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Pressing the Flesh: A Tension in the Study of the Embodied, Embedded Mind?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
  • Mind
  • Cognitive Science
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Mind, it is increasingly fashionable to assert, is an intrinsically embodied and environmentally embedded phenomenon. But there is a potential tension between two strands of thought prominent in this recent literature. One of those strands depicts the body as special, and the fine details of a creature’s embodiment as a major constraint on the nature of its mind: a kind of new–wave body–centrism. The other depicts the body as just one element in a kind of equal–partners dance between brain, body and world, with the nature of the mind fixed by the overall balance thus achieved: a kind of extended functionalism (now with an even broader canvas for multiple realizability than ever before). The present paper displays the tension, scouts the space of possible responses, and ends by attempting to specify what the body actually needs to be, given its complex role in these recent debates.

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