A proposal for a fourth body. Ihde's Three Bodies and the Qi-play body
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The concept of Qi in Chinese medicine is seen as the basis of all phenomena in the universe. Qi expresses the continuum of matter and energy, as it is now understood by modern particle physics. Macciocia (1989, p. 36) This research examines how the concept of Qi, as understood in Taoism and traditional Chinese medicine, offers a model for understanding embodiment and play in online environments. The study tests whether and to what extent, Qi and play are embedded within the nexus of the body, embodiment and virtuality in online immersive environments. The philosopher Don Ihde (2002) addresses the theme of virtual bodies in relation to the lived body. This thesis builds on the notion of Ihde’s concept of three bodies and makes a case for a fourth body. The theoretical framework for this discursive study is anchored in two distinct areas of knowledge. The first presents Qi and the holistic perspective of traditional Chinese medicine whilst the second area presents published texts from theorists concerning the nature of virtuality and embodiment in online immersive environments. Both domains are tested against ideas of ‘play’ acknowledging the existence of the universal Qi body. The argument for this thesis identifies parallels between the Qi body and the experience of play in online environments.