Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jeff Mason - Mind-Body Interactionism

This is an interesting article from Jeff Mason at the Talking Philosophy blog - he wrestles with the difference between our experience of mind-body interactionism and the philosophical implications of such a stance.

Personally, I do not experience any philosophical conflicts with seeing the body/brain, embedded in its social and environmental context, as the mind. But I suspect I am in the minority on this view.

Meditation is one of the easiest and most reliable ways for me to experience the oneness of body and mind - but as I said, body is only one part of mind.

Mind-Body Interactionism

By Jeff Mason July 26, 2011

It seems natural to speak of physical occurrences and mental processes interacting. I step barefoot on a tack. Unless my foot is asleep, I will feel a pain where the tack has entered. The tack is logically distinct from the sensation of pain caused by stepping on it. Stepping on the tack precedes the feeling of pain. It happens regularly and predictably. Is there something philosophically wrong about speaking this way?

Going in the other direction, imagine waiting for your beloved at the station. The whistle of the approaching train makes your heart go pit-a-pat in anticipation. This would probably stop if Uncle Henry got off instead. Our thoughts, desires and feelings are regularly followed in time by changes in body chemistry and neural activities. We can learn to predict what effects having certain thoughts will have on our bodies.

I remember as a teenager climbing a steep switchback trail rising over 4,000 feet. Trying to keep up with the other back packers, I began to get out of breath, my heart raced and I started to feel dizzy. A friend advised me to listen to my body and find a rhythm of walking that suited me. This turned out to be slow but steady. I was told to count my steps over and over, one to four, in a time that brought my heart rate down and calmed my breathing. This was good advice. My thoughts about hiking changed and so did my body’s response to the task.

From a common sense point of view, there is nothing wrong with talking about physical events causing mental events, or vice versa. Philosophically, however, the theory that mind and body interact is difficult to maintain. One reason may be that the problem arose in the context of Descartes’ dualism. Given his metaphysical position, it is hard to see how there can be any interaction between mind and body, since they do not share any properties. Descartes’ own solution is hard to accept, since it requires occult entities called ‘animal spirits’ that somehow run messages from the mind to the body and the other way around.

However, speaking about mind-body interactions the way we do seems most apt in the examples I have given and many others. Does using the language of mind-body interactions require a commitment to a metaphysical dualism of substance between mind and body? Surely not. When we speak of mind and body, we are not speaking of two separate things. There is only one thing that is in question.

How, then, can there be mind-body interaction if mind and body are really one? I grant that there is a problem here. If mind and body are one, then it is misleading to speak of them interacting as if they were different things. There may, in fact, be no interactions on some metaphysical level, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to describe in any other way the ordinary cases of what we pre-reflectively call ‘mind-body interactions.’ It is sufficient for my purpose to remain at the level of phenomenological description. Looking at how we experience the world, it seems that philosophical identity theories of mind and body make it harder to say what we want to about common appearances of mind body interactions.

It would be so much easier to square identity theories with our experience if we were not inherently temporal beings, living through a sequence of times. In this contingency, we find the mind-body distinction useful to us in a rough and ready way. This is all we need to register the patterns of mind-body interactions that commonly appear to occur in life. We can learn from experience which patterns to cultivate and which to avoid. If I drink too much, I will get a hangover. If I think too long about a personal insult, my heart rate will increase and nasty chemicals will be injected into my body.

The mind-body distinction is ‘thought constituted’ and not a distinction in reality. However, we use the distinction because we find ourselves in a situation where mental processes precede bodily processes, and vice versa. We find it useful to distinguish ‘things’ from ‘consciousness of things’. Experience teaches us the connections. So, in conclusion, we do not have to feel philosophically embarrassed to speak loosely of mind-body interactions. On the contrary, it is for those who hold that mind-body interactions are either senseless or impossible, to explain why it appears that mind-body interactions happen all the time.


Cindy Wigglesworth - The Spiritual Intelligence of Leaders

I've been tangentally aware of Cindy Wigglesworth for several years - but I think this is the first time I have heard her interviewed. She is the founder of Deep Change, a leadership coaching and consultant group.

This interview from the Integral Leadership Collaborative offers a brief introduction into her work in deep intelligence and leadership. She has also created the first Spiritual Intelligence Assessment.

The Spiritual Intelligence of Leaders

Cindy Wigglesworth is the creator of the first validated and researched skills-based Spiritual Intelligence Assessment instrument for business and personal use. She is an experienced organizational development consultant and coach for leaders and executives.
Audio and PDF files are provided below. Click to listen (or view PDF) or Right-Click (Control-Click) to download the files to your computer (recommended).
Additional background information is available on the Biographical Information page.

