Saturday, October 29, 2022
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
We are going to hold an online symposium on September 23rd.
Tokai University Online Symposium
"Embodied Spirituality: Meditation practices in the contemporary world"
September 23rd, 2022, 10:00 - 12:00 CET / 17:00 - 19:00 JST
All those who are interested in embodiment and spirituality are welcome. Please follow the link below and register your name and e-mail address. You will get the webinar link after the registration.
My talk is titled "On the spiritual dimension of embodied experiences." Though I have not finished preparing for my talk yet, my main idea is very simple: Our bodily experiences such as sports and dance inherently have spiritual dimensions. Are you interested? Please join us!
Sunday, October 10, 2021
As I restarted the blog as my personal website, the previous pages were closed. I save the page "Embodied Knowledge" as follows:
Embodied knowledge is a type of knowledge where the body knows how to act.
A simple and general example is riding a bicycle. Most of us know how to ride a bicycle, and we are able to do it without any deliberation. There is no need to verbalize or represent in the mind all the procedures required. The knowledge seems to be imprinted in one’s body. The knowing-subject here is the body itself, not the mind. Or more precisely, the knowing subject is the minded-body or embodied-mind.
The notion of embodied knowledge is derived from the phenomenology of the French philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961). In Phenomenology of Perception (1945/1962), referring to knowing how to touch type, he explains it as follows:
To know how to touch type is not, then, to know the place of each letter among the keys, nor even to have acquired a conditioned reflex for each one, which is set in motion by the letter as it comes before our eye. If habit is neither a form of knowledge nor an involuntary action, what then is it? It is knowledge in the hands, which is forthcoming only when bodily effort is made, and cannot be formulated in detachment from that effort.
[Merleau-Ponty, M. (1945/1962). Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge, p.144.]
What Merleau-Ponty described as 'knowledge in the hands' is the particular type of knowledge which is not distinctly explicit, conscious, mentally representative, or articulated. It is, however, well known by the body or through the body, when it is practiced. The knowledge of how to touch type is just lived by the hands or by the body. Merleau-Ponty also refers to it as 'knowledge bred of familiarity' (savoir de familiarité). This is the original source of embodied knowledge.
Embodied knowledge is similar in concept to the procedural knowledge (as contrasted with declarative knowledge) of cognitive science, which can be better presented by performance than by verbal explanation. However, in contrast to the ideas of Merleau-Ponty, in mainstream cognitive science Cartesian mind-body dualism (and the reduction of mind to brain which derived from it) is still dominant, and the embodied nature of this knowledge seems to be overlooked. For example, Raymond Gibbs states:
One of the traditional beliefs in the cognitive science is that intelligent behavior, including the ability to perceive, think, and use language, need not arise from any specific bodily form. Thermostats, computers, robots, and brains in vats may all, under the right circumstances, exhibit sophisticated cognitive skills.
[Gibbs, R. W. (2006). Embodiment and Cognitive Science. Cambridge U. P., p.2]
This tradition has not fully changed yet, although there exists many embodied approaches today.
Descartes, with his famous methodological skepticism, separated mind and body, and at the same time rejected any knowledge that could be doubted. Thus, in the Cartesian world-view, the knowing-subject, which certain knowledge belongs to, is only the mind. The body is a mere known-object. There is no place for any 'embodied' knowledge.
What I propose as the embodied knowledge is not constituted upon such dualism. For the mind, it is not apparent as knowledge since it is not clearly represented; nevertheless, we experience it with certainty through our own body. It is not confined only to the motor skills, but is concerned with the variety of human experiences which occur within the Lifeworld (Lebenswelt).
For the detail, please refer to;
- Tanaka, S. (2011). The notion of embodied knowledge. in P. Stenner, et al. (Ed.) Theoretical Psychology: Global Transformations and Challenges. Concord, Ont.: Captus University Publications. pp.149-157.
- Tanaka, S. (2013). The notion of embodied knowledge and its range. Encyclopaideia: Journal of phenomenology and education, 37, 47-66.
