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Archive for the ‘Dance and Movement Art’ Category

Over at Edge, a video interview and written transcript have been posted of Alva Noë discussing many of the philosophical problems concerning consciousness, and how a paradigm shift toward an embodied understanding of mind might help to resolve those problems.

Within it, Noë notes that most modern cognitivist research about consciousness and experience within neuroscience and classical cognitive science are actually just recycling many of the old problems of consciousness within a new framework. In other words, although the framework has changed, the same ways of understanding– the same paradigms– are still in place.

He uses the metaphor of a dancer to refocus instead on the importance of movement, action and the environment in the making of consciousness. He also ponders the mysteries of pictorial paradoxes about reference and meaning, and again discusses how an embodied approach offers answers.

Alva Noë is a professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.

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EmbodimentWithout question, hospital environments need to be kept as biologically sterile as possible to prevent the spread of disease and infection among patients and medical practitioners. But does that mean hospitals need to be kept culturally sterile too?

That’s a question being asked by folks in Performing Medicine, a movement and organization dedicated to treating patients and doctors as embodied agents through the use of art, dance, theater and photography.

As someone who is having to deal with hospital culture more than I’d like to lately, I’ve firsthand experience of the cold halls in hospitals; the blank white or lightish blue painted walls. A singular design of pale, square tiles line the floors of every hospital room, organized systematically like a game of Tetris where every falling piece is the same. For a place meant to treat sickness, hospital life and culture sure seems lifeless. Why?

The fact of the matter is that Western medicine is still operating from a disembodied perspective which abstracts the disease and the treatment in such a way that the patients and doctors aren’t viewed as embodied agents. By shifting the paradigm and taking into consideration the entailments of embodiment, better medical results can be achieved.

Performing Medicine lists a few of the advantages of an embodied approach:

• Creativity and agility of body and mind
• An awareness of the affect ones own behavior has on others
• The ability to construct difficult questions and analyse information that has no simple solution
• A questioning of one’s own cultural and ethical assumptions

Furthermore, by focusing specifically on the way patients and doctors move, speak, see and interpret, an embodied medical practice can heal and treat more efficiently and ergonomically.

In a series of conversations, symposia, art injections and courses, in collaboration with Tate Modern, Performing Medicine is sharing its philosophy with the public. Check them out!

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