Why We Dance introduces a philosophy of bodily becoming that posits bodily movement as the source and telos of human life. Within this philosophy, dance appears as an activity that humans evolved to do as the enabling condition of their best bodily becoming. Weaving theoretical reflection together with accounts of lived experience, this book positions dance as a catalyst in the development of the brains, compassion, ritual proclivities, and ecological adaptability characteristic of human beings. Aligning with trends in new materialism, affect theory, and feminist philosophy, as well as advances in dance and religious studies, this book argues that dancing has a vital role to play in reversing the trajectory of ecological self-destruction along which human civilization is racing.
In the first part, LaMothe investigates why scholars in religious studies have tended to overlook dance, or rhythmic bodily movement, in favor of textual expressions of religious life. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, LaMothe traces this attitude to formative moments of the field in which philosophers relied upon the practice of writing to mediate between the study of "religion," on the one hand, and "theology," on the other.
In the second part, LaMothe revives the work of theologian, phenomenologist, and historian of religion Gerardus van der Leeuw for help in interpreting how dancing can serve as a medium of religious experience and expression. In so doing, LaMothe opens new perspectives on the role of bodily being in religious life, and on the place of theology in the study of religion.
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