Brain, body, and world: cognitive approaches to the Iliad and the Odyssey
Privitera, Siobhán Marie
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This thesis investigates the physical, material, and experiential aspects of thought and emotion in the Iliad and the Odyssey; more specifically, the ways in which the Homeric mind is extended through and by the body, and in which the body and its extensions express, illustrate, and inform psychological processes and mental concepts in Homer. Recent studies in cognitive science—in embodied, extended, embedded, and enactive approaches to mind—demonstrate the extent to which our psychological development is deeply and inextricably shaped not just within the confines of the brain, but also in the body and the world. This thesis seeks to apply these insights to the Iliad and the Odyssey, in order to show how this is also the case for Homer’s characters. In doing so, it primarily argues that Homeric conceptualizations of mind constitute the narrator’s way of presenting a “phenomenology of experience” throughout the poems: a reconstruction of the psychological workings of his characters that draws upon the physical, material, perceptual, and interactional aspects of experience.