Parallel Minds, 59–62


Through the Looking-Glass


The embodied cognition perspective provides us with valuable tools with which to confront the strange forms of intelligence that animate matter in its various guises. Although it is not possible for us to access the experience of the reaction of a sensitive gel to a certain chemical signal, just as it is not possible for us to access the experience of the octopus ‘seeing with its skin’, we cannot fail to recognise that these systems are bodies capable of some form of thought, because they are able to modify their own structure in order to act within the world. This, of course, does not mean that a material is endowed with consciousness, but that consciousness as we know it, although it appears to us to be a fundamental aspect of our experience, is not strictly necessary for the production of thought. Every intelligent material defines and constructs its own world, made up of signals and experiences that may be very different from ours, and with which it establishes a dynamic and continuous relationship. The recognition and study of these forms of experience is the gateway to a radical extension of our human perspective: working together with the materials we design and use, we can open up to a multiplicity of other perspectives that can then be integrated into a new technological, social, and political understanding of the world.…