The focus of my PhD research was embodied knowing (embodied cognition) in Eco-Paganism. These terms may need some explanation:
Embodied Situated Cognition:
In the late 20th century researchers in both science and the humanities recognized that the body was essential to how we make sense of our world - our cognitive processes are embodied. My literature review on embodied cognition revealed a consistency across disciplines - psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, cognitive neuroscientists, philosophers and practitioners were all talking about the same phenomena; a practical, largely pre-reflective, affective, tacit way of knowing that is both embodied and situated.The following links provide an overview of research in this area:
An overview of embodied cognition. Important sources of research into embodied cognition include:
The Embodiment Resources site exists to facilitate further research.
Eco-Pagans are contemporary Pagans who partly express their spirituality through environmental activism and rituals of resistance.
When I applied my model of embodied situated cognition to my fieldwork, I found that eco-pagans often intentionally 'think with place' and pay more attention to embodied knowing than most people. Several processes and activities enhance Eco-Pagan's sense of connection to the organic environment. These include ritual and the wilderness effect.
An Eco-Pagan's practice inspires and feeds both their spirituality and their motivation to be activists. Because embodied situated cognition is fundamental it is a more powerful motivator than what we can usefully call propositional or explicit knowing. I conclude that this partly explains the values-action gap: Most people know about climate change in terms of facts and figures, i.e. as a propositional knowing, but as it's primarily embodied situated knowing that motivates behaviour change, they don't act. Embodied situated knowing is so fundamental that it must be taken in to account in any exploration of behavioural or consciousness change.
A summary of my PhD, The Wisdom of the Body: Embodied Knowing in Eco-Paganism, is available.
If you would like to be find out more about this research, please contact me, Dr. Adrian Harris, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: May 2010.
the green fuse - bringing philosophy to life