Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Ok, so it's an interview for the insufferably smug self-satisfied Edge club, but it's very nice all the same.
[ALVA NOË:] "The central thing that I think about is our nature, our human-animal nature, our being in this world. What is a person? What is a human being? What is consciousness? There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm at the moment about these questions.
They are usually framed as questions about the brain, about how the brain makes consciousness happen, how the brain constitutes who we are, what we are, what we want—our behavior. The thing I find so striking is that, at the present time, we actually can't give any satisfactory explanations about the nature of human experience in terms of the functioning of the brain.
What explains this is really quite simple. You are not your brain. You have a brain, yes. But you are a living being that is connected to an environment; you are embodied, and dynamically interacting with the world. We can't explain consciousness in terms of the brain alone because consciousness doesn't happen in the brain alone."
Thought experiment inspired by this article - what can we see occurring in the brain/cognition when the body/action is the main focus but is focused inward, on performing some task not involving environmental interaction? My example is a kata, where the entire action is conceptually, not interactively based; and all thought is turned to the action. Then a person is suddenly highly active, but not interactive, and cognate but focused, not distracted. Kind of like Flow.
Posted by Ben Cowley at 4:01 pm