Philosophy Needs a Visceral Connection


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
Philosophy Needs a Visceral Connection

The visceral (instinctive, unreasoning, and ‘earthy’) domain of human reality is not exclusively the domain of intellection but is a partnership with the crude and earthy emotions that are so dominate a part of human experience.

A new manner of thinking was born in Greece in the five centuries BC. This might properly be called the Pagan Period. Webster informs me that a pagan is a follower of a polytheistic religion or one with little or no religion and who delight in sensual pleasures and material goods. Modern day America seems to fulfill at least one aspect of that definition of paganism.

The Pagan Period was followed by what might be called the Catholic Period. The Catholic Period was a millennium in which the Catholic Church dominated Western civilization.

The manner of thinking born in the Pagan Period and nurtured during the Catholic Period might properly be called the philosophical manner of thinking. Philosophy, born in Greece and nurtured during the millennium following, was grounded in the mind/body dichotomy introduced by Descartes under the heavy influence of an overseeing Catholic Church.

I claim that Western philosophical tradition is today at the cusp of adolescence leading into adulthood. This major paradigm shift is constructed on the recognition that we can no longer ground our philosophical attitudes on the mind/body dichotomy and must recognize the validity of the empirical scientific theories centered about the idea of the embodied cognition. This theory can be justified as a result of the technology that makes observation of brain actions observable.

Classical cognitive science assumes that “cognition consists of the application of universal logical and formal rules that govern the manipulation of “internal” mental symbols, symbols that are supposedly capable of representing states of affairs in the “external” world.” Classical cognitive science treats mind as a computational program.

Alan Turing (1937) developed the idea of the human mind acting as a universal computing machine. Further developments of Turing’s ideas led to the development that the human brain was conceived as a physical symbol system capable of operating on symbols in a logical fashion. Hence the metaphor ‘Mind as Computer’ became the rage of the electronic and computer sciences.

The internal/external split characterizing this view illuminates the idea that this computational function can be detached from the body of the organism, which means that any number of contraptions might perform adequately the actions of the human mind.

First generation cognitive science developed a science of cognition constructed around the ‘Mind as Computer’ metaphor. This was labeled as AI (Artificial Intelligence).

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) developed a science of cognition constructed around the ‘Cognition in the Body’ metaphor. Rather than thinking of cognition as a manipulator of symbols, human cognition and our bodies are a gestalt; so integrated as to constitute a functioning unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts.

Quotes from The Meaning of the Body by Mark Johnson