Mind, Body, Brain, and the Conditions of Meaning

Rebecca Seligman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This article explores the relationship between meaning and the body, and the role of mind and brain in mediating this relationship. Drawing on research on “grounded cognition” in cognitive neuropsychology, I consider the mechanisms through which meanings become embodied. I illustrate my argument using examples of the ways in which meaning conditions experiences of illness and health. Focusing especially on the example of religious healing through spirit possession, I explore how the state of one's body can be “conditioned” by meaning, and in turn, how the condition of one's body may affect cognitive processes of meaning making. In doing so, this article aims not only to inform anthropological understandings of embodiment, but also the way we think about cognition, knowledge, and meaning. [Embodiment, brain, grounded cognition, spirit possession, religious healing].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-417
Number of pages21
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • cognition ancrée
  • corporalité, cerveau
  • la guérison religieuse
  • possession spirituelle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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