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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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 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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
In this paper I offer an analysis of Plotinus’ argument for the existence of a quasi-psychic entity, the so-called ‘trace of soul’, that functions as an immanent cause of life for an organism’s body. I argue that Plotinus posits this entity primarily in order to account for the body’s possession of certain quasi-psychic states that are instrumental in his account of soul-body interaction. Since these quasi-psychic states imply that an organism’s body has vitality of its own (...) , and Platonic souls are no part or aspect of any body, Plotinus draws the conclusion that the soul must be a cause of the body’s life by imparting a quasi-psychic qualification to it. In so doing, Plotinus introduces elements of hylomorphism into Platonist psychology, and addresses a problem for the animation of the body that Platonic soul-body dualism may plausibly be thought to face. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Mind-body problemet analyseras i ett reduktionistiskt perspektiv. Genom att kombinera emergensbegreppet med algoritmisk informationsteori visas i ett tankeexperiment att ett starkt epistemiskt emergent system kan konstrueras utifrån en relativt enkel, ickelinjär process. En jämförelse med hjärnans avsevärt mer komplexa neurala nätverk visar att även medvetandet kan karakteriseras som starkt epistemiskt emergent. Därmed är reduktionistisk förståelse av medvetandet inte möjlig; mind-body problemet har alltså inte en reduktionistisk lösning. Medvetandets ontologiskt emergenta karaktär kan därefter konstateras utifrån en kombinatorisk analys; det (...) är därmed principiellt oreducerbart till lägre-nivå-fenomen. I perspektivet av en modifierad definition av fri vilja diskuteras den fysiska växelverkan som äger rum i hjärnans neurala system. Trots att enskilda neurala lägre-nivå-processer är deterministiska, kan globala processer visas vara icke- deterministiska i ontologisk mening. Vi argumenterar för att detta leder till viljans frihet. (shrink)
This paper takes a new look at an old question: what is the human self? It offers a proposal for theorizing the self from an enactive perspective as an autonomous system that is constituted through interpersonal relations. It addresses a prevalent issue in the philosophy of cognitive science: the body-social problem. Embodied and social approaches to cognitive identity are in mutual tension. On the one hand, embodied cognitive science risks a new form of methodological individualism, implying a dichotomy not (...) between the outside world of objects and the brain-bound individual but rather between body-bound individuals and the outside social world. On the other hand, approaches that emphasize the constitutive relevance of social interaction processes for cognitive identity run the risk of losing the individual in the interaction dynamics and of downplaying the role of embodiment. This paper adopts a middle way and outlines an enactive approach to individuation that is neither individualistic nor disembodied but integrates both approaches. Elaborating on Jonas’ notion of needful freedom it outlines an enactive proposal to understanding the self as co-generated in interactions and relations with others. I argue that the human self is a social existence that is organized in terms of a back and forth between social distinction and participation processes. On this view, the body, rather than being identical with the social self, becomes its mediator. (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)
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)