Mind in Nature: John Dewey, Cognitive Science, and a Naturalistic Philosophy for Living

By Mark L. Johnson, professor emeritus, Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Jay Schulkin, research professor, University of Washington

April 18, 2023

Mind in Nature

A dialogue between contemporary neuroscience and John Dewey’s seminal philosophical work Experience and Nature, exploring how the bodily roots of human meaning, selfhood, and values provide wisdom for living. The intersection of cognitive science and pragmatist philosophy reveals the bodily basis of human meaning, thought, selfhood, and values. John Dewey’s revolutionary account of pragmatist philosophy Experience and Nature (1925) explores humans as complex social animals, developing through ongoing engagement with their physical, interpersonal, and cultural environments. Drawing on recent research in biology and neuroscience that supports, extends, and, on occasion, reformulates some of Dewey’s seminal insights, embodied cognition expert Mark L. Johnson and behavioral neuroscientist Jay Schulkin develop the most expansive intertwining of Dewey’s philosophy with biology and neuroscience to date. The result is a positive, life-affirming understanding of how our evolutionary and individual development shapes who we are, what we can know, where our deepest values come from, and how we can cultivate wisdom for a meaningful and intelligent life.

The MIT Press, 2023