Can we really say that we own our bodies even if we are not free and someone can take something from our bodies?

  • 2
    Well, your computer is not free and can be taken away from you (even in parts)...does that mean that you do not own it? Also, possession is a mislead notion in terms of one's body, see philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/81145/17209
    – Philip Klöcking
    Nov 8, 2023 at 7:04
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    i pefer the claim "i am my body". ofc that does not rule out theft of some part of me that belongs to my body
    – user67675
    Nov 8, 2023 at 7:13
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    The possibility of theft doesn't invalidate the concept of ownership. If anything, if it's theft at all then that means I owned it before.
    – kutschkem
    Nov 8, 2023 at 8:40
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    We do not own "our body": we are our body. See Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (1945), page 475: "when I reflect on the essence of subjectivity, I find it bound up with that of the body and that of the world, this is because my existence as subjectivity is merely one with my existence as a body and with the existence of the world, and because the subject that I am, when taken concretely, is inseparable from this body and this world." Nov 8, 2023 at 10:18
  • 1
    According to your perplexity, after the mechanic has changed a part of your car, it's no longer "your car". Nov 8, 2023 at 14:46

3 Answers 3


As long as you are attached to your body, the body is yours. If you believe something has been taken away from your body then that will be the case. If you believe your freedom has been taken away then that will be the case.

If you are not attached to your body because one day you will die, then you will be detached from body. If something is taken away from body then there be no loss if there is a lack of attachment.


The brain on its own isn’t enough to generate subjective experience. Without the body, the self simply wouldn’t exist.

Catherine Tallon-Baudry, neuroscientist.

Wikipedia: A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached. Approximately 80–100% of individuals with an amputation experience sensations in their amputated limb.

Since consciousness - in general - is awareness of internal and external existence, it seems that consciousness emerges out of the wholeness of the body. In this sense that "feeling" of I am, encompases the whole body.

Ownership - on the other hand - by definition, is the state or fact of legal possession. I assume that the "feeling" of I am, is enough to justify this too.

  • But a body floating in a tank isn't enough either. Therefore, I own all of existence.
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 8, 2023 at 11:48
  • @Scott Rowe, sorry, can't get the point. Nov 8, 2023 at 11:49
  • That's ok, I'll share existence with you while you investigate :-)
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 8, 2023 at 11:53
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    @Scott Rowe, I didn't identify the "I" with the body, my words are that the "I" encompases the whole body in the sense of hold-within, and "owns" in in legal-social terms as a self determination right. Nov 8, 2023 at 16:04

I am not sure what you mean by not free and taking something from our bodies. What makes you think that we are not free? Do you mean mutilation? Apart from that, I think you may be raising an important issue about bodily integrity or autonomy. You have the right not to have your body interfered with. In my view, this guarantees reproductive rights and the right to die. References are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the USA.

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