Much mischief concerning the concept of a human body is generated by the failure of philosophers to distinguish various important senses of the term 'body.' I discuss three of those senses and illustrate the issues they can generate by discussing the concept of a Lockean exchange of bodies as well as the brain-bodyswitch.
Inducing the rubber hand illusion (RHI) requires that participants look at an imitation hand while it is stroked in synchrony with their occluded biological hand. Previous explanations of the RHI have emphasized multisensory integration, and excluded higher cognitive functions. We investigated the relationship between the RHI and higher cognitive functions by experimentally testing task switch (as measured by switch cost) and mind wandering (as measured by SART score); we also included a questionnaire for attentional control that comprises two (...) subscales, attention-shift and attention-focus. To assess experience of RHI, the Botvinick and Cohen (1998) questionnaire was used and illusion onset time was recorded. Our results indicate that rapidity of onset reliably indicates illusion strength. Regression analysis revealed that participants evincing less switch cost and higher attention-shift scores had faster RHI onset times, and that those with higher attention-shift scores experienced the RHI more vividly. These results suggest that the multi-sensory hypothesis is not sufficient to explain the illusion: higher cognitive functions should be taken into account when explaining variation in the experience of ownership for the rubber hand. (shrink)
Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s “lived body” theory, we argue for a shift towards a lived-experience and body-specific curriculum in South Africa. Such a curriculum would view learning as a lived, embodied, social and culturally contextualised field. Its central aim would be to draw the learner into a plane of consciousness conducive to being awakened to the act of learning through an attitude of full attention. We specifically use the term “body-specific” to imply, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all curriculum (...) model, one in which lived experience and the “body” form the conceptual basis on which the curriculum is built. Consequently, we reject the orthodox cognitive conception of the curriculum which views learning as a mental exercise oriented towards the acquisition of pre-designed knowledge that is “outer fixed” and “inner constructed”. In contrast, we propose that learning should be outwardly constructed through lived experience and inwardly fixed as knowledge develops against the pre-noetic background of the lived world. Underpinning this is the essentially Merleau-Pontian notion that the knowledge we hold originates from our relationships with this world that are embodied in experience, and our engagements within society and culture. The “inner” and “outer” shift in learning infers a switch from pure, disciplinary, homogeneous, expert-led, supply-driven, hierarchical, peer-reviewed and almost exclusively university-based learning to experience-based, applied, problem-centred, trans-disciplinary, heterogeneous, hybrid, demand-driven learning. In such a curriculum, the role of the teacher would be to focus on how the world arranges itself around the learner and to guide learners to see how the world reveals itself to them through their personal lived experience. (shrink)
In this article, the notion of re-embodiment is developed to include the ways that rearrangement and renewals of body schema take place in rehabilitation. More specifically, the embodied learning process of acquiring wheelchair skills serves as a starting point for fleshing out a phenomenological understanding of incorporation of assistive devices. By drawing on the work of Merleau-Ponty, the reciprocal relation between acquisition habits and incorporation of instruments is explored in relation to the learning of wheelchair skills. On the basis (...) of this, it is argued that through learning to manoeuvre the wheelchair, a reversible relation between is established between the moving body-subject and the wheelchair. In this sense, re-embodiment involves a gestalt switch from body image to body schema. (shrink)
The question whether I am the same person at different moments has brought many difficulties for a long time. The problem with identity of things through time was already known in the ancient times especially when Plutarch asked whether a ship of Theseus with exchanged elements is still the same ship as before renovation. Today, we continue these considerations asking, for instance, if things, apart from their physical parts, also have temporal parts. The number of the proposed solutions to the (...) problem of identity and identity of persons at different times resembles wandering in a dark room with a scarf on your eyes. As a result, rather than coming closer to the light switch, we find concepts which suggest that personal identity is not important, or what is important is psychological continuity or identity which is only a matter of degree. So I can be the same person as I was in some part, in some degree. It sounds like a constitution person who likes darkness and does not need light anymore. Unfortunately, first of all, we still use successfully the concept of identity in an ordinary language, and what is more, the abandonment of the notion of personal identity results in a greater number of absurdities, so in consequence, we still do not have an idea how to treat personal identity. (shrink)
