A More Physical Form of Mindfulness

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How intelligence lives beyond the brain. In your body. Intelligence, in the flesh.

New research on cognitive science suggests a greater link between (Nate Kat / Flickr)
New research on cognitive science suggests a greater link between the physical body and the realization of the mind. (Nate Kat / Flickr)

We know from our language that the body is deeply engaged in our understanding of the world. A joke is side-splitting. We get butterflies in our stomach. Our eyes pop with surprise. Our blood runs cold. But my guest today says humans have radically retreated from the wisdom of the body’s signals to a hegemony of the brain, the intellect. In many ways, sitting at keyboards and screens, we’ve abandoned, forgotten the embodied cognition in the work of hands and backs. Time to get it back, he says. This hour On Point, when the brain is not enough. Intelligence in the flesh.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Guy Claxton, cognitive scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Winchester, where he founded the Centre for Real-World Learning. Author of the new book, "Intelligence in the Flesh: Why Your Mind Needs Your Body Much More Than It Thinks." Also author of "The Wayward Mind" and "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind." (@GuyClaxton)

Matthew Crawford, senior fellow at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Author of "The World Beyond Your Head" and "Shop Class as Soulcraft."

From Tom’s Reading List

Financial Times: Neuroscientists are coming to terms with the body’s role in cognition — "Claxton suggests that the misguided split between body and mind originated in ancient Greece and was made worse when early Christians started denigrating the body as a source of distraction and waywardness, in constant need of taming. This separation continued into the scientific age, set seemingly in stone by the work of the 17th-century philosopher René Descartes."

New York Times: The Cost of Paying Attention — "Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention."

Yale Books: An Interview With Guy Claxton — "Mindfulness means many things! The sense in which I’m using it in this book is quite close to one of the original key meanings in Buddhism – but couched in terms of a bit of cognitive science. Mindfulness meditation involves trying to watch the ebb and flow of your experience with a more dispassionate, but more meticulous, eye than normal. As you learn to do this, so you begin to be able to see it more ‘cleanly’, so to speak, before all kinds of habitual approximations and beliefs have got stirred into it."


Read An Excerpt Of "Intelligence in the Flesh" by Guy Claxton

This program aired on September 14, 2015.


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