How the Body Shapes the Mind is an interdisciplinary work that addresses philosophical questions by appealing to evidence found in experimental psychology, neuroscience, studies of pathologies, and developmental psychology. There is a growing consensus across these disciplines that the contribution of embodiment to cognition is inescapable. Because this insight has been developed across a variety of disciplines, however, there is still a need to develop a common vocabulary that is capable of integrating discussions of brain mechanisms in neuroscience, behavioural (...) expressions in psychology, design concerns in artificial intelligence and robotics, and debates about embodied experience in the phenomenology and philosophy of mind. Shaun Gallagher's book aims to contribute to the formulation of that common vocabulary and to develop a conceptual framework that will avoid both the overly reductionistic approaches that explain everything in terms of bottom-up neuronal mechanisms, and inflationistic approaches that explain everything in terms of Cartesian, top-down cognitive states. Gallagher pursues two basic sets of questions. The first set consists of questions about the phenomenal aspects of the structure of experience, and specifically the relatively regular and constant features that we find in the content of our experience. If throughout conscious experience there is a constant reference to one's own body, even if this is a recessive or marginal awareness, then that reference constitutes a structural feature of the phenomenal field of consciousness, part of a framework that is likely to determine or influence all other aspects of experience. The second set of questions concerns aspects of the structure of experience that are more hidden, those that may be more difficult to get at because they happen before we know it. They do not normally enter into the content of experience in an explicit way, and are often inaccessible to reflective consciousness. To what extent, and in what ways, are consciousness and cognitive processes, which include experiences related to perception, memory, imagination, belief, judgement, and so forth, shaped or structured by the fact that they are embodied in this way? (shrink)
One of the most pressing philosophical problems in early modern Europe concerned how the soul and body could form a unity, or, as many understood it, how these two substances could work together. It was widely believed that there were three (and only three) hypotheses regarding the union of soul and body: (1) physical influence, (2) occasionalism, and (3) pre-established harmony. However, in 1763, a fourth hypothesis was put forward by the French thinker André-Pierre Le Guay de Prémontval (...) (1716–1764). Prémontval’s hypothesis, given the grand name of “psychocracy” (i.e., the dominion or the rule of the soul), held that there was a real influence between soul and body, but that this was an immaterial kind of influence as opposed to the physical kind that had been entertained heretofore. Prémontval’s hypothesis is the focus of this paper. I shall begin by sketching out the details of Prémontval’s hypothesis (Section 1), then proceed to consider its claims to constitute a true fourth hypothesis distinct from the other three (Section 2), before closing by briefly considering two objections and the responses either that Prémontval himself made or that may be made on his behalf (Section 3). (shrink)
Response to commentaries on ‘How to Solve the Mind Body Problem’ by Andy Clark, Daniel Dennett, Naomi Elian, Ralph Ellis, Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Stevan Harnad, Natika Newton, Christian de Quincey, Carol Rovane and Robert van Gulick.
"There are books—few and far between—which carefully, delightfully, and genuinely turn your head inside out. This is one of them. It ranges over some central issues in Western philosophy and begins the long overdue job of giving us a radically new account of meaning, rationality, and objectivity."—Yaakov Garb, _San Francisco Chronicle_.
Written over a span of more than two decades, the essays by Iris Marion Young collected in this volume describe diverse aspects of women's lived body experience in modern Western societies. Drawing on the ideas of several twentieth century continental philosophers--including Simone de Beauvoir, Martin Heidegger, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty--Young constructs rigorous analytic categories for interpreting embodied subjectivity. The essays combine theoretical description of experience with normative evaluation of the unjust constraints on their freedom and opportunity (...) that continue to burden many women. The lead essay rethinks the purpose of the category of "gender" for feminist theory, after important debates have questioned its usefulness. Other essays include reflection on the meaning of being at home and the need for privacy in old age residences as well as essays that analyze aspects of the experience of women and girls that have received little attention even in feminist theory--such as the sexuality of breasts, or menstruation as punctuation in a woman's life story. Young describes the phenomenology of moving in a pregnant body and the tactile pleasures of clothing. While academically rigorous, the essays are also written with engaging style, incorporating vivid imagery and autobiographical narrative. On Female Body Experience raises issues and takes positions that speak to scholars and students in philosophy, sociology, geography, medicine, nursing, and education. (shrink)
In this provocative book, Susan Bordo untangles the myths, ideologies, and pathologies of the modern female body. Bordo explores our tortured fascination with food, hunger, desire, and control, and its effects on women's lives.
