The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience

The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience

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The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience by Francisco J. Varela, Evan Thompson, Eleanor Rosch

A new edition of a classic work that originated the “embodied cognition” movement and was one of the first to link science and Buddhist practices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262529365
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 01/13/2017
Series: The MIT Press
Edition description: revised edition
Pages: 392
Sales rank: 409,986
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Francisco J. Varela (1946–2001) was Director of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Professor of Cognitive Science and Epistemology, CREA, at the Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, and Cofounder of the Mind and Life Institute.

Eleanor Rosch is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Evan Thompson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia and author of Waking, Dreaming, Being.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Revised Edition Jon Kabat-Zinn xi

Introduction to the Revised Edition Evan Thompson xvii

Introduction to the Revised Edition Eleanor Rosch xxxv

Acknowledgments lvii

Introduction lxi

I The Departing Ground 1

1 A Fundamental Circularity: In the Mind of the Reflective Scientist 3

An Already-Given Condition 3

What Is Cognitive Science? 4

Cognitive Science within the Circle 9

The Theme of This Book 12

2 What Do We Mean "Human Experience"? 15

Science and the Phenomenological Tradition 15

The Breakdown of Phenomenology 18

A Non-Western Philosophical Tradition 21

Examining Experience with a Method: Mindfulness/Awareness 23

The Role of Reflection in the Analysis of Experience 27

Experimentation and Experiential Analysis 31

II Varieties of Cognitivism 35

3 Symbols: The Cognitivist Hypothesis 37

The Foundational Cloud 37

Defining the Cognitivist Hypothesis 40

Manifestations of Cognitivism 43

Cognitivism and Human Experience 48

Experience and the Computational Mind 52

4 The 1 of the Storm 59

What Do We Mean by "Self"? 59

Looking for a Self in the Aggregates 63

Momentariness and the Brain 72

The Aggregates without a Self 79

III Varieties of Emergence 83

5 Emergent Properties and Connectionism 85

Self-Organization: The Roots of an Alternative 85

The Connectionist Strategy 87

Emergence and Self-Organization 88

Connectionism Today 91

Neuronal Emergences 93

Exeunt the Symbols 98

Linking Symbols and Emergence 100

6 Selfless Minds 105

Societies of Mind 105

The Society of Object Relations 108

Codependent Arising 110

Basic Element Analysis 117

7 Mindfulness and Freedom 122

Selfless Minds; Divided Agents 123

Minding the World 130

IV Steps to a Middle Way 131

7 The Cartesian Anxiety 133

A Sense of Dissatisfaction 133

Representation Revisited 134

The Cartesian Anxiety 140

Steps to a Middle Way 143

8 Enaction: Embodied Cognition 147

Recovering Common Sense 147

Self-Organization Revisited 150

Color as a Study Case 157

Cognition as Embodied Action 172

The Retreat into Natural Selection 180

9 Evolutionary Path Making and Natural Drift 185

Adaptationism: An Idea in Transition 185

A Horizon of Multiple Mechanisms 188

Beyond the Best in Evolution and Cognition 193

Evolution: Ecology and Development in Congruence 195

Lessons from Evolution as Natural Drift 200

Defining the Enactive Approach 205

Enactive Cognitive Science 207

In Conclusion 212

V Worlds Without Ground 215

10 The Middle Way 217

Evocations of Groundlessness 217

Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka Tradition 219

The Two Truths 226

Groundlessness in Contemporary Thought 228

11 Laying Down a Path in Walking 235

Science and Experience in Circulation 235

Nihilism and the Need for Planetary Thinking 237

Nishitani Keiji 239

Ethics and Human Transformation 243

Appendix A Meditation Terminology 253

Appendix B Categories of Experiential Events Used in Mindfulness/Awareness 255

Appendix C Works on Buddhism and Mindfulness/Awareness 259

Notes 261

References 285

Index 307

What People are Saying About This


An important book with wideranging implications for the construction of subjectivity in the Western tradition. Moreover, it is engagingly written, presenting difficult ideas and complex research programs with grace, lucidity, and style.

N. Katherine Hayles, American Book Review

Owen Flanagan

One of the main difficulties of the science of the mind is to explain how consciousness is possible without there being a transcendental Self that is the receptacle for all experience or a transcendental 'I' that accompanies all experience. The Embodied Mind blends insights from cognitive neuroscience and the Buddhist theory of mind to show how consciousness is possible without any self at all! The book is tremendously helpful in sparing us the illusion that there is a 'mind's 'I'.'

the authors

Our concern is to open a space of possibilities in which the circulation between cognitive science and human experience can be fully appreciated and to foster the transformative possibilities of human experience in a scientific culture.

American Book Review - N. Katherine Hayles

An important book with wideranging implications for the construction of subjectivity in the Western tradition. Moreover, it is engagingly written, presenting difficult ideas and complex research programs with grace, lucidity, and style.

Gordon G. Globus

The Embodied Mind is a thoroughly original integration of cognitive science, continental philosophy, and Buddhist thought, and in its transpersonal dimension, rather beautiful.

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