Descartes revisited

My previous post (Descartes’ stove: Philosophers and place) had more responses than any before it. Although there was only one blog comment, there’s been a lively conversation over on my Facebook page.

I want to pick up on two themes of that discussion:

  1. Am I being too hard on poor old Descartes?
  2. Are we so disembodied that there’s no way back?

To be fair to Descartes, he was only carrying forward a process of disembodiment that started long before him. Some suggest it all began with the invention of agriculture, while others identify Plato as the initiating force.

The change from a nomadic hunter/gatherer lifestyle to settled farming was perhaps the most significant shift in our history and may well have had an impact our sense of self. But so much is lost in prehistory that it’s difficult to say anything with certainty.

Plato’s role is more clearly scripted and his voice echoes through Western religion, science and philosophy. I’ll consider Plato in future posts.

Our individual experience of embodiment isn’t fixed. My awareness of my embodiment can vary considerably over a single hour, much less a lifetime! There are many ways to become more embodied:

  • Develop your sensory awareness;
  • take up a bodywork practice like yoga;
  • eat mindfully;
  • start Focusing.

My nature connection workshops also encourage a deeper sense of embodiment: As you reconnect mind and body, you reconnect to the world.

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