This essay investigates the idea of self-proprietorship as the concealed ideological basis beneath our most fraught ethical discourses on bodily matters pertaining to birth, health, sex, and death. It questions the sense in which such discourses, and their corresponding societal practices, in turn serve as a practical apology for this troubling anthropology that has come to sustain capitalism. ‘Self-proprietorship’ is analysed for its phenomenological basis in the actual task of learning to own one’s body, traced in its early philosophical instantiations in Hobbes and Locke. These sources are then contrasted with an account of non-proprietary possession of one’s body, rooted in the astonishing authority granted the spouses in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a nuanced treatment of porneia and chastity, and the evocative bodily receptions of Christian worship.
- St. Paul