Bookforum - Questioning the authority of your brain

In yesterday's collections of links, Bookforum included another series of brain, mind, and behavior links (and some philosophy) - some good, some not so much. I present all of them for your Saturday surfing pleasure.

Maree Kimberley (QUT): Neuroscience and Young Adult Fiction: A Recipe for Trouble? A review of Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives by Dean Buonomano. Has the Internet become an external hard drive for the brain? According to a new paper, reading a short article which argues that free will is an illusion causes measurable changes in brain function. The first chapter from The Recursive Mind: The Origins of Human Language, Thought, and Civilization by Michael Corballis. The neurobiology of bliss: Sex in the brain, and what it reveals about the neuroscience of deep pleasure. A review of How Intelligence Happens by John Duncan. Top ten myths about the brain: When it comes to this complex, mysterious, fascinating organ, what do — and don’t — we know? A review of The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good by David Linden. R.U. Sirius on questioning the authority of your brain. The limits of intelligence: The laws of physics may well prevent the human brain from evolving into an ever more powerful thinking machine. Simon Baron-Cohen reviews The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human by V. S. Ramachandran. Sean Carroll on how free will is as real as baseball. Sam Harris on free will (and why you still don't have it). The design of the brain: Evan Lerner on the design of something that wasn’t designed at all. A review of How the Mind Uses the Brain: To Move the Body and Image the Universe by Ralph Ellis and Natika Newton. A review of What Should We Do with Our Brain? by Catherine Malabou. We often think of mathematics as a language, but does our brain process mathematical structures in the same way as it processes language?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Raúl Quiñones Rosado - Integral Approaches for Social Change Agents

Another excellent interview from the forthcoming Integral Leadership Collaborative conference.

Integral Approaches for Social Change Agents

Raúl Quiñones Rosado, PhD, is the author of Consciousness-in-Action: Toward an Integral Psychology of Liberation & Transformation. Founder and Co-Director of c-Integral, Raúl is an international social justice educator, organizer, and integral change consultant.

Audio and PDF files are provided below. Click to listen (or view PDF) or Right-Click (Control-Click) to download the files to your computer (recommended).

Additional background information is available on the Biographical Information page.


You may need to right-click the following links and select "Save Link As" to download the file to your computer.

RSA - We-First Capitalism w/ Simon Mainwaring

Social brand specialist Simon Mainwaring explores how brands and consumers can use social media to build a better world. Mainwaring is the author of, appropriately, We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World.

Listen to the full audio.

Dharma Quote: There is nothing else to do except recognize the true nature of our primordial awareness

Dzogchen Teachings and Vajra Songs
by Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche
and Lama Surya Das


Dharma Quote of the Week

When the root of duality--dualistic clinging, dualistic perceptions, deluded perceptions--is severed, all the leaves, the branches, and even the tree trunk of samsara and nirvana naturally wither on their own and topple in their own time. Then this great spreading tree of samsara and nirvana, of duality, of worldliness, of conditioned being, does not need to be chopped down: it is already as if dead. We can relax; done is what had to be done, as the Buddha sang.

This is the whole point of the Dharma, of spiritual awakening, of Buddhahood; this is its ultimate evolution or unfolding. If we aspire to experience such an awakening, there is nothing else to do except recognize the true nature of our primordial awareness, our own essential being, our own birthright, which is within. This is the intrinsic nature of our own heart-mind, also known as bodhicitta or bodhi-mind. It is our own being, our own nature, this renowned buddha-nature. It is not a Buddha anywhere else. (p.103)

--from Natural Great Perfection: Dzogchen Teachings and Vajra Songs by Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche and Lama Surya Das, published by Snow Lion Publications

Natural Great Perfection • Now at 5O% off
(Good until August 5th).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keith Kendrick - Repairing and Treating Damaged or Dysfunctional Brains

Via - a rather geeky look at how far we have come in being able to repair damaged and dysfunctional brains - which also points to how far we have to go to actually know what we are doing (imo).

Speaker: Keith Kendrick
Loss of sensory or behavioural functions as a result of brain damage or dysfunction can clearly have a significant negative impact on quality of life. What progress are we making towards repairing damaged brains and sense organs and treating mental disorders?

