Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Corporeal Reflection

Lived body (corporeality) refers to the phenomenological fact that we are always bodily in the world.


When we meet another person in his or her landscape or world we meet that person first of all through his or her body. In our physical or bodily presence we both reveal something about ourselves and we always conceal something at the same time–not necessarily consciously or deliberately, but rather in spite of ourselves. When the body is the object of someone else’s gaze, it may lose its naturalness or instead it may happen that it grows enhanced in its modality of being. For example, under the critical gaze the body may turn awkward, the motions appear clumsy, while under the admiring gaze the body may surpass its usual grace and its normal abilities. Similarly, the person in love may incarnate his or her erotic mode of being in a subtle glow or radiant face or sometimes, under the eyes of the beloved, in a blushing response.