The interdependence of nature and nurture in the establishment and maintenance of mind: an eco-dynamic paradigm

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Greenberg, Ira N.
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University College Cork
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This dissertation makes the case that the human mind is established and maintained by the interdependence or enmeshment of multiple complex, dynamic systems; biological, social, and technological. These are not merely peripheral but rather, jointly are constitutive of mind. I develop this thesis in what I call the “eco-dynamic paradigm,” which modifies and supplements enactivism. This dissertation has two main theses: first, mind is established and maintained by features that draw on the resources of the brain, body and the contextual environment in which one is embedded. The second thesis is that Dynamic Systems Theory is an important resource in modelling, explaining and analysing the complex, dynamic relationships within and between scales of brain, body and contextual environment. I use the language and concepts of Dynamic Systems Theory qualitatively to describe the dynamics of brain, body, environmental relationships. Methodologically, this dissertation is both interdisciplinary and cross-cultural. I refer to Indo-Tibetan Buddhism as an excellent example of a culture whose goal is to transform the mind to clarity by utilising a symbiotic package of meditation and visualisation practices, teachings, rituals and philosophies. These elements together provide an interconnected web which are used to support and assist the cognitive transformation of the practitioner. The conceptual and practical elements of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the relations between them and even the process of cognitive transformation can also be analysed by Dynamic Systems Theory. Death and dying provide a fulcrum in which the resources of the eco-dynamic paradigm are best utilised. Indo-Tibetan Buddhist practices, concepts and philosophy related to the nature of the mind come into contrast with those of Western medical science sharply in death and dying. The challenge posed to medical science is to study and explain what might appear to be anomalous cases of alleged cognition or mental activity without brain function in near death experience. A specific programme of research is suggested in which the nature of the mind is explored neurophenomenologically.  
Enactivism , Indo-Tibetan Buddhism , Dynamic systems theory , Comparative philosophy of death and dying , Eco-dynamic paradigm
Greenberg, I. N. 2021. The interdependence of nature and nurture in the establishment and maintenance of mind: an eco-dynamic paradigm. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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© 2021, Ira N. Greenberg.