To understand the mind and its place in Nature is one of the great intellectual challenges of our time, a challenge that is both scientific and philosophical. How does cognition influence an animal's behaviour? What are its neural underpinnings? How is the inner life of a human being constituted? What are the neural underpinnings of the conscious condition? Embodiment and the Inner Life approaches each of these questions from a scientific standpoint. But it contends that, before we can make progress on them, we have to give up the habit of thinking metaphysically, a habit that creates a fog of philosophical confusion. From this post-reflective point of view, the book argues for an intimate relationship between cognition, sensorimotor embodiment, and the integrative character of the conscious condition. Drawing on insights from psychology, neuroscience, and dynamical systems, it proposes an empirical theory of this three-way relationship whose principles, not being tied to the contingencies of biology or physics, are applicable to the whole space of possible minds in which humans and other animals are included. Embodiment and the Inner Life is one of very few books that provides a properly joined-up theory of consciousness, and will be essential reading for all psychologists, philosophers, and neuroscientists with an interest in the enduring puzzle of consciousness.
Murray Shanahan graduated in Computer Science from Imperial College London in 1984. He gained his PhD in 1988, for research in Artificial Intelligence, from Cambridge University (King's College), where he also devoted a great deal of time to philosophy. He carried out postdoctoral work, first at Imperial College then Queen Mary College London, before rejoining Imperial College as a lecturer in 1998. He was awarded the title of Professor of Cognitive Robotics in 2006. His peer-reviewed publications cover a variety of disciplines, including computer science, neural networks, psychology, mathematics, and philosophy.