My latest book, The Aesthetics of Meaning and Thought: The Bodily Roots of Philosophy, Science, Morality, and Art (Chicago, 2018) presents a series of my recent essays that deal with the need to rethink aesthetics so that it takes into account the central role of body-based meaning. Viewed in this way, the arts can give us profound insights into the processes of meaning-making that underlie our conceptual systems and cultural practices. I show how our embodiment shapes our philosophy, science, morality, and art; what emerges is a view of humans as aesthetic, meaning-making creatures who draw on their deepest physical processes to make sense of the world around them.
Embodied Mind, Meaning, and Reason: How Our Bodies Give Rise to Understanding (Chicago, 2017) brings together a selection of essays from the past two decades that argue for the central importance of our bodies in everything we experience, mean, think, say, value, and do. This embodied conception of mind shows how meaning and thought are profoundly shaped and constituted by our bodily perception, action, and feeling. By constructing a positive account of human meaning-making that draws on the cognitive science of the embodied mind, I challenge some of the fundamental assumption of analytic philosophy and early cognitive science.
In Morality for Humans Ethical Understanding from the Perspective of Cognitive Science (Chicago, 2014), I argue that appealing solely to absolute principles and values is not only scientifically unsound but even morally suspect. I show that the standards for the kinds of people we should be and how we should treat one another—which we often think of as universal—are in fact frequently subject to change.
Currently, working from an embodiment perspective, I am returning to my earlier interest in a non-reductivist naturalistic understanding of human values. Part of this project is an attempt to critically assess the recent upsurge of attention to empirically-based naturalistic conceptions of moral deliberation, judgment, and valuing. It seems to me that, in spite of much exciting work in this area, we still do not have a fully adequate and existentially satisfying overall view of what morality is, where it comes from, and how it changes over time.