As I restarted the blog as my personal website, the previous pages were closed. I save the page "Intercorporeality" as follows:
Please remember the experience of contagious yawning. In everyday life, it is a common experience that we cannot help yawning when we see someone else yawn (Interestingly enough, it has been pointed out that children with autism show difficulty with contagious yawning). The other example is smiling. Generally speaking, smiling is not as contagious as yawning. However, when we come upon someoneʼs smiling face, we feel that the muscles around our mouth are about to make the same facial expression, even if we do not actually smile.
As is seen in these examples, intercorporeality contains a perception-action loop between self and other. Perceiving the otherʼs action prompts the same action in the self (like yawning) or its possibility (like smiling). Conversely, the selfʼs action prompts the same action, or its possibility, in the otherʼs body.
“In perceiving the other, my body and his are coupled, resulting in a sort of action which pairs them. This conduct which I am able only to see, I live somehow from a distance. I make it mine; I recover it or comprehend it. Reciprocally I know that the gestures I make myself can be the objects of anotherʼs intention.”
(Merleau-Ponty, 1951/1964, The Child's Relations with Others (W. Cobb trans.), p. 118.)
For the detail, please refer to;
- Tanaka, S. (2015). Intercorporeality as a theory of social cognition. Theory & Psychology, 25, 455-472. (Please send me an e-mail in case you need a copy)
- Tanaka, S. (2017). Intercorporeality and aida: Developing an interaction theory of social cognition. Theory & Psychology, 25, 455-472. (You can download a pdf here)
Friday, December 25, 2020
As I launched my own website recently, I decided to close this blog. But I leave all the posts as they are now so that you can visit and enjoy them.
Please visit my new website:
All the best,
Monday, October 19, 2020
Very soon, this Friday, we are going to hold a panel titled "Embodied Ways of Knowing" in the Embodiment Conference.
October 23rd, Friday
JST (Tokyo) 10pm-, CET (Berlin): 3pm-, BST (London): 2pm-, EDT (New York): 9am-, PDT (Los Angeles): 6am-
I am going to give a brief talk on the concept of embodied knowledge. Though it is introductory, it would be a nice opportunity for those who are interested in knowing Merleau-Ponty's theory of embodiment.
I also look forward to sharing the panel with Dr. Kat Austin, a very unique artist based in Berlin creating diverse media installations.
Get your free ticket here;
See you soon on Zoom,
Thursday, June 18, 2020
My British colleague Dr. Adrian Harris informed me that the crowdfunding campaign has started last week. It will help them finance the stable online platform where all the sessions will be arranged as well as the translation of conference sessions into several different languages.
As a speaker I will join the panel organized by Adrian. I will inform you of the detail when it is fixed.
Friday, November 1, 2019
What is it Like to Be Disconnected from the Body?: A Phenomenological Account of Disembodiment in Depersonalization/ Derealization Disorder
As you can see in the abstract, I examined the experience of disembodiment in depersonalization disorder especially in terms of the minima self. It maybe of interest for those who are working on phenomenology of embodiment, phenomenological psychopathology and the philosophy of psychiatry.
Enjoy the paper!
Saturday, October 12, 2019
This time I am going to give a talk on social cognition and intersubjectivity, especially on the concept of aida proposed by a Japanese phenomenologist, Bin Kimura. Here are my essays on aida in this blog.
For those who may be interested in my talk, here I share the abstract of my talk in Prague. My talk is scheduled for October 23rd.
SHOGO TANAKA & LASSE T. BERGMANN WORKSHOP
Title: On the normativity that emerges through embodied social interactions
The so-called interaction theory has brought rich insights into the debate on social cognition. Different from other major theories of mind, interaction theory describes the process of our social understanding focusing on the embodied interactions between the self and the other. In this presentation, I examine how the interaction theory can be further elaborated by drawing on the concept of aida, which was proposed by a Japanese phenomenologist Bin Kimura (1931-). Mainly describing an experience of music ensemble, Kimura explicates how the process of interpersonal interactions gain an autonomy as an emergent system. Beyond Kimura’s argument, I would like to show how this autonomy is experienced as a shared norm between the self and the other in social situations.
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Friday, May 3, 2019
Waldomiro J. Silva Filho & Luca Tateo (Eds.)