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)
Recent research has begun treating the perennial philosophical question, “what makes a person the same over time?” as an empirical question. A long tradition in philosophy holds that psychological continuity and connectedness of memories are at the heart of personal identity. More recent experimental work, following Strohminger & Nichols (2014), has suggested that persistence of moral character, more than memories, is perceived as essential for personal identity. While there is a growing body of evidence supporting these findings, a critique (...) by Starmans & Bloom (2018) suggests that this research program conflates personal identity with mere similarity. To address this criticism, we explore how loss of someone’s morality or memories influence perceptions of identity change, and perceptions of moral duties towards the target of the change. We present participants with a classic ‘bodyswitch’ thought experiment and after assessing perceptions of identity persistence, we present a moral dilemma, asking participants to imagine that one of the patients must die (Study 1) or be left alone in a care home for the rest of their life (Study 2). Our results highlight the importance of the continuity of moral character, suggesting lay intuitions are tracking (something like) personal identity, not just mere similarity. (shrink)
In his 1953 lectures at the College de France, Merleau-Ponty dedicated much effort to further developing his idea of embodied subject and interpreted fresh sources that he did not use in Phenomenology of Perception. Notably, he studied more in depth the neurological notion of "body schema". According to Merleau-Ponty, the body schema is a practical diagram of our relationships to the world, an action-based norm with reference to which things make sense. Merleau-Ponty more precisely tried to describe the (...) fundamentally dynamic unity of the body, i.e. the fact there are various possibilities how the practical "diagram" of body schema could be de-differentiated (in pathology) or further refined (via cognitive and cultural superstructures, symbolic systems). This chapter summarises Merleau-Ponty's interpretation of the notion, while contrasting it to the more traditional understanding of the body in phenomenology and recent philosophical texts dealing with body schema. (shrink)
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)
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.
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 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.
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)
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)
"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_.
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)
This chapter considers the sheer amount of literature associated with the exploration of consciousness in Indian philosophy. It focuses on a range of methodological and conceptual issues, drawing on three main sources: the naturalist theories of mind of Nyaya and Vaisesika, the mainly phenomenological accounts of mental activity and consciousness of Abhidharma and Yogacara Buddhism, and the subjective transcendental theory of consciousness of Advaita Vedanta. The contributions of Indian philosophers to the study of consciousness are examined not simply as a (...) contribution to intellectual history, but rather with a view to evaluating their relevance to contemporary issues, specifically to the mind-body problem. The presence of dualist positions with strong naturalist undercurrents in Indian philosophy, especially in the Nyaya and Samkhya traditions, rules out the possibility of treating the mind-body problem as an idiosyncratic feature of Cartesian metaphysics. (shrink)
Over the past decade, police departments in many countries have experimented with and increasingly adopted the use of police body-worn cameras. This article aims to examine the moral issues raised by the use of PBWCs, and to provide an overall assessment of the conditions under which the use of PBWCs is morally permissible. It first reviews the current evidence for the effects of using PBWCs. On the basis of this review the article sets out a teleological argument for the (...) use of PBWCs. The final two sections of the article review two deontological objections to the use of PBWCs: the idea that use of PBWCs is based on or expresses disrespectful mistrust, and the idea that the use of PBWCs violates a right to privacy. The article argues that neither of these objections is persuasive, and concludes that we should conditionally accept and support the use of PBWCs. (shrink)
Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a complex disorder characterised by self-starvation, an act of self-destruction. It is often described as a disorder marked by paradoxes and, despite extensive research attention, is still not well understood. Much AN research focuses upon the distorted body image that individuals with AN supposedly experience. However, based upon reports from individuals describing their own experience of AN, I argue that their bodily experience is much more complex than this focus might lead us to believe. Such (...) research often presents an overly cognitive understanding of bodily experience in AN, underplaying the affective, felt experience of individuals with AN, as well as descriptions of empowerment, strength and control reported in the early stages of AN. This paper seeks to enrich our understanding of bodily experience in AN as it progresses throughout the various stages of the disorder. I show how the classical phenomenological distinction between the body-as-subject and the body-as-object, as well as Leder’s conception of the visceral body, can inform our understanding of bodily experience in AN. I suggest that the project of self-starvation is an attempt to overcome the noisy demands of the visceral body, which are experienced as threatening the body-as-subject, through a process of objectifying the body-as-object. By cashing out AN as a project of radical bodily control that, tragically, comes to control the individual, we can capture important aspects of the bodily experience of AN and the temporal progression of the disorder. (shrink)
