Posts Tagged ‘Tate Modern’

Antonio Damasio

Antonio Damasio

António Damásio is a Portuguese neuroscientist currently working at the University of Southern California, where he heads USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute.

His contributions to the Philosophy of Embodiment are most accessible in his two bestsellers Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, and The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness.

Contrary to the disembodied dichotomy envisioned by philosopher René Descartes between the mind and the body, Damásio argues throughout his work that the body is the genesis of thought. Central to his argument is a collapse of the classical distinction between reason and emotion. Utilizing his expertise in neuroscience, he argues instead that reason and emotion fundamentally depend upon one another.

Damásio is also well known for proposing what he calls the Somatic-marker Hypothesis, which proposes how emotional processes guide action-oriented decision-making. The hypothesis addresses how decisions and mentality are structured through bodily action.

If you’re in London on December 11th, you’ll be able to catch Damásio at Tate Modern, where he’ll be giving a talk titled, “Embodiment: Body, Mind and Medicine”.

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »