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Mind in Life By Evan Thompson

Mind in Life by Evan Thompson

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Thompson explores the "explanatory gap" between biological life and consciousness, drawing on sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy to show that mind and life are more continuous than previously accepted.

Mind in Life Summary

Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind by Evan Thompson

How is life related to the mind? The question has long confounded philosophers and scientists, and it is this so-called explanatory gap between biological life and consciousness that Evan Thompson explores in Mind in Life. Thompson draws upon sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy to argue that mind and life are more continuous than has previously been accepted, and that current explanations do not adequately address the myriad facets of the biology and phenomenology of mind. Where there is life, Thompson argues, there is mind: life and mind share common principles of self-organization, and the self-organizing features of mind are an enriched version of the self-organizing features of life. Rather than trying to close the explanatory gap, Thompson marshals philosophical and scientific analyses to bring unprecedented insight to the nature of life and consciousness. This synthesis of phenomenology and biology helps make Mind in Life a vital and long-awaited addition to his landmark volume The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (coauthored with Eleanor Rosch and Francisco Varela). Endlessly interesting and accessible, Mind in Life is a groundbreaking addition to the fields of the theory of the mind, life science, and phenomenology.

Mind in Life Reviews

I think this book deserves close study, since it offers a holistic and dynamic perspective on how life and mind interact and how mind, body, and world form an inseparable unity...Thompson has written a book that for philosophers may give a new incentive to rethink and reconceptualize our place in the world that surpasses dualistic thinking. If that was the purpose of the book, it has succeeded. -- Taede A. Smedes Metapsychology 20080520 The aim of Evan Thompson's Mind in Life is to suggest a new way forward in the long-running attempt to connect biological knowledge about how body and brain work with our phenomenological experience of life. The book is an impressive work of synthesis, drawing together an array of themes in biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, phenomenology, and consciousness studies...This is a highly impressive work, of considerable scope, importance, and originality. The book is not, nor does it claim to be, an easy read for a general audience: the fields of consciousness studies and phenomenology are replete with necessary jargon, and Mind in Life builds on decades of discovery and debate. On the other hand, the argument is accessible to nonspecialists willing to take the time, for Thompson presents complex ideas with commendable fluency. For philosophers of biology, as for cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind, Mind in Life is sure to become essential reading. -- John C. Waller Isis 20081201 The book is a tremendous success and amounts to a superior contribution to recent and current debates in the philosophy of mind. Thompson displays a deeply impressive grasp of the relevant literature across a range of disciplines, including biology, phenomenology, psychology and neuroscience. Not only has he read widely, he has an admirable intellectual independence, and is confident of the arguments he wants to demonstrate and the direction he wants the sciences of the mind to take...One of the richest contributions to the study of "mind in life" in recent years. It deserves to become a major work of reference and inspiration for research in the immediate future and, indeed, for many years to come. It provides a genuine and far-reaching clarification of core issues in the philosophy and science of the mind, and is to be greatly welcomed. -- Keith Ansell-Pearson Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20090601

About Evan Thompson

Evan Thompson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia.

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgements Part I: The Enactive Approach 1. Cognitive Science and Human Experience 2. The Phenomenological Connection 3. Autonomy and Emergence 4. The Structure of Behavior Part II: Life in Mind 5. Autopoiesis: The Organization of the Living 6. Life and Mind: The Philosophy of the Organism 7. Laying Down a Path in Walking: Development and Evolution Part III: Consciousness in Life 8. Life Beyond the Gap 9. Sensorimotor Subjectivity 10. Look Again: Consciousness and Mental Imagery 11. Temporality and the Living Present 12. Primordial Dynamism: Emotion and Valence 13. Empathy and Enculturation Appendix 1: Husserl and Cognitive Science Appendix 2: Emergence and the Problem of Downward Causation References

Additional information

Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind by Evan Thompson
Harvard University Press
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