The Rejected Body argues that feminist theorizing has been skewed toward non-disabled experience, and that the knowledge of people with disabilities must be integrated into feminist ethics, discussions of bodily life, and criticism of the cognitive and social authority of medicine. Among the topics it addresses are who should be identified as disabled; whether disability is biomedical, social or both; what causes disability and what could 'cure' it; and whether scientific efforts to eliminate disabling physical conditions are morally justified. (...) Wendell provides a remarkable look at how cultural attitudes towards the body contribute to the stigma of disability and to widespread unwillingness to accept and provide for the body's inevitable weakness. (shrink)
We are even less aware of our internal organs and the physiological processes that keep us alive. In this fascinating work, Drew Leder examines all the ways in which the body is absent—forgotten, alien, uncontrollable, obscured.
In _The Meaning of the Body_, Mark Johnson continues his pioneering work on the exciting connections between cognitive science, language, and meaning first begun in the classic _Metaphors We Live By_. Johnson uses recent research into infant psychology to show how the body generates meaning even before self-consciousness has fully developed. From there he turns to cognitive neuroscience to further explore the bodily origins of meaning, thought, and language and examines the many dimensions of meaning—including images, qualities, emotions, and (...) metaphors—that are all rooted in the body’s physical encounters with the world. Drawing on the psychology of art and pragmatist philosophy, Johnson argues that all of these aspects of meaning-making are fundamentally aesthetic. He concludes that the arts are the culmination of human attempts to find meaning and that studying the aesthetic dimensions of our experience is crucial to unlocking meaning's bodily sources. Throughout, Johnson puts forth a bold new conception of the mind rooted in the understanding that philosophy will matter to nonphilosophers only if it is built on a visceral connection to the world. “Mark Johnson demonstrates that the aesthetic and emotional aspects of meaning are fundamental—central to conceptual meaning and reason, and that the arts show meaning-making in its fullest realization. If you were raised with the idea that art and emotion were external to ideas and reason, you must read this book. It grounds philosophy in our most visceral experience.”—George Lakoff, author of _Moral Politics_. (shrink)
Malebranche holds that sensory experience represents the world from the body’s point of view. I argue that Malebranche gives a systematic analysis of this bodily perspective in terms of the claim that the five familiar external senses and bodily awareness represent nothing but relations to the body.
Many believe that a suitably programmed computer could act for its own goals and experience feelings. I challenge this view and argue that agency, mental causation and qualia are all founded in the unique, homeostatic nature of living matter. The theory was formulated for coherence with the concept of an agent, neuroscientific data and laws of physics. By this method, I infer that a successful action is homeostatic for its agent and can be caused by a feeling - which does (...) not motivate as a force, but as a control signal. From brain research and the locality principle of physics, I surmise that qualia are a fundamental, biological form of energy generated in specialized neurons. Subjectivity is explained as thermodynamically necessary on the supposition that, by converting action potentials to feelings, the neural cells avert damage from the electrochemical pulses. In exchange for this entropic benefit, phenomenal energy is spent as and where it is produced - which precludes the objective observation of qualia. (shrink)
The contribution of the body to cognition and control in natural and artificial agents is increasingly described as “off-loading computation from the brain to the body”, where the body is said to perform “morphological computation”. Our investigation of four characteristic cases of morphological computation in animals and robots shows that the ‘off-loading’ perspective is misleading. Actually, the contribution of body morphology to cognition and control is rarely computational, in any useful sense of the word. We thus (...) distinguish (1) morphology that facilitates control, (2) morphology that facilitates perception and the rare cases of (3) morphological computation proper, such as ‘reservoir computing.’ where the body is actually used for computation. This result contributes to the understanding of the relation between embodiment and computation: The question for robot design and cognitive science is not whether computation is offloaded to the body, but to what extent the body facilitates cognition and control – how it contributes to the overall ‘orchestration’ of intelligent behaviour. (shrink)
