How is body and mind one?
“It is our organic flesh and blood, our structural bones, the ancient rhythms of our internal organs, and the pulsating flow of our emotions that give us whatever meaning we can find and that shape our very thinking.”
Our Western philosophical culture and our Christian religion deny this very obvious fact. We try desperately to think of our selves as gods with minds that float above our body with its nasty old anus.
Descartes, one of the first philosophers that the young philosophy student learns about, informs us that “my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking being…I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in so far as I am simply a thinking, non-extended thing; and on the other hand I have a distinct idea of body, in so far as this is simply an extended, non-thinking thing.”
Our Christian culture, our Western philosophical tradition, and our naïve common sense perceptions all seem to work in concert to instill this erroneous mind/body dichotomy upon our comprehension of reality. All of these factors lead us to place a positive evaluation upon freeing our self from our body. When we die and our mind/soul/spirit goes to heaven our body decays into dust where it came from. And we are forever free of its unpleasant burden.
SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) challenges this traditional and common sense inherited duality of mind/body. This new paradigm for cognitive science targets the disembodied view of meaning that results from our objectivist philosophy.
Traditionally, meaning is associated with words and sentences. Meaning in this traditional sense is about propositions and words, but SGCS considers this a very limited view of meaning; this disembodied view is far too narrow. “Meaning traffics in patterns, images, qualities, feelings, and eventually concepts and propositions.”
Objectivist philosophy recognizes two fundamentally different kinds of meaning: descriptive and emotive meaning. This is an illusory demarcation that led certain philosophers of language to retain focus upon the conceptual/propositional as the only meaning that mattered and that emotive meaning had no meaning in rigorous testable modes of knowing.
This dream of “freeing oneself from the body” reinforces the erroneous idea that is buried deeply within our psyche by our Western Christian philosophical inheritance the dangerous idea that a person’s “true” self is not of this world but abides in some transcendent kingdom. These kinds of ideas lead us into ignoring our situation on this planet because it is of small consequence when we spend eternity in some heavenly bliss. Such thoughts make it possible for people to strap bombs upon their person and go strolling in the mall on the way to heaven.
SGCS argues “for the central role of emotion in how we make sense of our world. There is no cognition without emotion, even though we are often unaware of the emotional aspects of our thinking.”
Quotes from The Meaning of the Body by Mark Johnson