Varela, Francisco J.; Thompson,
Evan; Rosch, Eleanor The embodied mind: Cognitive science
and human experience
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA. 1991.
Varela, Thompson, and Rosch argue that it is only by having a sense of common
ground between mind in science and mind in experience that our understanding of
cognition can be more complete. To create this common ground, they develop a dialogue
between cognitive science and Buddhist meditative psychology and situate this
dialogue in relation to other traditions, such as phenomenology and psychoanalysis.
The existential concern that animates our entire discussion in this book results
from the tangible demonstration within cognitive science that the self or cognizing
subject is fundamentally fragmented, divided, or nonunified.... Our view is that
the current style of investigation is limited and unsatisfactory, both theoretically
and empirically, because there remains no direct, hands-on, pragmatic approach
to experience with which to complement science.... Our concern is to open a space
of possibilities in which the circulation between cognitive science and human
experience can be fully appreciated and to foster the transformative possibilities
of human experience in a scientific culture.... In writing the book, we have aimed
for a level of discussion that will be accessible to several audiences. Thus we
have attempted to address not only working cognitive scientists but also educated
laypersons with a general interest in the dialogue between science and experience,
as well as those interested in Buddhist or comparative thought.
I. The departing ground.
A fundamental circularity: In the mind of the reflective
What is cognitive science?
What do we mean "human experience?".
Science and the phenomenological tradition.
The breakdown of phenomenology.
A non-Western philosophical tradition.
Experimentation and experiential analysis.
II. Varieties of cognitivism.
Symbols: The cognitivist hypothesis.
The I of the storm.
III. Varieties of emergence.
Emergent properties and connectionism.
IV. Steps to a middle way.
The Cartesian anxiety.
Enaction: Embodied cognition.
Evolutionary path making and natural drift.
Evolution: Ecology and development in congruence.
V. Worlds without ground.
The middle way.
Laying down a path in walking.
Ethics and human transformation.
Appendix A: Meditation terminology.
Appendix B: Categories of experiential events used in mindfulness/awareness.
Appendix C: Works on Buddhism and mindfulness/awareness.