The distinction between the body schema and the body image has become the stock in trade of much recent work in cognitive neuroscience and philosophy. Yet little is known about the interactions between these two types of body representations. We need to account not only for their dissociations in rare cases, but also for their convergence most of the time. Indeed in our everyday life the body we perceive does not conflict with the body we (...) act with. Are the body image and the body schema then somehow reshaping each other or are they relatively independent and do they only happen to be congruent? On the basis of the study of bodily hallucinations, we consider which model can best account for the body schema/body image interactions. (shrink)
We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions. First, a theory might be physicalist or dualist. Second, a theory might endorse any of these three views regarding causal relations between phenomenal properties (properties that characterize states of our consciousness) and physical properties: nomism (the two kinds of property interact through deterministic laws), acausalism (they do not causally interact), and anomalism (they interact but not through deterministic laws). In this paper, I explore anomalous dualism, a combination of views that has (...) not previously been explored (as far as I know). I suggest that a kind of anomalous dualism, nonreductive anomalous panpsychism, promises to offer the best overall answer to two pressing issues for dualist views, the problem of mental causation and the mapping problem (the problem of predicting mind-body associations). (shrink)
Contemporary culture increasingly suffers from problems of attention, over-stimulation, and stress, and a variety of personal and social discontents generated by deceptive body images. This book argues that improved body consciousness can relieve these problems and enhance one's knowledge, performance, and pleasure. The body is our basic medium of perception and action, but focused attention to its feelings and movements has long been criticised as a damaging distraction that also ethically corrupts through self-absorption. In Body Consciousness, (...) Richard Shusterman refutes such charges by engaging the most influential twentieth-century somatic philosophers and incorporating insights from both Western and Asian disciplines of body-mind awareness. Rather than rehashing intractable ontological debates on the mind-body relation, Shusterman reorients study of this crucial nexus towards a more fruitful, pragmatic direction that reinforces important but neglected connections between philosophy of mind, ethics, politics, and the pervasive aesthetic dimensions of everyday life. (shrink)
This paper investigates the role of a pre-existing body-model that is an enabling constraint for the incorporation of objects into the body. This body-model is also a basis for the distinction between body extensions (e.g., in the case of tool-use) and incorporation (e.g., in the case of successful prosthesis use). It is argued that, in the case of incorporation, changes in the sense of body-ownership involve a reorganization of the body-model, whereas extension of the (...)body with tools does not involve changes in the sense of body-ownership. (shrink)
People implicitly associate positive ideas with their dominant side of space and negative ideas with their non-dominant side. Right-handers tend to associate “good” with “right” and “bad” with “left,” but left-handers associate “bad” with “right” and “good” with “left.” Whereas right-handers' implicit associations align with idioms in language and culture that link “good” with “right,” left-handers' implicit associations go against them. Can cultural conventions modulate the body-specific association between valence and left-right space? Here, we compared people from Spanish and (...) Moroccan cultures, which differ in the strength of taboos against the use of the left hand, and therefore in their preference for the right. Results showed stronger explicit associations between space and valence in Moroccan participants than in Spaniards, but they did not show any increased tendency for right-handed Moroccans to associate “good” with “right” implicitly. Despite differences in cultural conventions between Spaniards and Moroccans, we find no evidence for a cross-cultural difference in the implicit association between space and valence, which appears to depend on patterns of bodily experience. (shrink)
The mind-body problem is the problem of explaining how our mental states, events and processes—like beliefs, actions and thinking—are related to the physical states, events and processes in our bodies. A question of the form, ‘how is A related to B?’ does not by itself pose a philosophical problem. To pose such a problem, there has to be something about A and B which makes the relation between them seem problematic. Many features of mind and body have been (...) cited as responsible for our sense of the problem. Here I will concentrate on two: the fact that mind and body seem to interact causally, and the distinctive features of consciousness. A long tradition in philosophy has held, with René Descartes, that the mind must be a non-bodily entity: a soul or mental substance. This thesis is called ‘substance dualism’ (or ‘Cartesian dualism’) because it says that there are two kinds of substance in the world, mental and physical or material. One reason for believing this is the belief that the soul, unlike the body, is immortal. Another reason for believing it is that we have free will, and this seems to require that the mind is a non-physical thing, since all physical things are subject to the laws of nature. (shrink)
