C. Mark Johnson – Architecture and Neuroscience

This piece is an interview with Mark Johnson, author of Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought (Basic Books, 1999). It addresses the implications for new findings in neuroscience for our ideas about embodiment.

  • “We have inherited, in the western tradition at least, a pretty profound dualism about mind and body. […] A disembodied soul that happens to inhabit a body for some period of time—that’s the kind of dualism that I think recent cognitive science is overturning.”

  • “…a lot of our metaphors […] have body-based source domains and we understand abstract concepts […] on the basis of bodily experiences.”

  • “The new view is that perception is only possible because organisms are active creatures in an environment.”

  • “…structures of thought are related to matter and space in history. […] architecture can be understood as a kind of medium in history, against whose form different conventional structures of cultural though have been manifested.”

  • “Everybody’s walking around a beautiful campus […] and they’re all looking at their cell phones. […] There’s some things you can’t get off that. […] There’s a loss. But it is not disembodied.”

  • “Human body part projection is massive in languages around the world and it’s not surprising it plays a fundamental role in architecture.”

  • “The new that emerges […] isn’t radically other. It is an extension of aspects of our conventionalized metaphors.”

  • “[Some surrealist work] is non-sense. And sometimes they wanted the nonsense to stop you from running your standard categorizations and conceptualizations […] but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningful. […] You can disrupt processes sometimes […] but […] you need to rewire. So you need to activate connections and strengthen connections that go in different ways.”



Griffin Ofiesh

Issue Editor

Joseph Bedford


Joseph Bedford

Founding Editor

Joseph Bedford


Alastair Stokes


Mark Johnson (Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon)


Joseph Bedford and Andrew Ferentinos


MIT, Boston