This paper takes a novel approach to the active bioethical debate over whether advance medical directives have moral authority in dementia cases. Many have assumed that advance directives would lack moral authority if dementia truly produced a complete discontinuity in personal identity, such that the predementia individual is a separate individual from the postdementia individual. I argue that even if dementia were to undermine personal identity, the continuity of the body and the predementia individual’s rights over that body (...) can support the moral authority of advance directives. I propose that the predementia individual retains posthumous rights over her body that she acquired through historical embodiment in that body, and further argue that claims grounded in historical embodiment can sometimes override or exclude moral claims grounded in current embodiment. I close by considering how advance directives grounded in historical embodiment might be employed in practice and what they would and would not justify. (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)
Thinking through the body: educating for the humanities -- The body as background -- Self-knowledge and its discontents: from Socrates to somaesthetics -- Muscle memory and the somaesthetic pathologies of everyday life -- Somaesthetics in the philosophy classroom: a practical approach -- Somaesthetics and the limits of aesthetics -- Somaesthetics and Burke's sublime -- Pragmatism and cultural politics: from textualism to somaesthetics -- Body consciousness and performance -- Somaesthetics and architecture: a critical option -- Photography as performative (...) process -- Asian ars erotica and the question of sexual aesthetics -- Philosophy as awakened life : everyday aesthetics of embodiment in American transcendentalism and Japanese Zen practice -- Somatic style. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore anomalous dualism about consciousness, a view that has not previously been explored in any detail. We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions: first, a theory might be physicalist or dualist; second, a theory might endorse any of the three following 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). 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)
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)
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)
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)
Recent neuroimaging studies of the psychedelic state, which have commanded great media attention, are reviewed. They show that psychedelic trances are consistently accompanied by broad reductions in brain activity, despite their experiential richness. This result is at least counterintuitive from the perspective of mainstream physicalism, according to which subjective experience is entirely constituted by brain activity. In this brief analysis, the generic implications of physicalism regarding the relationship between the richness of experience and brain activity levels are rigorously examined from (...) an informational perspective, and then made explicit and unambiguous. These implications are then found to be non-trivial to reconcile with the results of said neuroimaging studies, which highlights the significance of such studies for the mind-body problem and philosophy of mind in general. (shrink)
I use some recent formal work on measuring causation to explore a suggestion by James Woodward: that the notion of causal specificity can clarify the distinction in biology between permissive and instructive causes. This distinction arises when a complex developmental process, such as the formation of an entire body part, can be triggered by a simple switch, such as the presence of particular protein. In such cases, the protein is said to merely induce or "permit" the developmental process, (...) whilst the causal "instructions" for guiding that process are already prefigured within the cells. I construct a novel model that expresses in a simple and tractable way the relevant causal structure of biological development and then use a measure of causal specificity to analyse the model. I show that the permissive-instructive distinction cannot be captured by simply contrasting the specificity of two causes as Woodward proposes, and instead introduce an alternative, hierarchical approach to analysing the interaction between two causes. The resulting analysis highlights the importance of focusing on gene regulation, rather than just the coding regions, when analysing the distinctive causal power of genes. (shrink)
This book investigates the concept of body shame and explores its significance when considering philosophical accounts of embodied subjectivity, providing phenomenological reflections on how the body is shaped by social forces.