This lecture will consider what therapeutic promise is currently offered by pharamacological, brain stimulation, brain training, neuroprosthetic (connecting artificial sensors to the brain or using brain to control itself or artificial limbs etc), stem cell and gene therapy approaches.

For transcript and download versions of this lecture, please visit the event's page on the Gresham College website: Repairing and treating damaged or dysfunctional brains

Keith Kendrick is a Systems and Behavioural Neuroscientist at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, and Emeritus Gresham Professor of Physics.

Integral Leadership Collaborative - Details

Here are some details about the upcoming conference, which looks to be a great event. There are a lot of great speakers, opportunities for learning, and avenues of interaction. Looks like a huge undertaking. The $145 price tag is rough right now for many of us, but it's a fair price for what we get in return - they are offering work exchanges and scholarships for those in real need (like graduate students in counseling?).

BUT, for reasons I cannot fathom, they have included Marc Gafni among the speakers. He's a joke at best, and at worst he is the single greatest reason many good people have abandoned Wilberian integral (after the Wyatt Earp mishap). Strange choice, but then, with Ken Wilber having to withdraw from most activities, including writing, due to his illness, Gafni seems intent on positioning himself as the face of AQAL. Sadly, no one else is stepping into that void.

On a more positive note, I am very happy to see Mark Forman, Bonnitta Roy, Terri O'Fallon, Adam Leonard, Zak Stein (keynote), and Raul Quinones Rosado among the speakers - and of course, my friend Russ Volckmann, who is also one of the organizers.

You are invited to collaborate with the leading minds in our field to identify and clarify the crucial concepts and core practices of integral leadership.

Our community of practice spans thirty countries on six continents, crossing twenty time zones. Therefore this collaboration will be conducted entirely online featuring state-of-the-art live teleconference technology and online (web-based) presentations. Live events will be scheduled into three slots every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for duration of the conference. All live events will be recorded so participants can listen or watch according to their schedule, then join into the interactive discussion in our online World Café.

Speakers and Presenters

These are just a few of the speakers and panelists who are already planning their presentations. More speakers are being added daily!

As an ILC Participant, You Will...

  • Interact and collaborate with your favorite teachers
  • Take part in the clarification of key integral concepts
  • Help determine the most effective leader practices
  • Learn effective leader development methods
  • Hear about amazing successes and horrible failures
  • Share organizational development best practices
  • Learn how integral leadership is being applied successfully in traditional industries and companies
  • Meet numerous CEOs who are also integral leaders
  • Discover how to teach integral leadership to "non-integral" people
  • Hear how integral spiritual leadership is emerging
  • Be introduced to the latest theoretical and on-the-ground practical breakthroughs
  • Find out what the most successful organizations are doing
  • Explore the strengths and shadow of integral theory
  • Investigate leadership approaches in an online world
  • Learn about innovative integral leadership applications in business, non-profit, and NGO
  • Learn coaching methods that nurture leadership in others (clients, colleagues, community members)
  • Consider common mistakes that integral thinkers make
  • Access numerous new techniques, templates and tools
  • Glean lessons from leadership challenges in the integral community (and emerging integral movement)
  • Check out the leading thinkers' new papers and books
  • And much more...
Calendar of Events

The online conference goes from August 15 through September 10th (4 weeks). Online interactive discussions will be going on 24/7 (across twenty timezones). The live events will be conducted every Tue / Wed / Thu at 12pm, 4pm and 8pm Central Time. This "spread" of times means that regardless of your time zone, you can attend at least one live event each day at a time that is convenient for you. All live events are recorded and made available (along with detailed notes and various additional learning materials) for ongoing interactive discussion in the conference web portal.

There are three types of live events:

  • Keynote presentations by well-known experts in the field of integral leadership;
  • Panel discussions with subject-matter experts and skilled facilitators taking questions from the live audience; and
  • Roundtable discussions with up 6-12 engaged participants with a live audience.

Registration Information

Many of our fellow practitioners live and work in nations still impacted by difficult economic conditions. In addition to a very affordable registration fee of $145, volunteer staffing positions are available if cash is especially tight. If both cash and time are tight, you can apply for one of our generous scholarships.*

Registration will begin one week before the conference doors open. (Conference opens August 15. Registration starts August 8th.

We will send out an email reminder when registration opens so you can secure a spot in the conference if you are able to join us.

Thanks for your interest in integral leadership!


The Entire Staff of the Integral Leadership Collaborative

* If you would like to apply for a Volunteer Staff position please click here. If you would like to apply for a scholarship please contact Jordan Allen at