The sense of embodiment is vital for self recognition. An examination of anosognosia for hemiplegia—the inability to recognise that one is paralysed down one side of one’s body—suggests the existence of ‘online’ and ‘offline’ representations of the body. Online representations of the body are representations of the body as it is currently, are newly constructed moment by moment and are directly “plugged into” current perception of the body. In contrast, offline representations of the body (...) are representations of what the body is usually like, are relatively stable and are constructed from online representations. This distinction is supported by an analysis of phantom limb—the feeling that an amputated limb is still present—phenomena. Initially it seems that the sense of embodiment may arise from either of these types of representation; however, an integrated representation of the body seems to be required. It is suggested information from vision and emotions is involved in generating these representations. A lack of access to online representations of the body does not necessarily lead to a loss in the sense of embodiment. An integrated offline representation of the body could account for the sense of embodiment and perform the functions attributed to this sense. (shrink)
The current debates dealing with empathy, social cognition, and the problem of other minds widely accept the assumption that, whereas we can directly perceive the other’s body, certain additional mental operations are needed in order to access the contents of the other’s mind. Body-perception has, in other words, been understood as something that merely mediates our experience of other minds and requires no philosophical analysis in itself. The available accounts have accordingly seen their main task as pinpointing the (...) operations and mechanisms that enable us to move beyond body-perception—and here acts such as inference, simulation, and projection have usually been the main candidates. This whole setting, however, seems to rely on a somewhat Cartesian assumption, according to which body-perception fundamentally amounts to the perception of a material thing, res extensa, starting from which we then strive to grasp the other as a res cogitans. Insofar as one begins with the question of how we can discover and understand mindedness in things that cannot be directly perceived as minded, the Cartesian setting is already taken for granted—and this is, in fact, exactly what most of the available proposals seem to be doing. From a phenomenological point of view, the Cartesian setting is untenable and seriously misleads the whole debate. The present article reassesses the role and status of body-perception in empathy. Making use of the Husserlian theory of expressivity in particular, the article engages a phenomenological framework of analysis, challenges the above-mentioned assumption concerning the nature of body-perception, and argues for the immediate nature of empathy. (shrink)
Intuitions based on the first-person perspective can easily mislead us about what is and is not conceivable.1 This point is usually made in support of familiar reductionist positions on the mind-body problem, but I believe it can be detached from that approach. It seems to me that the powerful appearance of contingency in the relation between the functioning of the physical organism and the conscious mind -- an appearance that depends directly or indirectly on the first- person perspective -- (...) must be an illusion. But the denial of this contingency should not take the form of a reductionist account of consciousness of the usual type, whereby the logical gap between the mental and the physical is closed by conceptual analysis -- in effect, by analyzing the mental in terms of the physical. (shrink)
Body and World is the definitive edition of a book that shouldnow take its place as a major contribution to contemporary existentialphenomenology. Samuel Todes goes beyond Martin Heidegger and MauriceMerleau-Ponty in his description of how independent physical natureand experience are united in our bodily action. His account allows himto preserve the authority of experience while avoiding the tendencytoward idealism that threatens both Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty.Todes emphasizes the complex structure of the human body ;front/back asymmetry, the need to balance (...) in a gravitational field, and so forth ;and the role that structure plays in producing the spatiotemporal field of experience and in making possible objective knowledge of the objects in it. He shows that perception involves nonconceptual, but nonetheless objective forms of judgment. One can think of Body and World as fleshing out Merleau-Ponty's project while presciently relating it to the current interest in embodiment, not only in philosophy but also in psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, and anthropology. Todes's work opens new ways of thinking about problems such as the relation of perception to thought and the possibility of knowing an independent reality ;problems that have occupied philosophers since Kant and still concern analytic and continental philosophy. (shrink)
