced, e.g. ontology, subjectivity, etc., based especially on Heidegger’s work.
Text by Martínková and Parry (2011).

Session 2: Heidegger – basic characteristics of the human being
Introduction of basic characteristics of the human being (Existentialia), as
presented by Martin Heidegger:
Understanding, Being-there, Being-in-the-World
Being-towards-Death, etc.
Text by Heidegger (2007): 155–165.

Week 2

Session 3: Befindlichkeit
Befindlichkeit is a characteristic that is most relevant for the understanding of embodiment in Heidegger, also interpreted by Gendlin. It can be seen as “sich befinden” (finding oneself) that has three allusions: The reflexivity of finding oneself; feeling; and being situated, which can be clumsily translated as “how-are-you-ness” or “self-finding”.
Article by Gendlin (1978-79).

Session 4: The Body as an object
Identifying characteristics of understanding the body as an object.
Chapter by Descartes (1996).

Week 3

Session 5: The Body in everydayness: Instrumentality
Introduction of the theme of instrumental understanding and dealing with things in the world. The conditions and consequences of instrumental understanding for everyday life, sport and health.
Chapter 5 in Martínková (2013) and Breivik (2010).

Session 6: Skill acquisition
Discussion of instrumental understanding with regard to skill acquisition: from novice to expert.
Table 1-1 by Dreyfus (1986).

Week 4

Session 7: The Body and Movement
Discussion of the relation of movement and the body from different kinds of understanding: from the objective point of view ,and from the point of view of human existence (the subject).
Article by Martínková (2011): 217–223.

Session 8: The Lived Body: Sartre
Interpretation of Sartre’s description of corporeality.
Article by Sartre (1988).

Week 5

Session 9: The Lived Body: Merleau-Ponty
Interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s description of corporeality.
Focus on perception and its inter-relation to the body.
Selected chapter by Merleau-Ponty (2007).

Session 10: Corporeality in the Philosophy of Patočka
Presentation of Patočka’s ideas of the existence of the human being and the exploration of the topic of human movement (“three movements of human existence”) and discussion in relation to corporeality.
Article by Martínková (2011): 223–230.

Session 11: A guest lecture*

Week 6 Exams

Required reading

Breivik, G. (2010). Being-in-the-Void: A Heideggerian Analysis of Skydiving. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 37(1), 29–46.

Descartes, R. (1996). Meditations on First Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dreyfus, R. and Dreyfus, S. (1986). Mind Over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer. New York: The Free Press, Table 1-1.

Gendlin, E.T. (1978-79) Befindlichkeit: Heidegger and the Philosophy of Psychology. Review of Existential Psychology & Psychiatry: Heidgger and Psychology, XVI(I, 2, 3).

Heidegger, M. (2007). Phenomenological interpretations with respect to Aristotle: Indication of the hermeneutical situation. In T. Kisiel and T. Sheehan (ed.), Becoming Heidegger: On the trail of his early occasional writings, 1910–1927. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, pp. 155–184.

Martínková, I. (2011). Anthropos as Kinanthropos: Heidegger and Patočka o¬n Human Movement. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 5(3), 217–230.

Martínková, I. (2013). Instrumentality and Values in Sport. Prague: Karolinum Press.

Martínková, I. and Parry, J. (2011). An Introduction to the Phenomenological Study of Sport. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 5(3): 185–201.

Meier, K. V. 1988. Embodiment, Sport, and Meaning. In W.J. Morgan and K.V. Meier (Eds.), Philosophic Inquiry in Sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 93–101.

Patočka, J. (1998). Body, Community, Language, World. Chicago and La Salle, Ill: Carus Publishing Company.

Sartre, J.-P. (1988). The Body. In W.J. Morgan and K.V. Meier (Eds.), Philosophic Inquiry in Sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 103–105.

Further reading

Breivik, G. (2008). Bodily movement – the fundamental dimensions. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 2(3), 337–352.

Leder, D. (1990). The Absent Body. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Martínková, I. and Parry. J. (Eds.). (2012). Phenomenological Approaches to Sport. London and New York: Routledge.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2004). Phenomenology of Perception. London and New York: Routledge.

Sokolowski, R. (2000). Introduction to phenomenology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Welton, D. (Ed.). (1999). The Body: Classic and Contemporary Readings. Malden, MA, Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

* The exact time of this session is subject to change, depending on the arrival of the invited guest.

About program

SHO works, partly, under the assumption that in many contexts the theoretical and participatory aspects of physical education and culture are often experienced as separate phenomena. SHO’s aspiration is to […]

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SHO’s extracurricular programs are, but not limited to, the following opportunities: Guest lectures that correspond directly with the students’ studies SHO Buddy Program Sport and Cultural Events (there are several, […]

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