embodiment

Embodiment is the line between psychology and biology. One important feature of embodiment is that the interaction between the body and cognition is circular. Thus posture, facial expressions, or breathing rhythm are in a feedback loop with motor movement, mood, and cognition. I am bouncing along the street because I am happy but I am also happy because I am walking with a spring in my step.

Gerald Edelman argues that evolution connects the two, and that natural selection has to account for the emergence of human consciousness. But Edelman is careful to underscore that consciousness is a physical process embodied in each unique individual, and that a mere description cannot be substituted for this embodiment.

Michael Polyani introduced the notion of tacit knowledge to the traditions of the philosophy of science, as a kind of "bodily knowledge."

For phenomenologists like Don Ihde, "To embody one's praxis through technologies is ultimately an existential relation with the world." (Technology and Lifeworld, p.72) Ihde explores the different human-technology relations through a "Phenomenology of Technics." He traces out three existential technological relations: embodiment, hermeneutics, and alterity.

Embodied relations such as the experience of "seeing through" glasses (or the use of hearing aids, blind man's cane, or driving a car) take the technology into the perceptual-bodily self-experience. The mediating technology becomes part of the body image, and achieves "instrumental transparency" (see tool)

Elaine Scarry describes the opposition between work and play in terms of embodiment. For Scarry, "although play is often sensuous (for in play the senses become self-experiencing), work entails a far deeper embodiment: the human creature is immersed in his interaction with the world, far too immersed to extricate himself from if (he may die if he stops) ...In contrast, the very nature of play requires that the person be only half-submerged in the world of his activity...The person at play, protected by the separability of himself from his own activity, does not put himself at risk: he acts on the world with less intensity than the person at work..It is in the very nature of work--as dramatically visible in forms of physical labor and craft such as coal mining, farming, building, or inventing--that the worker "works" to bring about severe alterations in the world..and only brings about these alterations by consenting to be himself deeply altered." (The Body in Pain, p.82)

For Maturana and Varela, the full definition of "embodiment" is a self-referential, self-organizing, and nonrepresentational system whose modes of emergence are made possible by the history of structural coupling between the autopoetic entity and an environment to which it remains closed on the level of organization but open on the level of structure. (Cary Wolfe, pp. 60-61)

Evelyn Fox Keller describes the "romance of disembodiment" in both the epistemology and politics of science. If science is often defended from relativist arguments by claiming "it works," Fox Keller points out that it works at something for a particular "we" ...a "we" embedded in particular cultural, economic, and political frames. Katherine Hayles traces some of the history of disembodiment as laying the groundwork for the posthuman, one of whose contemporary forms is the cyborg. For Hayles, the erasure of embodiment is a feature common both to the liberal humanist subject and the cybernetic posthuman. "Identified with the rational mind, the liberal subject possessed a body but was not usually represented as being a body." (How We Became Posthuman, p 4)