From Intersubjectivity to Interbeing

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Evan Thompson, on the enactive theory of consciousness

Title: Human Consciousness: from intersubjectivity to interbeing


Evan Thompson contrasts three approaches to human consciousness. He finds that both the cognitivist and the connectionist approaches rely on a undue separation between a reprentational mind and the world it represents. The enactive approach, pioneered by Varela and others, on the other hand, is based on a structural coupling of the brain, the body, and its environment.

"Human consciousness is not located in the head, but is immanent in the living body and the interpersonal social world. One’s consciousness of oneself as an embodied individual embedded in the world emerges through empathic cognition of others. Consciousness is not some peculiar qualitative aspect of private mental states, nor a property of the brain inside the skull; it is a relational mode of being of the whole person embedded in the natural environment and the human social world."

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