Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Here's an interesting seminar in the upcoming Science and Nonduality Conference connecting image schemas with nonduality. Recall I've done this is a number of threads.*
Dr. Frank Echenhofer (Professor of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies)
Over the last 15 years there has been a very interesting development within linguistics that may offer new insights regarding the relationship between dualistic thought and nondual experiencing. This development has been the research and writing regarding image schema, all artfully explained in Mark Johnson's book The Meaning of the Body. An image schema is one of many recurring pervasive cognitive structures that are formed from our bodily interactions, our linguistic experiences, and our culture. In contemporary cognitive linguistics, an image schema is considered an embodied prelinguistic structure of experience that shapes the mapping of conceptual metaphors.
Research studies in cognitive psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience support this notion of image schema. This presentation will provide a new look at the relationship between dualistic and nondual experiencing in light of what is known about how image schemas shape our experiences."
Echenhofer mentioned Mark Johnson, who with George Lakoff wrote my embodied nondual Bible, Philosophy in the Flesh. In my research I came upon this book available free at scribd, From Perception to Meaning: Image Schemas in Cognitive Linguistics (Mouton de Gruyter, 2005). The following excerpt is from Johnson's introductory chapter "The philosophical significance of image schemas":
“The chief problem with Kant's account is that it is based on an absolute dichotomy between form and matter. He thought there could be 'pure' form—form without empirical content—and his problem was to explain how this form could get connected to the material aspects of experience.... Kant's general metaphysical system... seems to me to be too laden with a disastrous set of fundamental ontological and epistemological dichotomies.... However, what is worth salvaging from Kant's account is his recognition of imagination as the locus of human meaning, thought, and judgment. Kant correctly recognized the schematizing, form-giving function of human imagination. Imagination is not an activity of alleged pure understanding or reason, but rather is an embodied process of human meaning-making that is responsible for the order, quality, and significance in terms of which we are able to make sense of our experience. What Kant called the 'faculty of imagination' is not a discrete faculty, but rather multiple processes for discerning and utilizing structure within our experience.
“Moreover, we must not think of imagination as merely a subjective, idiosyncratic private 'mental' operation to be contrasted with objective thought and reason. Imaginative activity occurs, instead, in the ongoing flow of our everyday experience that is neither merely mental nor merely bodily, neither merely cognitive nor emotional, and neither thought alone nor feeling alone. All of these dimensions are inextricably tied up together in the perceptual and motor patterns of organism-environment interaction, which provide the basis for our patterns of understanding and thought. What we identify as the 'mental' and then contrast with the 'bodily' dimensions of our experience are really just abstractions from the embodied patterns and activities that make up that experience. What we call 'mind' and 'body are not separate things. Rather, we use these terms to make sense of various aspects of the flow of our experience. Image schemas are some of the basic patterns of that flow.
“It took the non-dualistic philosophies of people such as William James (1890), John Dewey (1958), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1962)--and later, the burgeoning work of neonate cognitive neuroscience—to articulate a richer embodied view of imagination, meaning, and thought. James, Dewey, and Merleau-Ponty all shared the fundamental insight that mind and body are not two things or substances somehow yoked together, but rather that what we call 'mind' and 'body' are aspects of an ongoing sequence of organism-environment interactions that are at once both physical and mental. They recognized that the human mind is embodied, that all of our meaning,thought, and symbolic expressions are grounded in patterns of perception and bodily movement" (18-19).