344 pages, 5 b/w illustrations
If you think that intelligence emanates from the mind and that reasoning necessitates the suppression of emotion, you'd better think again – or rather not "think" at all. In his provocative new book, Guy Claxton draws on the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology to reveal how our bodies – long dismissed as mere conveyances – actually constitute the core of our intelligent life. From the endocrinal means by which our organs communicate to the instantaneous decision-making prompted by external phenomena, our bodies are able to perform intelligent computations that we either overlook or wrongly attribute to our brains.
Embodied intelligence is one of the most exciting areas in contemporary philosophy and neuropsychology, and Claxton shows how the privilege given to cerebral thinking has taken a toll on modern society, resulting in too much screen time, the diminishment of skilled craftsmanship, and an overvaluing of white-collar over blue-collar labor. Discussing techniques that will help us reconnect with our bodies, Claxton shows how an appreciation of the body's intelligence will enrich all our lives.
"Eloquently written, refreshing and entertaining."
– Elsbeth Stern, Nature
"Memory, consciousness, emotions, abstractions, the nature of the self – our casual conceptions of all these are powerfully challenged as Intelligence in the Flesh examines the unity of mind and body with considerable wisdom and not a little wit."
– David Perkins, author of Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World
"A lively, balanced re-examination of the traditional mind-body issue in light of modern advances in neuroscience."
– Kirkus Reviews
"The best book on the topic of embodied intelligence that I know: the most thorough, as well as the most clearly thought out, and the most readable. It deserves to be very widely read and should become a classic work in the area."
– Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary
"Guy Claxton is an articulate spokesman for the new field of "embodied cognition". He argues that shaking off our brain-centered view will not only give us a better understanding of human biology but will also benefit society."
– Clive Cookson, Financial Times
"Free of jargon [...] Illuminates for readers what specialists in neuroscience and philosophy have understood for decades: that the physical body constitutes the core of our intelligence."
– New York Journal of Books
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Guy Claxton is emeritus professor of the learning sciences at the University of Winchester. His many publications include Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Why Intelligence Increases When You Think Less. He lives in Sussex, UK.