Two studies investigated the development of infants' visual preferences for the human body shape. In Study 1, infants of 12,15 and 18 months were tested in a standard preferential looking experiment, in which they were shown paired line drawings of typical and scrambled bodies. Results indicated that the 18-month-olds had a reliable preference for the scrambled body shapes over typical body shapes, while the younger infants did not show differential responding. In Study 2, 12- and 18-month-olds were (...) tested with the same procedure, except that the typical and scrambled body stimuli were photographic images. The results of Study 2 again indicated that only the 18-month-olds had a reliable preference for the scrambled body shapes. This finding contrasts sharply with infants' precocious preferences for human faces, suggesting that infants' learning about human faces and human bodies follow different developmental trajectories. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Though most contemporary philosophers and scientists accept a physicalist view of mind, the recent surge of interest in the problem of consciousness has put the mind /body problem back into play. The physicalists' lack of success in dispelling the air of residual mystery that surrounds the question of how consciousness might be physically explained has led to a proliferation of options. Some offer alternative formulations of physicalism, but others forgo physicalism in favour of views that are more dualistic or (...) that bring in mentalistic features at the ground- floor level of reality as in pan-proto-psychism. My aim here is to give an overview of the recent philosophic discussion to serve as a map in locating issues and options. I will not offer a comprehensive survey of the debate or mark every important variant to be found in the recent literature. I will mark the principal features of the philosophic landscape that one might use as general orientation points in navigating the terrain. I will focus in particular on three central and interrelated ideas: those of emergence, reduction, and nonreductive physicalism. The third of these, which has emerged as more or less the majority view among current philosophers of mind, combines a pluralist view about the diversity of what needs to be explained by science with an underlying metaphysical commitment to the physical as the ultimate basis of all that is real. The view has been challenged from both left and right, on one side from dualists and on the other from hard core reductive materialists. Despite their differences, those critics agree in finding nonreductive physicalism an unacceptable and perhaps even incoherent position. They agree as well in treating reducibility as the essential criterion for physicality; they differ only about whether the criterion can be met. Reductive physicalists argue that it can, and dualists deny it. (shrink)
This book explores both the embodied nature of social life and the social nature of human bodily life. It provides an accessible review of the contemporary social science debates on the body, and develops a coherent new perspective. Nick Crossley critically reviews the literature on mind and body, and also on the body and society. He draws on theoretical insights from the work of Gilbert Ryle, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, George Herbert Mead and Pierre Bourdieu, and shows how the (...) work of these writers overlaps in interesting and important ways which, when combined, provide the basis for a persuasive and robust account of human embodiment. The Social Body provides a timely review of the theoretical approaches to the sociology of the body. It offers new insights, and a coherent new perspective on the body. It will be valuable reading for students and academics in sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies. (shrink)
Abstract: What grounds the experience of our body as our own? Can we rationally doubt that this is our own body when we feel sensations in it? This article shows how recent empirical evidence can shed light on issues on the body and the self, such as the grounds of the sense of body ownership and the immunity to error through misidentification of bodily self-ascriptions. In particular, it discusses how bodily illusions (e.g., the Rubber Hand Illusion), (...) bodily disruptions (e.g., somatoparaphrenia), and the multimodal nature of bodily self-knowledge challenge a classic view of ownership and immunity that puts bodily sensations at its core. (shrink)
According to widespread opinion, the meaning of body part terms is determined by salient discontinuities in the visual image; such that hands, feet, arms, and legs, are natural parts. If so, one would expect these parts to have distinct names which correspond in meaning across languages. To test this proposal, we compared three unrelated languages—Dutch, Japanese, and Indonesian—and found both naming systems and boundaries of even basic body part terms display variation across languages. Bottom-up cues alone cannot explain (...) natural language semantic systems; there simply is not a one-to-one mapping of the body semantic system to the body structural description. Although body parts are flexibly construed across languages, body parts semantics are, nevertheless, constrained by non-linguistic representations in the body structural description, suggesting these are necessary, although not sufficient, in accounting for aspects of the body lexicon. (shrink)
