The Embodied Mind

Do you identify yourself with your mind? Or your body? Are you a materialist? Or an idealist? When I was very into lifting and jumping, I tended to identify myself as a physical body. But then I started to get into art and philosophy, and I began to shift my focus away from the body to identify the essence of my ego through the mind. 

I want to bring the body back to the picture with the philosophy of “embodiment” to overcome the detachment of mind from body and the dualistic view of subject/object. Philosophy and religion had for centuries denounce and discriminated aga…inst the flesh and the body to be in favor of the mind. Thinkers from Plato on even thought that the mind or the soul is trapped within a body, and that the flesh is evil because it distracts and imprisons our souls from being truly free. In other words, they think that to “free your mind”, you must overcome matter by destroying your body.

The universe is made up 2 distinct realms – the mental and the physical. We cannot overlook the body because human beings are made up of both the substances. When one speaks of pure consciousness, one thinks of God – a pure mind without a body. On the other end of the spectrum, we have rocks – pure matter without any minds. Human beings exist in the middle of the spectrum between mind and matter, which uniquely makes us the love child/hybrid of matter and consciousness. In other words, you are a psycho-physical being, a body-subject, or an embodied mind.

Thought and cognition cannot occur without a body, and that even though mental lives exist and are as real as physical matter, the use of a ‘mind’ is inseparable from our bodily, situated, and physical nature. Consciousness can only arise from the interaction between the body, the mind, and everything else in the environment that matter and consciousness come into contact with. This means that the perceiving mind is an incarnated body, and that the body does not just act or react upon perception, but is the very vehicle we use to think with.

In other words, consciousness and mind extend beyond the brain. The mind is not just situated in the brain, but is smeared out and extended throughout the entire body. I would even venture to say that that our thinking doesn’t happen only in our heads but that certain types of human cognition occurs as result of feedback loops that promiscuously criss-cross the boundaries of brain, body, and the world.