Carnal Hermeneutics

Carnal Hermeneutics

Richard Kearney and Brian Treanor

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780823265886

Publisher: Fordham University Press


Building on a tradition in which accounts of carnal embodiment are overlooked, misread, or underdeveloped, this book initiates a focus on carnal hermeneutics as such, as distinct field of study and concern. Carnal hermeneutics seeks to provide a philosophical approach to the body as interpretation. It begins with the recognition that human existence requires an art of understanding as well as a science of explanation. The former is rooted in our finite, spatio-temporal being-in-the-world, which calls for an account of meanings involving corporeal sensation, orientation, and linguistic articulation. The resulting hermeneutics transcends the traditional dualism of rational understanding and embodied sensibility, arguing that our most carnal sensations are already interpretations. Therefore, carnal hermeneutics truly goes “all the way down,” rejecting the opposition of language and sensibility, word to flesh, text to body. The essays collected in this volume are committed, each it its own way, to the interpreting the surplus of meaning arising from our carnal embodiment, its role in our experience and understanding, and its engagement with the wider world.

Table of Contents


Richard Kearney and Brian Treanor

Why Carnal Hermeneutics?

Mind the Gap

Brian Treanor

Rethinking the Flesh

Rethinking Corpus

Jean-Luc Nancy

A Tragedy and a Dream

Julia Kristeva

Matters of Touch

Skin Deep

Edward S. Casey

Touched by Touching

David Wood


Anne O’Byrne

Getting in Touch

Emmanuel Alloa

Divine Bodies

This Is My Body

Emmanuel Falque

Original Breath

Karmen Mackendrick

On the Flesh of the Word

John Panteleimon Manoussakis