Lately, I’ve been delving into the field of cognitive science grasping at parallels in Chinese Medicine. Edward Singerland has been a great influence in guiding a comfortable where-between, that nicely points out where bridges between the two occur and may occur. The new field of Embodied Cognition is a great start.
Embodied cognition is the idea that the body influences the mind. It’s essentially the belief that our ability to gain knowledge, comprehend concepts, remember, judge, and problem solve are not confined to the brain. In this framework, cognition then is influenced, if not determined, by our experiences with the physical world. This is why we say something is “beyond us” when we want to express something we don’t understand: we connect the physical nature of distance with the mental feeling of uncertainty to illustrate our point.
Language was not our first thought. Our thoughts most likely began tactile in nature, most likely gustatory, filled with our hunger needs. Later on we developed visual memory and filled in the picture with the other senses. Our thought essentially were visual based at first and then later developed in to the symbolic language that we needed to express in or were handed to by our social means.
Not only this but our behaviour driven lifestyles determine our language use and choices. In this way we further influence the way we speak, the way we gesticulate, and the way we make our presence to others, through our prior bodily modes. We expect this out of others in the same way. Knowing Oliphant plays rugby and is a fan of the sport, we automatically frame our perceptions toward that way.
Body memory plays a huge part of embodied cognition as out of it cognitive perceptions are developed, arranged, or comprised of.
The ecologic body is a term used by Elisabeth Hsu, who uses the Macro/micro cosmic body of Chinese medicine to explain the visceral emotional body phenomena. The image of the body as a reflection of the macro cosmic plays a central role in Chinese medicine. As the illustration shows, there is an inner landscape, or biologically speaking an interior biome. In different locations in this biosphere, there is a different residence, a different aspect of nature that creates the cyclical changes that our body experiences. It is through the changes of phenomena, Wu xing, that we come to know ourselves and the environment.
We will go further in the next week.