Brain In A Jar

Don't forget: you have a body.
"Embodiment" is a concept in cognitive science that doesn't get enough attention.  In very simple terms, embodiment means you have a body.

Uh, ok.  Yes, most of us can agree that we have a body but the true insight of embodiment is that how we think, actually the very fact that we think at all, cannot be separated from the fact that we have a body.  For a primer, check out this "brief guide to embodied cognition" from Sam McNerney.

Here's the way I think about it: if we had some sort of technology that would allow me to take out my brain and put it in a jar, you know what would happen? Nothing.  I might think about stuff, but eventually I would stop thinking about anything new and I would probably go crazy from sensory deprivation. In addition, without a body all my thoughts would be meaningless: if a brain thinks in a jar and no one is there to listen to it... You get the idea.

The Happy Homunculus attempts to be a practical blog, dedicated to applying psychology to performance.  Luckily, all this talk about embodiment has practical implications.  Basically: you have a body and, if you want to perform at your best, you better not forget it.

I can think of two major extensions of embodiment that relate to performance:

First, all our thinking matters for shit if we don't get out in the real world and do something. We can feel like garbage or feel great.  Be happy, or be sad.  But, what really matters, in the real world, is what we do with our body (hands to do, mouth to speak, eyes to look, ears to hear) to make something happen.

Second, everything that happens to your body, happens to your brain.  Let me put it this way: your brain is an organ connected with all the other organ systems of your body.  If you treat your body like it is an expendable brain-carrying-case, your brain will suffer.  Your thinking will suffer.  And, your performance will suffer.  I'm sure many of the academics that I interact with would love to avoid this fact, but if your body is unhealthy, your brain is unhealthy. Period.

In summary, we have bodies.  Our brains can not be separated from our bodies.  Our thinking can not be separated from our bodies.  Let's get our bodies out into the real world and make shit happen.  And, let's take care of our bodies so we can keep making shit happen.

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