Publication 2259

Thompson E. (2007) Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA.
How is life related to the mind? The question has long confounded philosophers and scientists, and it is this so-called explanatory gap between biological life and consciousness that Evan Thompson explores in Mind in Life. Thompson draws upon sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy to argue that mind and life are more continuous than has previously been accepted, and that current explanations do not adequately address the myriad facets of the biology and phenomenology of mind. Where there is life, Thompson argues, there is mind: life and mind share common principles of self-organization, and the self-organizing features of mind are an enriched version of the self-organizing features of life. Rather than trying to close the explanatory gap, Thompson marshals philosophical and scientific analyses to bring unprecedented insight to the nature of life and consciousness. This synthesis of phenomenology and biology helps make Mind in Life a vital and long-awaited addition to his landmark volume The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (coauthored with Eleanor Rosch and Francisco Varela).
Reviewed in: McGee K. (2008) Disclosing Autopoeitic Subjectivity: Tracing a Path from Life to Consciousness. Review of: Evan Thompson (2007) Mind in life. Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 117–118. Available at http://www.constructivist.info/3/2/117
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