Body integrity identity disorder (BIID), previously called apotemnophilia, is an extremely rare condition where sufferers desire the amputation of a healthy limb because of distress associated with its presence. This paper reviews the medical and philosophical literature on BIID. It proposes an evidenced based and ethically informed approach to its management. Amputation of a healthy limb is an ethically defensible treatment option in BIID and should be offered in some circumstances, but only after clarification of the diagnosis and consideration (...) of other treatment options. (shrink)
War captivity is an extreme traumatic experience typically involving exposure to repeated stressors, including torture, isolation, and humiliation. Captives are flung from their previous known world into an unfamiliar reality in which their state of consciousness may undergo significant change. In the present study extensive interviews were conducted with fifteen Israeli former prisoners of war who fell captive during the 1973 Yom Kippur war with the goal of examining the architecture of human thought in subjects lacking a sense of (...) class='Hi'>body (disembodiment) as a result of confinement and isolation. Analysis of the interviews revealed that threats to a normal sense of body often lead to a loss of the sense of time as an objective dimension. Evidence suggests that the loss of the sense of body and the loss of the sense of time are in fact connected; that is, they collapse together. This breakdown in turn results in a collapse of the sense of self. (shrink)
This article is an attempt to analyse the experience of embodiment in illness. Drawing upon Heidegger' sphenomenology and the suggestion that illness can be understood as unhomelike being-in-the-world, I try to show how the way we live our own bodies in illness is experienced precisely as unhomelike. The body is alien, yet, at the same time, myself. It involves biological processes beyond my control, but these processes still belong to me as lived by me. This a priori otherness of (...) the body presents itself in illness in an uncanny and merciless way. The unhomelike breakdown of our everyday being-in-the-world suffered in illness is explored through Heidegger's notion of the world being a “totality of relevance”, a pattern of meaning played out between different “tools”. The lived body is compared to a broken tool that alters and obstruct sour way of being “thrown” and “projecting” ourselves in the meaning patterns of the world through feelings,thoughts and actions. The similarities and differences between this unhomelikeness of illness and the specific unhomelikeness of authentic understanding,reached according to Heidegger in existential anxiety,are discussed. In order to illustrate how the lived body can present itself as “broken” and “other” to its owner, and in what way this unhomelike experience calls for help from health-care professionals, I make use of a clinical example of a severe and common disease: stroke. (shrink)
Exploring the intimate tie between body movement and space and time, Lee begins with the position that body movement generates space and time and explores the ethical implications of this responsibility for the situations one’s body movements generate. Whiteness theory has come to recognize the ethical responsibility for situations not of one’s own making and hence accountability for the results of more than one’s immediate personal conscious decisions. Because of our specific history, whites have developed a particular (...) embodiment and body movement that generates places that can only be characterized as more comfortable and more enabling to whites. (shrink)
Contemporary theories of self-consciousness typically begin by dividing experiences of the self into types, each requiring separate explanation. The stereotypical case of an out of body experience may be seen to suggest a distinction between the sense of oneself as an experiencing subject, a mental entity, and a sense of oneself as an embodied person, a bodily entity. Point of view, in the sense of the place from which the subject seems to experience the world, in this case is (...) tied to the sense of oneself as a mental entity and seems to be the ‘real’ self. Closer reading of reports, however, suggests a substantially more complicated picture. For example, the ‘real’ self that is experienced as separate from the body in an OBE is not necessarily experienced as disembodied. Subjects may experience themselves as having two bodies. In cases classed as heautoscopy there is considerable confusion regarding the apparent location of the experiencing subject; is it the ‘real mind’ in the body I seem to be looking out from, or is it in the body that I see? This suggests that visual point of view can dissociate from the experience of one’s own “real mind” or experience of self-identification. I provide a tripartite distinction between the sense of ownership, the sense of embodiment and the sense of subjectivity to better describe these experiences. The phenomenology of OBEs suggests that there are three distinct forms of self-consciousness which need to be explained. (shrink)
