ENSO Seminar Series

The Circularity of the Embodied Mind

Thomas Fuchs

University of Heidelberg
April 14, 2022, 8 a.m. UTC // April 14, 2022, 8 a.m. in UTC
From an embodied and enactive point of view, the mind-body problem has been refor­mulated as the relation of the lived or subject-body on the one hand, and the physiologi­cal or object-body on the other (“body-body problem”). The aim of the paper is to explore the concept of circularity as a means of explaining the rela­tion between the phenomenology of lived experience and the dynamics of organism-environment interactions. This concept of circularity seems also suitable to connect enactive accounts with ecological psychology. It will be developed in a threefold way: (1) as the circular structure of embodiment, which manifests itself (a) in the homeostatic cycles between brain and body, (b) in the sensorimotor cycles between brain, body and environment, (c) in the interdependence of an organism’s dispositions of sense-making and the affordances of the environment; (2) as the circular causality which characterizes the relation of parts and whole within the living organism as well as within the organism-environment system; (3) as the circularity of process and structure in development and learning. Here I will argue that subjective and intersubjective experi­ence constitutes a process of sense-making that entrains (neuro-)physiological processes so as to form modified neuronal structures, which in turn enable altered future interactions. On this basis, embodied experience may ultimately be conceived as the integral of current organism-environment interactions, which has a top-down, formative or ordering effect on physiological processes. This will serve as an approach to a solution of the body-body problem.

Link to join/watch the seminar: https://youtu.be/DkOId6-tIQQ