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The Bodily Roots of Conscious Experiences in Early Life

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Event Series Event Series: Theories of Consciousness

February 18 @ 6:00 pm 8:00 pm CET

Poster for the Pari Center's Theories of Consciousness series

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The Bodily Roots of Conscious Experiences in Early Life

With Anna Ciaunica

Sunday February 18, 2024
9:00am PST | 12:00pm EST | 5:00pm GMT  |  6:00pm CET

2-hour session

The session is live and you will be sent the RECORDING.

Discussions about the nature of consciousness are typically couched in a way that endorses a tacit adult-centric and vision-based perspective. Here I will examine the nature of subjective experiences through a bottom-up developmental lens, drawing attention to experiencing subjects as embodied and situated organisms essentially concerned with self-preservation within a precarious environment. How do embodied experiences ‘arise’ from square one? I will concentrate on a key yet overlooked aspect of human consciousness studies, namely, that the earliest and closest environment of an embodied experiencing subject is the body of another human experiencing subject. I will present evidence for fairly sophisticated forms of early sensorimotor integration of bodily signals and self-generated actions already being established in utero. These primite relational co-embodied roots of our early experiences may have a crucial impact on how we experience our-selves, our bodies and the world across our lifespan.

Anna Ciaunica’s research in philosophy of mind and cognitive science focuses on the relationship between (a)typical forms of self-consciousness, embodiment and social interactions in human and artificial agents. Her PhD thesis ‘Physicalism and Qualia’ tackled the mind-body problem. During her first postdoctoral assignments in Switzerland and Portugal she examined the link between disrupted sense of self, (dis)embodiment and social connectedness in conditions such as Autism, Möbius Syndrome and Depersonalization Disorder. Anna is currently the Principal Investigator of two interdisciplinary projects. (1) The first looks at the relationship between altered sense of self and social alienation in Depersonalisation. (2) The second examines self-consciousness and social interactions in human and artificial agents. In her work, she combines conceptual resources from philosophy of mind and the phenomenological tradition with experimental methods from psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Anna is the main coordinator of the Network for Embodied Consciousness and the Arts (NECTArs) – a collaborative platform bringing together artists, researchers, stakeholders, policy makers and people with lived experiences, aiming at fostering creative approaches to timely issues such as self-awareness and (dis)embodiment in our hyper-digitalized world.