Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
We have a thread for Varela in this sub-forum so I figured his cohort from The Embodied Mind would be worthy. I've provided some of his recent material elsewhere that I'll move over here. For now this is his homepage. Therein is a link to some of his selected articles, one of which is a condensed version of what will be in his forthcoming book, Waking, Dreaming, Being: New Light on the Self and Consciousness from Neuroscience, Meditation and Philosophy (link). The article is "Dreamless sleep, the embodied mind and consciousness: The relevance of a classical Indian debate to cognitive science" (link). (Kela in times past would have loved this one. Wonder if he's still around out there?) Abstract from the article:
"One of the issues debated between the Advaita Vedānta and Nyāya schools in classical Indian philosophy is whether consciousness is present in dreamless sleep. Advaita Vedānta argues that the waking report 'I slept well' is a memory report and hence requires previous experience, whereas Nyāya argues that the report expresses a retrospective inference. Consideration of this debate, especially the reasoning Advaita Vedānta uses to try to rebut the Nyāya view, calls into question the standard neuroscience way of operationally defining consciousness as that which disappears in dreamless sleep and reappears when we wake up or dream. The Indian debate also offers new resources for contemporary philosophical concern with the relationship between phenomenal consciousness (subjective experience) and access consciousness (accessibility to working memory and verbal report). At the same time, findings from cognitive neuroscience have important implications for the Indian debates about cognition during sleep, as well as for Indian and Western philosophical discussions of the nature of the self and its relation to the body. Finally, considerations about sleep drawn from Advaita Vedānta, as well as the Yoga school and Indo-Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, suggest new experimental questions and protocols for the cognitive neuroscience of sleep and consciousness."
I.e., the center of self and consciousness "is determined by the distributed tensile stress of the entire system," a "co-determination of inner and outer."
On p. 6 I introduced Garfield's review of Thompson's latest book. Thompson responds to all the commentators of that issue of Philosophy East and West here. His specific response to Garfield begins on p. 991. He said he was using the notion of a conventional self "in order to criticize contemporary views, such as Thomas Metzinger’s, that argue that there is no self in any sense because there is no substantially existent self. In my view and in Madhyamaka terms, such views, while avoiding the extreme of 'reification,' fall prey to the other extreme of 'nihilism.' So what was at stake for me in using Madhyamaka was to show why 'neuro-nihilism' is misguided, and how the Madhyamaka idea of the person as conventionally existent can be illuminated by a cognitive-science account of how the conventional self gets constituted."
Development and evolution is the subtitle of Evan Thompson's Chapter 7 in his book Life in Mind (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), the main title of which is "Laying down a path in walking." Therein he details the received view of biological evolution and compares it with the enactive, dynamic systems view. It is highly technical and beyond my current knowledge of the topic, but nonetheless instructive in my burgeoning education down this path in walking. A copy of this chapter is attached.
"The serpent's gift: evolutionary psychology and consciousness" by Bering & Bjorklund, is Chapter 22 of The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). A copy of the chapter is attached. The abstract:
"As a higher-order cognitive system enabling access to intentional states, and one that few (if any) other species even marginally possess, consciousness or, more appropriately, self-consciousness has likely been both selectively advantageous and the source of adaptive conflict in human evolutionary history. Consciousness was likely advantageous to early human beings because it built on more ancient primate social adaptations. Individuals likely profited by having the capacity to track the intentions of the self and of social others in that consciousness permitted behavioral strategies involving deception and declarative communication. However, consciousness was likely also a source of adaptive conflict in that it interfered with the functioning of more ancient social adaptations, such as infanticide and male sexual coercion of females. Having access to the epistemic states of others meant that knowledge of social transgressions could be rapidly conveyed between parties. For many evolved psychological mechanisms, what was adaptive in human ancestral history suddenly became maladaptive when consciousness appeared."
Chapter one of Thompson's book Mind in Life attached is on the definitions and differences between the computational, connectivist and embodied theories of cognition, enactivism being a variety of the last.