It’s now fairly widely accepted that the ‘body’ and the ‘mind’ are so tightly interwoven that it makes good sense to talk about the bodymind. But every bodymind exists somewhere and places can have a profound impact on how we think and what we think about.
The impact of place on our cognition is more than trivial: It’s obvious that I’ll have different thoughts and experiences if I’m at a race track or in a wood. In fact, any place will have a profound and subtle influence on aspects of your thinking. But it goes far deeper: The philosopher Merleau-Ponty argued that our conventional notions of ‘self’ and ‘world’ are illusionary, because in knowing the world we become part of it (Merleau-Ponty, 1962).
Similar conclusions are now widespread: In his survey of the field Peterson notes that for a “significant number of researchers … to understand the mind/brain in isolation from biological and environmental contexts is to understand nothing” (Peterson, 2003). This new way of understanding how we think is called embodied situated cognition (ESC).
What does this mean in practice? How does ESC impact on our learning, living & loving? What if there really isn’t any separation between what I call ‘self’ and ‘other’? Are there thoughts you can only have in certain places?
This blog explores embodied situated cognition from the perspectives of phenomenology, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, cognitive science, ecopsychology and more.
Except where other credit is given, I took all the photographs. More examples of my photographic work are available on my website.