Descartes argued that the passions of the soul were immediately felt in the body, as the animal spirits, affected by the movement of the pineal gland, spread through the body. In Leibniz the effect of emotions in the body is a different question as he did not allow the direct interaction between the mind and the body, although maintaining a psychophysical parallelism between them. -/- In general, he avoids discussing emotions in bodily terms, saying that general (...) inclinations, passions, pleasures and pains belong only to the mind or to the soul (NE II, xxi, §72). He is also keen to point out that our passions derive mostly from our bodies. However, like Spinoza (Ethics III, prop. XI, Scholium) he thought that some emotions such as joy can produce pleasures which can be described also in bodily terms. For example, in a short memoir Felicity he says that music can be a pleasure for the ears and symmetry can be a pleasure for the eyes. These more intellectual emotions are actions in the sense that they represent perfection emanating from their source, the absolutely perfect being, that is, God. The feeling of perfection may produce a state of well-being which concerns both the soul and the body. -/- In my paper I will trace instances of Leibniz’s remarks on how these kind of emotions affect the body. I will also discuss the different ways the body gives rise to passions in the soul. My primary source is Nouveaux essais, book II, chapter xx and xxi, but I will also discuss various other writings by Leibniz. (shrink)
I here address Descartes' account of human nature as a union of mind and body by appealing to The Passions of the Soul. I first show that Descartes takes us to be able to reform the naturally instituted associations between bodily and mental states. I go on to argue that Descartes offers a teleological explanation of body-mind associations (those instituted both by nature and by artifice). This explanation sheds light on the ontological status of the union. I suggest (...) that it affords a way of understanding how mind and body form a true unit without compromising Descartes' dualism. (shrink)
The mind-body problem arises because of our status as double agents apparently en rapport both with the mental and with the physical. We think, desire, decide, plan, suffer passions, fall into moods, are subject to sensory experiences, ostensibly perceive, intend, reason, make believe, and so on. We also move, have a certain geographical position, a certain height and weight, and we are sometimes hit or cut or burned. In other words, human beings have both minds and bodies. What is (...) the relation between these? Religion often tells us that we are really embodied souls released at death from our bodily prisons. Could this be right? (shrink)
Most bodies in this world do not have brains and the minority of animal species that do have brained bodies are descendents from species with more distributed or decentralized nervous systems. Thus, bodies were here first, and only relatively late in evolution did the bodies of a few species grow supplementary organs, brains, sophisticated enough to support a psychological life. Psychological life therefore from the beginning was embedded in and served as a tool for corporeal life. This paper discusses the (...) semiotically controlled dynamics of bodily existence that has allowed the evolution of these seemingly ‘unnatural’ mental and even linguistic kinds of species. It is shown how the skin, on the one hand, makes us belong in the world, and on the other hand, is part of the huge landscape of membranes across which the semiotic self incessantly must be reconstituted. The discussion moves on to the intracellular world of signal transduction through which the activity of single cells are put to service for bodily needs. The paper further considers the mechanisms behind homeostasis and the semiotics of the psycho-neuro-endocrine integration in the body. The concept of semiotic emergence is introduced and a holistic marker hypothesis for why some animals may have an experiential life is suggested. (shrink)
In “The Argument for Subject Body Dualism from Transtemporal Identity Defended” (PPR 2013), Martine Nida-Rümelin (NR) responded to my (PPR 2013) criticism of her (2010) argument for subject-body dualism. The crucial premise of her (2010) argument was that there is a factual difference between the claims that in a fission case the original person is identical with one, or the other, of the successors. I argued that, on the three most plausible interpretations of ‘factual difference’, the argument fails. (...) NR responds that I missed the intended, fourth interpretation, and that, in any case, with an additional assumption, the argument on the third interpretation goes through. I argue that the fourth interpretation, while insufficient as stated, reveals an assumption that provides an independent argument, namely, that in first person thought about future properties we have a positive conception of the self that rules out having empirical criteria of transtemporal identity. I argue that the considerations offered for this thesis fail to establish it, and that we do not bring ourselves under any positive conception in first person thought. I argue also that on the third interpretation, the first premise of the argument is inconsistent with the necessity of identity. (shrink)
