Thickening descriptions with views from pragmatism and anthropology

Saskia K. Nagel

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How can we as biological systems that are self-organizing and constantly adapting make sense of our surroundings? How can the rich connections between organisms and environment lead to our particular lifeworlds, lifeworlds that allow individual experiences and that are themselves constantly changing in reaction to them? This commentary suggests, extending the framework provided by Scott Jordan and Brian Day, an integration of recent neuroscientific evidence with perspectives from pragmatism, anthropology, and phenomenological thought. Much experimental evidence demonstrates that human beings are systems comprised of a brain as part of a body and an environment, which is constantly regulating and adapting. This evidence resonates with reasoning from pragmatism and anthropology that describe the continuous, dynamic interaction of mind, body, and world. Employing those various perspectives leads to a dense description of human experience and cognition that specifies details and patterns, which considers contextual factors that allow us to enrich human self-understanding, and which aids attempts to answer the questions raised at the beginning of this paper
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOpen MIND
EditorsT. Metzinger, J.M. Windt
Place of PublicationFrankfurt am Main
PublisherMIND Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-3-95857-102-0
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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