This chapter offers an indirect defence of the Evansian conception of egocentric space, by showing how it resolves a puzzle concerning the unity of egocentric spatial perception. The chapter outlines several common assumptions about egocentric perspectival structure and argues that a subject’s experience, both within and across her sensory modalities, may involve multiple structures of this kind. This raises the question of how perspectival unity is achieved, such that these perspectival structures form a complex whole, rather than merely disunified set (...) of individually, distinctively structured experiences. The shortcomings of variety of accounts are considered: switch accounts ; sensory accounts; transformation accounts; and ultimate accounts. These shortcomings are addressed by a further kind of account provided by the Evansian conception – an agentive account – according to which egocentrically structured experiences present the world in relation to parts of a single thing, the body as a dynamic unity. (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)
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)
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 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 mind-body problem is analyzed in a physicalist perspective. By combining the concepts of emergence and algorithmic information theory in a thought experiment employing a basic nonlinear process, it is shown that epistemically strongly emergent properties may develop in a physical system. Turning to the significantly more complex neural network of the brain it is subsequently argued that consciousness is epistemically emergent. Thus reductionist understanding of consciousness appears not possible; the mind-body problem does not have a reductionist solution. (...) The ontologically emergent character of consciousness is then identified from a combinatorial analysis relating to universal limits set by quantum mechanics, implying that consciousness is fundamentally irreducible to low-level phenomena. (shrink)
In his Meditations Descartes concludes that he is a res cogitans, an unextended entity whose essence is to be conscious. His reasoning in support of the conclusion that he exists entirely distinct from his body has seemed unconvincing to his critics. I attempt to show that the reasoning which he offers in support of his conclusion. although mistaken, is more plausible and his mistakes more interesting than his critics have acknowledged.
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)
CURRENT CONTROVERSIES about the Mind-Body Identity Theory form a case-study for the investigation of the methods practiced by linguistic philosophers. Recent criticisms of these methods question that philosophers can discern lines of demarcation between "categories" of entities, and thereby diagnose "conceptual confusions" in "reductionist" philosophical theories. Such doubts arise once we see that it is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to draw a firm line between the "conceptual" and the "empirical," and thus to differentiate between a statement embodying a (...) conceptual confusion and one that expresses a surprising empirical result. The proponent of the Identity Theory are identical with certain brain-processes) holds that his opponents' arguments to the effect that empirical inquiry could not identify brain-processes and sensations are admirable illustrations of this difficulty. For, he argues, the classifications of linguistic expressions that are the ground of his opponents' criticism are classifications of a language which is as it is because it is the language spoken at a given stage of empirical inquiry. But the sort of empirical results that would show brain processes and sensations to be identical would also bring about changes in our ways of speaking. These changes would make these classifications out of date. To argue against the Identity Theory on the basis of the way we talk now is like arguing against an assertion that supernatural phenomena are identical with certain natural phenomena on the basis of the way in which superstitious people talk. There is simply no such thing as a method of classifying linguistic expressions that has results guaranteed to remain intact despite the results of future empirical inquiry. Thus in this area there is no method which will have the sort of magisterial neutrality of which linguistic philosophers fondly dream. (shrink)
In the article, I propose that the body phantom is a phenomenal and functional model of one’s own body. This model has two aspects. On the one hand, it functions as a tacit sensory representation of the body that is at the same time related to the motor aspects of body functioning. On the other hand, it also has a phenomenal aspect as it constitutes the content of conscious bodily experience. This sort of tacit, functional and (...) sensory model is related to the spatial parameters of the physical body. In the article, I postulate that this functional model or map is of crucial importance to the felt ownership parameters of the body, which are themselves considered as constituting the phenomenal aspect of the aforementioned model. (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)
The idea that mind and body are distinct entities that interact is often claimed to be incompatible with physics. The aim of this paper is to disprove this claim. To this end, we construct a broad mathematical framework that describes theories with mind-body interaction (MBI) as an extension of current physical theories. We employ histories theory, i.e., a formulation of physical theories in which a physical system is described in terms of (i) a set of propositions about possible (...) evolutions of the system and (ii) a probability assignment to such propositions. The notion of dynamics is incorporated into the probability rule. As this formulation emphasises logical and probabilistic concepts, it is ontologically neutral. It can be used to describe mental `degrees of freedom' in addition to physical ones. This results into a mathematical framework for psycho-physical interaction (ΨΦI formalism). Interestingly, a class of ΨΦI theories turns out to be compatible with energy conservation. (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)
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)
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)