Paper given at the 20th Biennial Meeting of the Hegel Society of America, University of South Carolina, October 24-26, 2008 -/- The local problem of the soul-body relation can be grasped only against the global background of the relation between Nature and Spirit. This relates to Hegel's naturalism: the idea that there is one single reality - living reality - and different levels of description of it. This implies, moreover, that it is possible to ascribe some form of naturality (...) also to the social body of institutionalized ethical life. Hegel’s position can thus be characterised as a kind of aristotelian social naturalism: this, at bottom, is the combined meaning of the Hegelian theses that soul is the substance of Spirit, and habit its universal form. (shrink)
We present the first large-scale, quantitative examination of mind and body concepts in a set of historical sources by measuring the predictions of folk mind–body dualism against the surviving textual corpus of pre-Qin (pre-221 BCE) China. Our textual analysis found clear patterns in the historically evolving reference of the word xin (heart/heart–mind): It alone of the organs was regularly contrasted with the physical body, and during the Warring States period it became less associated with emotions and increasingly (...) portrayed as the unique locus of “higher” cognitive abilities. We interpret this as a semantic shift toward a shared cognitive bias in response to a vast and rapid expansion of literacy. Our study helps test the proposed universality of folk dualism, adds a new quantitative approach to the methods used in the humanities, and opens up a new and valuable data source for cognitive scientists: the record of dead minds. (shrink)
We report the results of a cross-cultural investigation of person-body reasoning in the United Kingdom and northern Brazilian Amazon (Marajó Island). The study provides evidence that directly bears upon divergent theoretical claims in cognitive psychology and anthropology, respectively, on the cognitive origins and cross-cultural incidence of mind-body dualism. In a novel reasoning task, we found that participants across the two sample populations parsed a wide range of capacities similarly in terms of the capacities’ perceived anchoring to bodily function. (...) Patterns of reasoning concerning the respective roles of physical and biological properties in sustaining various capacities did vary between sample populations, however. Further, the data challenge prior ad-hoc categorizations in the empirical literature on the developmental origins of and cognitive constraints on psycho-physical reasoning (e.g., in afterlife concepts). We suggest cross-culturally validated categories of “Body Dependent” and “Body Independent” items for future developmental and cross-cultural research in this emerging area. (shrink)
We study the acceleration and collisions of rigid bodies in special relativity. After a brief historical review, we give a physical definition of the term ‘rigid body’ in relativistic straight line motion. We show that the definition of ‘rigid body’ in relativity differs from the usual classical definition, so there is no difficulty in dealing with rigid bodies in relativistic motion. We then describe The motion of a rigid body undergoing constant acceleration to a given velocity.The acceleration (...) of a rigid body due to an applied impulse.Collisions between rigid bodies. (shrink)
The documented appearance of body ornaments in the archaeological record of early anatomically modern human and late Neanderthal populations has been claimed to be proof of symbolism and cognitive modernity. Recently, Henshilwood and Dubreuil (Current Anthropology 52:361–400, 2011) have supported this stance by arguing that the use of beads and body painting implies the presence of properties typical of modern cognition: high-level theory of mind and awareness of abstract social standards. In this paper I shall disagree with this (...) position. For the purposes of the argument, body ornaments are divided in three categories: aesthetic, indexical and fully-symbolic, on the basis of the necessary and sufficient conditions to construct meaning for each category. As previously acknowledged by a number of authors, I will argue that the abilities considered by Henshilwood & Dubreuil necessarily apply only to fully symbolic ornaments and they do not extend to the aesthetic and indexical categories. Indeed, a series of situated strategies can be sufficient to process non-symbolic categories of ornaments, through their phases of initiation, understanding and maintenance. Since these strategies could be implemented also by non-modern cognitive architectures, it is concluded that early body ornaments are currently unable to support cognitive equivalence between primitive and modern human populations. (shrink)
I argue that, contrary to how he is often read, Spinoza did not believe that the mind and the body were numerically identical. This means that we must find some alternative reading for his claims that they are 'one and the same thing'.