1st Edition

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Embodiment Understanding Human Being

By Nancy K Dess Copyright 2021
    166 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    166 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This is a collection of pithy and accessible essays on the nature and implications of human embodiment which explore the concept of ‘human being’ in the most unprecedented manner through seemingly disparate academic disciplines.

    With contributions from key researchers from around the world, this book engages with embodiment through the lens of "new materialism". It eschews the view that human beings are debased by materiality and creates a vision of humans as fully embodied creatures situated in a richly populated living planet. The essays in this volume will illustrate and foster new materialist thought in areas including psychology, astrophysics, geology, biology, sociology, philosophy, and the performing arts. The book’s engaging and enlightening content is made accessible to readers with relatively little background in the various academic disciplines.

    This is an important and fascinating text which invites readers to explore and expand their understanding and experience of embodiment. It will be particularly useful for postgraduate students and scholars of theoretical and philosophical psychology, philosophy of the mind, and social and cultural anthropology.

    Series Editor’s Foreword (Brent D. Slife)

    Preface by the Book Editor (Nancy K. Dess)

    List of Contributors


    Face it or Replace it?

    Why Computational Metaphors Fall Short and Why We Need a New Approach

    (Louise Barrett)

    Part I: Being

    1. The Matter of Life and Death: How Humans Embody the Universe
    2. (Iris Schrijver and Karel Schrijver)

    3. At Home in Deep Time
    4. (Marcia Bjornerud)

    5. The Secrets of Life: The Vital Roles of RNA Networks and Viruses
    6. (Luis Villarreal and Guenther Witzany)

    7. A Brief History of Death
    8. (Sheldon Solomon)

      Part II: Engaging

    9. Attentive Bodies: Epigenetic Processes and Concepts of Human Being
    10. (Samantha Frost)

    11. Uncovering the Living Body: Bodies and Agents in the Cognitive Sciences
    12. (Fred Keijzer)

    13. Approaching Learning Hands First: How Gesture Influences Thought
    14. (Susan Goldin-Meadow)

    15. Digitization, Reading, and the Body: Handling Texts on Paper and Screens
    16. (Anne Mangen)

      Part III: Coordinating

    17. Embodied Time: A Shared, Ancient Heritage
    18. (Barbara Helm)

    19. Rhythm and the Body
    20. (Gregory A. Bryant)

    21. The Embodiment of Emotion
    22. (Giovanna Colombetti)

    23. Body Focus in Expert Action
    24. (Barbara Gail Montero, John Toner, and Aidan Moran)

      Part IV: (Re)Locating

    25. How Bodies Become Viscous
    26. (Arun Saldanha)

    27. Embodiment, Plasticity, Biosociality, and Epigenetics: The Politics of a Vulnerable Body for Toxic Times
    28. (Maurizio Meloni)

    29. Violating the Inviolable: Evolved Reproductive Prerogatives of Individual Women
    30. (Patricia Adair Gowaty)

    31. Embodiment and the Lived Experience of Diaspora
    32. (Bibi Bakare-Yusuf)

      Part V: Healing

    33. Vital Energy, Health, and Medicine
    34. (Shin Lin and Gaetan Chevalier)

    35. The Power of Touch: Oxytocin, the "Love Hormone," is Released by Massage Therapy
    36. (Tiffany Field)

    37. Traumatic Embodiment: Traumatic Exposure and Healing
    38. (Paula Thomson)

    39. Virtual Embodiment and Embodied Cognition: Effect of Virtual Reality Perspective Taking Tasks on Empathy and Prejudice

              (Fernanda Herrera)


    What Embodiment Is

    (Anthony Chemero)



    Nancy K. Dess, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Occidental College, USA, with primary expertise in experimental and comparative psychology. Beyond her empirical research, she advocates for multilevel integrative approaches to complex phenomena, the democratizing potential of science, and fully embodied conceptualizations of the lives of humans and other animals.

    "A decade ago, I thought I was being radically inclusive when I wrote an essay entitled, ‘Embodiment as a unifying perspective for psychology.’ But this delightfully readable volume of short essays greatly expands the embodiment program by documenting contributions of embodiment to anthropology, biology, communication, education, gender studies, geology, kinesiology, performing arts, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, and sociology. I recommend it to all who are interested in human being." -- Arthur Glenberg, Director of the Laboratory for Embodied Cognition at Arizona State University, USA and member of INICO, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain

    "This collection of essays takes up the difficult challenge of approaching embodied existence from different perspectives while breaking away from the domination by the usual viewpoints. A very welcome opening up of the wealth of perspectives, with the unifying ambition to bring out the multifaceted character of the embodied human life." -- Helena De Preester, University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Ghent) and Ghent University, Belgium

    "This dazzling volume takes multidisciplinarity to a new level. From cells to stars and from anxiety to avatars, leading researchers and emerging luminaries offer an expansive and inspiring exploration that will have much to teach anyone interested in embodiment." -- Jesse Prinz, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies at the City University of New York, Graduate Center, USA

    "A Multidisciplinary Approach to Embodiment: Understanding Human Being stands out from the crowd. This highly original collection achieves true interdisciplinarity, bringing together contributions from the social sciences, humanities, and biomedical sciences to summarize current thinking on body, mind and world, from multiple perspectives." -- Daniel Casasanto, Associate Professor of Human Development and Psychology and Director of the Experience and Cognition Laboratory at Cornell University, USA

    "Embodiment is a topic that has greatly influenced the recent multidisciplinary study of human minds. Nancy Dess's new edited book offers a vivid, fresh look at the ways embodiment unfolds within many forms of human action and meaning-making. Embodiment is not just the brain or the biological body, but a dynamic organization that includes brains and bodies interacting with the cultural, historical world in the service of adaptive action. These essays are all a delight to read and offer many new insights into the ways embodiment defines who we are as unique human beings in shared worlds of embodied inter-subjectivity." -- Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr., former Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA.