In 2021, we are commemorating the 20th anniversary of Francisco Varela's passing and the 30th anniversary of The Embodied Mind.
For the anniversary Varela 20/30, Mind & Life Europe is partnering with different organizations. Find out more about the different events in 2021.
The book The Embodied Mind was published 30 years ago. Yet, it is more relevant today given the current developments and changes.
This year we will be paying tribute to two anniversaries: the 20th of Francisco’s passing in 2001 and the 30th of the publication of The Embodied Mind. Hence the overall title of our programme series: Embodiment and Enaction – Varela & Friends 20/30.
We would like to use these symbolic landmarks to re-examine the work of one of our Mind & Life founders along with those friends who inspired him and collaborated with him in developing a novel vision of life, mind and how they are articulated. When The Embodied Mind was written and published the sciences of mind were coming to an understanding of mind that was not bound to brain structures and function. The body was coming back into the picture. The book is a milestone in the embracing of embodied cognition – of mind and cognition as being anchored in the body and situated in a context, a world of culture that both precedes mind and is constituted by it. It is also in this work that the authors unfold the alternative view of mind that follows from taking embodiment seriously – enaction.
Since The Embodied Mind, this novel understanding has given rise to a wealth of research in the sciences of mind that has had profound theoretical, experimental and practical effects on the world. Thus, we’d like our 2021 program, Embodiment and Enaction: Varela & Friends 20/30 to be an occasion not only to look at the roots and genealogy of embodied, enactive mind, but also to look beyond it, to explore the contemporary work of the scientists, social scientists, philosophers, educators and artists who have continued to lay this path down in walking in their own singular ways.
The book The Embodied Mind is a milestone in the embracing of embodied cognition – of mind and cognition as being anchored in the body and situated in a context, a world of culture that both precedes mind and is constituted by it. It is also in this work that the authors unfold the alternative view of mind that follows from taking embodiment seriously – enaction.
‘Embodiment’ and ‘Enaction’ are two key terms elaborated by Francisco Varela – and by the co-authors of The Embodied Mind, Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch – from his experience as a neurobiologist and meditator.
These concepts help us understand the intertwined nature of our thoughts and actions and how the articulation of these two components requires constant inner reflection within the deeper recesses of our minds. As we, human beings and all sentient beings on the planet, face so many challenges, it’s essential to explore further how our motivations for action can be transformed in a beneficial way for all creatures on our planet. We need thinking and acting, good theories and practices, to be based on science and our inner findings.
Mind& Life has celebrated the life and work of neurobiologist and cognitive scientist and Mind & Life founder Francisco Varela with several events, including a tribute meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in 2002 (Dialogue X, “The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life”) and a Summer Research Institute tribute on the 10th anniversary of his passing in 2011. His work was also paid tribute to in numerous homage conferences over the world, including major events in Paris, France, where he lived and worked: École Polytechnique in 2003 and Sorbonne 2004.
The Embodied Mind was celebrated notably on its 20 years anniversary in 2011 during a summer school in San Sebastián, Spain.