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Evans, R 2009, 'Physical thinking : the body in the mind of creativity and cognition', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright R Evans 2009


This project works with the understanding that cognitive processes occur within the domain of embodied, sensory experience, and that the developmental emergence of mind and creativity are integral, and intrinsic to such experience. Through an extensive personal involvement in arts practice, and through reflection on past engagement in other fields of activity, I consider the central role that bodily experience plays in the individual shaping of cognitive and creative development. I propose the notion of physical thinking and relate my own personal knowledge of exercising this mode of thought across a broad range of creative processes, both within the arts and in other disciplines. On a macro level, I speculate that such an approach affords the fostering of a more individuated course of creative development across a lifespan, and explore the question of how reflective consciousness of our embodied personal experience can inform the manner in which we negotiate this path. I posit a view therefore that asserts the primacy of the body, the whole sensory self, as an instrument of ‘navigation’ within this heuristic. More specifically, I endeavour to detail practical examples of where I would consider physical thinking to have guided my actions within the ‘creative process’, and argue that this has engendered more individuated significations and developments in my work. As a principally sensory-perceptual, bodily-based mode of thought, my conjecture is that this faculty will, by definition, resonate characteristically of an individual’s uniqueness as an embodied self, and can therefore serve as a means of enhanced self-knowing. My research into creative practice is further enabled by reference to theory across a range of disciplines. In particular I employ Maturana and Varela’s self-organising systems theory, and relate this to aspects of phenomenology, and to recent theoretical directions emerging out of cognitive science, and the ‘new’ biological and physical sciences.

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