Since antiquity, "disembodied knowledge" has often been taken as synonomous with "objective truth". Yet we also have very specific mental images of the kinds of bodies that house great minds - the ascetic philosopher versus the hearty surgeon, for example. Does truth have anything to do with the belly? What difference does it make to the persuit of knowledge whether Einstein rode a bicycle, Russell was randy, or Darwin was flatulent? Bringing together body and knowledge, this text offers historical answers to such skeptical questions about the relationships between body, mind and knowledge. Focusing on the 17th century to the present, the book explores how intellectuals sought to establish the value and authority of their ideas through public displays of their private ways of life. Patterns of eating, sleeping, exercising, being ill and having or avoiding sex, as well as the marks of gender and bodily form, were proof of the presence or absence of intellectual virtue, integrity, skill and authority. Intellectuals examined in detail include Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Ada Lovelace.
The book addresses issues central to modern discussions about the nature of knowledge and how it is produced and incorporates history, philosophy, sociology and anthropology. 54 halftones, line illustrations