THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Welcomes: WARREN FRISINA (Hofstra University)
With responses from: BONGRAE SEOK (Alvernia University)
Please join us at Columbia University’s Religion Department on FRIDAY, MAY 5th at 5:30PM for his lecture entitled:
“Forming One Body with All Things: Organicism and the Pursuit of an Embodied Theory of Mind”
This paper uses the Neo-Confucian slogan that we should strive to “form one body with all things” as a starting point for asking whether the organismic metaphors so central to Neo-Confucian thought might be compatible with and of service to contemporary thinkers in cognitive science and philosophy of mind who believe that an embodied theory of mind is the appropriate goal for our time. My hypothesis is that the recent pursuit of embodied descriptions of minds and mental activity sometimes appear paradoxical unless set within a broader organismic framework. Thus, this paper argues that those who are working fervently toward establishing a fully embodied understanding of the human mind would do well to look to the role organismic metaphors play in shaping the Chinese understanding of a hsin (heart/mind) that has always been understood as fully embodied. In making the case for organismic metaphors, I am challenging the tendency to assume that mechanism is the best metaphor for describing the ultimate features of our natural world, including the human mind. When this tendency is active we extend our experiences with real machines (e.g. things built by humans for specific purposes) metaphorically to the minute and large-scale workings of nature. It is important to say that I am not arguing for a return to old fashioned organicisms of either the Western or Chinese types. Instead, I am making the stronger claim that while contemporary results in cognitive psychology and neuro-science are pressing us to rethink and reimagine the most basic assumptions governing our understanding of the human mind and its place in the world, traditional Chinese organismic metaphors can be a fertile starting point for reflecting on what else we must change to achieve a fully embodied philosophy of mind.
FRIDAY, MAY 5, 5:30-7:30 pm
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