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We Move, Therefore We Think: Barbara Tversky on PYP 431

“I have a body.”

When you think about it, doesn't that mean that I'm NOT my body? By definition, anything that I can HAVE isn't me. I have socks. I have thoughts. I have an itch.

The Western worldview insists on a split between the body and whatever the “I” is that isn't the body.

You might think this is all philosophical bullshit, and totally irrelevant to your actual life, and you might be right. But one of the consequences of thinking that our bodies and minds are distinct from each other is the way we treat our bodies as second-class citizens.

Physical labor is seen as inferior to intellectual labor.

We exercise so we don't get weak or ill.

The purpose of our bodies, for many of us moderns, is to carry our minds around. We take care of our physical health the same way we'd take care of a car.

Today's guest, Barbara Tversky, has spent her professional life questioning the primacy of the mind over the body.

Her incredible book, Mind in Motion, argues that our abilities to think and perceive originate in our bodies. And more specifically, in the process of movement and feedback from the environment.Mind in Motion cover

Which means that physical activity is far from optional exercise. Moving our bodies in multiple ways, frequently, is the core of who we are as homo sapiens.

If you want to grow and evolve, books and philosophies are fine, but challenging your physical body with new situations and challenges is a far more powerful engine of evolution.

All thinking is based on spatial thinking.

Dr Tversky's formal academic bio:

Barbara Tversky studied cognitive psychology at the University of Michigan. She held positions first at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and then at Stanford, from 1978-2005 when she took early retirement. She is an active Emerita Professor of Psychology at Stanford and Professor of Psychology at Columbia Teachers College. She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Cognitive Science Society, the Society for Experimental Psychology, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Science. She has been on the Governing Boards of the Psychonomic Society, the Cognitive Science Society, the International Union of Psychological Science, and the Association for Psychological Science. She has served on the editorial boards of many journals and the organizing committees of dozens of international interdisciplinary meetings.

In today's conversation I'm joined by my friend and science advisor Glenn Murphy, who recommended Mind in Motion to me, and took the lead in asking questions of Dr Tversky.

Links

Mind in Motion

Dr Tversky's professional page at Stanford

Glenn Murphy StressProof.net and NCSystema.com

The same interview hosted on Glenn's Systema for Life podcast (he spent a lot more time and money on post-production to level out the sound 🙂

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