Thinking About Oneself: The Place and Value of Reflection in Philosophy and Psychology.
(Springer, Philosophical Studies Series)
I wrote a chapter that focuses on the bodily origin of self-reflection. Though one tends to presuppose that reflection is something purely mental as Descartes did, actually it has bodily origin. Here's the title of my chapter and the abstract. I hope you enjoy it.
Chapter 9: Bodily origin of self-reflection and its socially extended aspects
Shogo Tanaka (Tokai University)
My aim in this chapter is to give a genetic account of self-reflection based on phenomenology and other related cognitive sciences. When dealing with the body in its relationship to the self, the traditional phenomenological approach emphasizes the subjective aspect of the body: “I” perceive the world through and from my body, and “I” act in the world through and with my body. In general, this embodied self is invoked to explain how the self is deeply rooted in pre-reflective actions. In this chapter, however, I attempt to elucidate how the embodied and pre-reflective self begins to reflect itself through bodily experiences. My view is that the origin of reflection is found not in contemplation by the detached mind, but in experiences of one’s own body as an object. One’s own body appears not only as a subject of perception and action but also as an intentional object (“body-as-object”). This ambiguity of the body precedes and underpins psychological experiences of self-reflection. In addition, the body-as-object appears as an object not only for oneself but also for others. Thus, self-reflection is not intrapsychically limited but has extended aspects in intersubjectivity and social cognition. Drawing on arguments by Husserl and Sartre, I explore experiences of empathy and social anxiety as socially extended experiences of self-reflection. This analysis suggests that it is only the self-reflective agent who can truly serve as the social agent and vice versa.
Monday, October 8, 2018
Gordana Jovanović, Lars Allolio-Näcke, & Carl Ratner (Eds.). (2018). The Challenges of Cultural Psychology: Historical Legacies and Future Responsibilities. New York, NY: Routledge.
The book covers diverse aspects of cultural psychology - its historical backgrounds, present and future. I also contributed a chapter on the self in Japanese culture, attempting to go beyond the cultural dichotomy such as "Western" and "Eastern." Here is the chapter title and the abstract.
Chapter 17: The Self in Japanese Culture from an Embodied Perspective (Shogo Tanaka)
The main aim of this paper is to consider the self in Japanese culture from an embodied perspective. Since early 1990’s, the discourses on the embodied mind have brought a radical change in the sciences of mind, including the notion of the self. In the following argument, first, I briefly describe the basic aspects of the embodied self, the notion of which was derived from the embodied mind paradigm. Then, I examine the discourse on the self in cross-cultural psychology that focuses on the differences in the self between the West and East, including Japanese culture. In the extant literature, it is widely acknowledged that the self in Eastern (or more widely, non-Western) cultures has the characteristics of being “interdependent” and “collective” in comparison with that in Western cultures. In addition to this, the self in Japanese culture has been described as “relationship dependent.” Finally, I give an account of the same characteristics from an embodied perspective in order to find a path to an understanding of the self beyond cultural dichotomies, such as “Western” and “Eastern.” If the self is inevitably embodied, such a self could be constituted as either “individual” or “collective,” “independent” or “interdependent,” regardless of the cultural background.
If you are interested in reading it, please let me know. My chapter may be of interest for those who hope to understand the connection between cultural issues and the embodied self.
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Here is the abstract;
Bodily experiences encompass and underpin all types of experiences of the mind, ranging from pre-reflective to self-reflective, from subjective to intersubjective, and from collectivistic to individualistic. Moreover, the self is shaped into diverse modes of being as a result of different focuses on bodily experiences. This paper describes the experiences of one’s body-as-subject, one’s body-as-object for oneself, and one’s body-as-object for others, as they relate with the self. After theoretical considerations, we take up the experience of wearing clothes as a concrete example. The author’s personal experiences adequately show that clothes portray the complexity and dynamism of the self in its relation to the body.
Although it still remains at the initial stage, I attempted to describe my personal experience of clothing in the last section. Please let me know your ideas if you are interested in developing the "phenomenology of clothing" together. It would be fun!