Introduction: Political Philosophy of Mind

  • Michelle MaieseEmail author
  • Robert Hanna


What we call political philosophy of mind fuses contemporary philosophy of mind and emancipatory political theory. On the philosophy of mind side, we draw from our own previous work on the essential embodiment theory and enactivism, together with work by Jan Slaby, John Dewey, Pierre Bourdieu, and J.J. Gibson. On the emancipatory political theory side, we draw from Kant, Schiller, Kierkegaard, early Marx, Kropotkin, Foucault, and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. We begin with the claim that human minds are necessarily and completely embodied, and inherently enactive, social, and environmentally embedded, and proceed from there to argue that social institutions partially determine and literally shape our essentially embodied minds, and thereby fundamentally affect our lives. Our focus is on social institutions in contemporary neoliberal societies, specifically higher education and mental health practice. We hold that although these social institutions shape our essentially embodied minds in a destructive, deforming, and enslaving way, it’s possible to create social institutions that are constructive, enabling, and emancipatory. According to our proposed enactive-transformative principle, enacting salient changes in the structure and complex dynamics of a social institution produces corresponding salient changes in the structure and complex dynamics of the essentially embodied minds of the people belonging to that institution.


Embodiment theory Enactivism Emancipatory Human minds Embodiment Neoliberal 


  1. Adams, A., and K. Aizawa. 2009. Why the mind is still in the head. In The Cambridge handbook of situated cognition, ed. Murat Aydede and P. Robbins, 78–95. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, Lynne Rudder. 2009. Persons and the extended-mind thesis. Zygon 44 (3): 642–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a theory of practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burkitt, Ian. 2002. Technologies of the self: Habitus and capacities. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 32 (2): 219–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chalmers, David. 1996. The conscious mind. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———, ed. 2002. Philosophy of Mind: Classical and contemporary readings. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Choudhury, Suparna, and Jan Slaby, eds. 2012. Critical neuroscience: A handbook of the social and cultural contexts of neuroscience. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, A. 2008a. Pressing the flesh: A tension in the study of the embodied, embedded mind? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1): 37–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. ———. 2008b. Supersizing the mind: Embodiment, action, and cognitive extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, Andy, and David Chalmers. 1998. The extended mind. Analysis 58 (1): 7–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Colombetti, Giovanna. 2015. Enactive affectivity, extended. Topoi: 1–11.Google Scholar
  12. Colombetti, Giovanna, and Tom Roberts. 2015. Extending the extended mind: The case for extended affectivity. Philosophical Studies 172 (5): 1243–1263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeLanda, Manuel. 2006. A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory and social complexity. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  14. Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1977. Anti-oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Trans. R. Hurley, M. Seem, and H.R. Lane. New York: Viking Penguin.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 1987. A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Trans. B. Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  16. Di Paolo, Ezequiel. 2005. Autopoiesis, adaptivity, teleology, agency. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 4: 429–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. ———. 2009. Extended life. Topoi 28: 9–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fisher, Mark. 2009. Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative? Hants, UK: John Hunt Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Flanagan, Owen. 1992. Consciousness reconsidered. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Foucault, Michel. 1993. About the beginning of the hermeneutics of the self: Two lectures at Dartmouth. Political Theory 21 (2): 198–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. ———. 1995. Discipline & punish: The birth of the prison. 2nd ed. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  22. Fromm, Erich. 1966. Marx’s concept of man. New York: Frederick Ungar.Google Scholar
  23. Gallagher, Shaun. 2011. The overextended mind. Versus: Quaderni di studi semiotici: 55–66.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2013. The socially extended mind. Cognitive Systems Research 25: 4–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Geuss, Raymond. 1981. The idea of a critical theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt school. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Giroux, Henry. 2002. Neoliberalism, corporate culture, and the promise of higher education. Harvard Educational Review 72 (4): 425–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hamann, Trent. 2009. Neoliberalism, governmentality, and ethics. Foucault Studies 6: 37–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hanna, Robert. 2001. Kant and the foundations of analytic philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon/Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 2006. Rationality and logic. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ———. 2015. Cognition, content, and the a priori: A study in the philosophy of mind and knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press, aka The Rational Human Condition, Vol. 5.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 2018a. The Rational Human Condition, Vol. 1—Preface and general introduction, supplementary essays, and general bibliography. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2018b. The Rational Human Condition, Vol. 2—Deep freedom and real persons: A study in metaphysics. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  33. ———. 