Meditation: Why You Are Not Your Brain

I think therefore I am? I think not.

Rene Descartes is famous for the saying “I think therefore I am.” But recent research in neuroscience has revealed that this notion, called dualism—that our minds and bodies are separate—is inaccurate.

Those who meditate regularly likely already have some experiential understanding of the interdependence of mind and body.  But whether or not you meditate, you may find the recent A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain by Samuel McNerney of interest. 

Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In sharp contrast is dualism, a theory of mind famously put forth by Rene Descartes in the 17th century when he claimed that “there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible… the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body.” In the proceeding centuries, the notion of the disembodied mind flourished. From it, western thought developed two basic ideas: reason is disembodied because the mind is disembodied and reason is transcendent and universal.

You can read the rest of the article on the Scientific American website. 

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Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Pleasantville Community Synagogue (Joyful Judaism!) an inclusive progressive synagogue–with members from twenty towns, villages and cities all across Westchester. Read The New York Times  article. Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 am is open to the public. Everyone is welcome and warmly invited.

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