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From intersubjectivity to interbeing

I was reminded today of this seminal paper by Evan Thompson with the above title. The premise:

“Human consciousness is not located in the head, but is immanent in the living body and the interpersonal social world. One’s consciousness of oneself as an embodied individual embedded in the world emerges through empathic cognition of others. Consciousness is not some peculiar qualitative aspect of private mental states, nor a property of the brain inside the skull; it is a relational mode of being of the whole person embedded in the natural environment and the human social world.”

There’s no such thing as a male or female brain

See this New Scientist article. Excerpt:

When the group looked at each individual brain scan, however, they found that very few people had all of the brain features they might be expected to have, based on their sex. Across the sample, between 0 and 8 per cent of people had “all-male” or “all-female” brains, depending on the definition. “Most people are in the middle,” says Joel.

This means that, averaged across many people, sex differences in brain structure do exist, but an individual brain is likely to be just that: individual, with a mix of features. “There are not two types of brain,” says Joel.

Suggestions for future meet ups…

Below is a summary of recent topic suggestions  to consider for the next meeting.

Paul – We should revisit, at some point, dfn’s of consciousness, components of consciousness, and what human style consciousness is for, i.e., its evolutionary adaptive function(s).

Edward – Since human development is a key to understanding higher consciousness, I suggest a new topic for discussion: developmental cognitive neuroscience.

Nomalanga – Media effects. Brain behavior and Media. How do media selections and information processing shape our perceptions and responses to news?
Michael – The concept of memes – a term of course first articulated by Dawkins in the Selfish Gene in 1976 just as an analogy for how genes work and are spread.
Brent – Promoting brain health from a neuroscience perspective. Degrading brain health is a perpetually increasing problem. Dementia projections (and the associated costs) for US citizens are ominous at best.  Neuroscientist Lisa Genova stated to a Ted Talk audience: imagine we are all 85, look at two people in the audience one will have alzheimers…and you will be a care giver. Frightening prediction.

Evan Thompson: Buddhism and the brain

Here is an interview with Thompson on Buddhism and the Brain. It starts with defining consciousness as awareness, its changing contents and how both then identify as a self in changing contexts. “Consciousness is something we live, not something we have.”

I also like using the metaphor of dance for the process of self. Both are in the enaction of the process, not a thing apart from that process.

He also goes into how mindfulness in our culture has turned into McMindfulness, how we might learn to pay attention non-judgmentally but then fail to  judge how the work we do might be harming others and the environment. It’s taken out of context with the entire Buddhist ethical framework.

There’s more in the interview with an embedded link to the full interview.