The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Mind Is The Body

The US philosopher Mark Johnson rejects the theory (that he calls "objectivism") that meaning is an abstract relation between symbolic representation and objective reality, and that reason transcends the body.

Johnson, instead, believes that "imagination" is essential for human cognition, and imagination, in turn, arises from the human body. Imagination is taken to be both the creative quality (in the "Platonic" tradition) and the faculty that connects perception with reason (in the "Aristotelian" tradition). The human body is not just a machine that passively receives perceptions. It is an entity involved in a complex interaction with the world and with other bodies.

Human rationality is “embodied” because our reality is shaped by bodily movements. Johnson points out that, like all animals, we are bodies connected to the world. Whatever else we are, it comes from this basic fact, therefore from our bodily essence, from our "embodiment". Our mental life is a creation of this embodiment. It is only in the embodiment that one can find the meaning of our mental life.

His building blocks are Immanuel Kant's "schemas" (non-propositional structures of imagination), which are then amplified into concepts by metaphorical projection, and these concepts then structure and constrain our understanding and reasoning. Johnson claims that, ultimately, the body "is" the mind.

 


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