Out of the Cave: A Natural Philosophy of Mind and Knowing

by Mark L. Johnson and Don M. Tucker
The MIT Press, August 17, 2021

From a philosopher and a neuropsychologist, a radical rethinking of certain traditional views about human cognition and behavior.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave trapped us in the illusion that mind is separate from body and from the natural and physical world. Knowledge had to be eternal and absolute. Recent scientific advances, however, show that our bodies shape mind, thought, and language in a deep and pervasive way. In Out of the Cave, Mark Johnson and Don Tucker–a philosopher and a neuropsychologist–propose a radical rethinking of certain traditional views about human cognition and behavior. They argue for a theory of knowing as embodied, embedded, enactive, and emotionally based. Knowing is an ongoing process–shaped by our deepest biological and cultural values.

Johnson and Tucker describe a natural philosophy of mind that is emerging through the convergence of biology, psychology, computer science, and philosophy, and they explain recent research showing that all of our higher-level cognitive activities are rooted in our bodies through processes of perception, motive control of action, and feeling. This developing natural philosophy of mind offers a psychological, philosophical, and neuroscientific account that is at once scientifically valid and subjectively meaningful–allowing us to know both ourselves and the world.

About the Authors

Mark L. Johnson is Professor of Philosophy and Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Emeritus, at the University of Oregon. He is most recently the author of Embodied Mind, Meaning, and Reason as well as The Aesthetics of Meaning and Thought and other books. Don M. Tucker is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Neuroinformatics Center at the University of Oregon. Inventor of the geodesic sensor net, he is CEO and Senior Scientist at Brain Electrophysiology Laboratory Company.