2018c. The Rational Human Condition, Vol. 3—Kantian ethics and human existence: A study in moral philosophy. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  34. ———. 2018d. The Rational Human Condition, Vol. 4—Kant, agnosticism, and anarchism: A theological-political treatise. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  35. Hanna, Robert, and Michelle Maiese. 2009. Embodied minds in action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hartmann, Martin, and Axel Honneth. 2006. Paradoxes of capitalism. Constellations 13: 41–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Honneth, Axel. 2009. Pathologies of reason: On the legacy of critical theory. Trans. J. Ingram. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Horkheimer, Max. 1947. Eclipse of reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Hutto, D. 2011. Philosophy of mind’s new lease on life: Autopoietic enactivism meets teleosemantics. Journal of Consciousness Studies 18: 44–64.Google Scholar
  40. Hutto, D., and E. Myin. 2013. Radicalizing enactivism: Basic minds without content. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  41. Kant, Immauel. 1979. The conflict of the faculties. Trans. M. Gregor. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  42. ———. 1996. An answer to the question: What is enlightenment? In Immanuel Kant: Practical philosophy, ed. I. Kant and Trans. M. Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Kierkegaard, Søren. 2000. Purity of heart is to will one thing. In The essential Kierkegaard, ed. S. Kierkegaard and Trans. H. Hong and E. Hong, 271. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Kim, Jaegwon. 1993. Supervenience and mind. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. ———. 2006. Philosophy of mind. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  46. Kirchoff, M.D. 2016. Autopoiesis, free energy, and the life–mind continuity thesis. Synthese 195 (6): 2519–2540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kirchoff, M.D., and T. Froese. 2017. Where there is life there is mind: In support of a strong life-mind continuity thesis. Entropy 19 (4): 169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kirmayer, Laurence, and Maxwell Ramstead. 2017. Embodiment and enactment in cultural psychiatry. In Embodiment, enaction, and culture: Investigating the constitution of a shared world, ed. C. Durt, T. Fuchs, and C. Tewes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  49. Maiese, Michelle. 2011. Embodiment, emotions, and cognition. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. ———. 2015. Embodied selves and divided minds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. ———. 2018. Can the mind be embodied, enactive, affective, and extended? Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (2): 343–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Marcuse, Herbert. 1964. One dimensional man. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  53. Marx, Karl. 1964. Selected writings in sociology and social philosophy. Trans. T.B. Bottomore. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  54. MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. 2018.
  55. Nagel, Thomas. 2012. Mind and cosmos: Why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Noë, A. 2004. Action in perception. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  57. O’Regan, J.K., and A. Noë. 2001. A sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24: 939–1041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Protevi, John. 2001. Political physics: Deleuze, derrida and the body politic. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  59. ———. 2009. Political affect: Connecting the social and the somatic. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  60. Ramstead, M.J., P.B. Badcock, and K.J. Friston. 2017. Answering Schrödinger’s question: A free-energy formulation. Physics of Life Reviews. Scholar
  61. Rupert, Robert. 2004. Challenges to the hypothesis of extended cognition. Journal of Philosophy 101 (8): 389–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. ———. 2009. Cognitive systems and the extended mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schiller, Friedrich. 1794. Letters on the aesthetical education of man.
  64. Shapiro, L. 2004. The mind incarnate. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  65. Slaby, Jan. 2016a. Mind invasion: Situated affectivity and the corporate mind-hack. Frontiers in Psychology 7: 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. ———. 2016b. Relational affect.
  67. Slaby, Jan, and Shaun Gallagher. 2014. Critical neuroscience and socially extended minds. Theory, Culture, & Society 1–27.
  68. Sterelny, Kim. 2010. Minds: Extended or scaffolded? Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9: 465–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Thompson, Evan. 2005. Sensorimotor subjectivity and the enactive approach to experience. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 4: 407–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. ———. 2007. Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of the mind. Cambridge MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  71. Thompson, Evan, and Francisco Varela. 2001. Radical embodiment: Neural dynamics and consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 5: 418–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Thompson, Evan, and Mog Stapleton. 2009. Making sense of sense-making: Reflections on enactive and extended mind theories. Topoi 28: 23–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Unger, Peter. 2014. Empty ideas: A critique of analytic philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Varela, Francisco, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch. 1991. The embodied mind. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. van der Walt, Johannes. 2017. Some recent responses to neoliberalism and its views on education. HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 73: 3.Google Scholar
  76. Weber, Andreas, and Francisco Varela. 2002. Life after Kant: Natural purposes and the autopoietic foundations of biological individuality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1: 97–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emmanuel CollegeBostonUSA
  2. 2.Independent PhilosopherBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations