Self and Culture as an Extension of the Body

A myriad of scholars and schools of thought have addressed the problematization of body and mind as part of the grander question: what are the constituents of human beings? The paradigm of embodiment asserts that the body is the foundation of our experiential world and that the body is always embedded in its physical and social environment. The dynamic relationship between body and environment gives rise to those somatic-aff ective sensations, which we refer to as experience, self, and culture. Some basic premises of embodiment include: 1) critique of representation: we should question the theory that states we perceive an object “out there” in the world and represent that in our mind through cognitive modelling; the “black box” of the mind is not in the brain, but in the entire body, 2) situatedness: even the most abstract mental processes are embedded in the environment, and this embeddedness and its interpretation are always delineated and limited by the body, 3) kinesthetic constitution: the exploration of the environment and being-in-the-world are determined by the movement aff orded by the body; via movement we acquire our basic
parameters and experiences regarding force and spatiality, and these schemas remain vital for refl ection throughout life, 4) intentionality: consciousness is always directed at something, which can be e.g. an event, an object of imagination, or a culturally reifi ed object; consciousness is inseparable from its object, 5) aff ectivity: aff ect is essential for competent and relevant behavior; there are no situations void of aff ect, even abstract thinking involves emotion, 6) confl ation: as our perception is intertwined with our own bodily experiences, these are easily merged in consciousness; we confl ate stimuli from our physical and sociocultural environment with our sensorimotor experiences and the appraisal of our subjective experiences. What can we gain by conducting studies within the paradigm of embodiment or reinterpreting our data accordingly? In this section, various authors describe how this paradigm manifests in philosophy, the social sciences, and medicine.

Released: Replika 121–122, 7–20.
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