Facial Embodiment in ‘Invisible’ Imitation

Beata Stawarska

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/ths.2003.008


If the self gains access to life proper exclusively from ‘inside’, through an evane¬scent first-person sense of being the subject of its own acts, feelings, thoughts and desires, then any manifestation of internal states in external behavior can count as an indirect translation of an invisible mind into a manifest bodily performance, which reveals as much as it masks one’s real intentions and desires. Social relations remain then a problem to be resolved rather than a field to be investigated. However, if embodiment is central to any theory of persons and to inter-personal communication, then the clear-cut distinction between the inside and the outside is blurred and the ‘problem’ of inter-personal communication ultimately resolved. If self and other are made of the same corporeal stuff and are similar despite differences, they can engage one with one another directly, through manifest behavior, without the need to translate some hidden invisible subjectivity into the visible mundane world. Communication begins already on the surface of the expressive face, in the tonality of the voice, in the affective charge of the gaze.


facial embodiment; imitation; communication; mirror theory; molyneux babies;

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