Absolutization - The Source of Dogma, Repression, and Conflict - Robert M. Ellis

Absolutization - The Source of Dogma, Repression, and Conflict - Robert M. Ellis

Embodied Meaning

Absolutization - The Source of Dogma, Repression, and Conflict - Robert M. Ellis

Robert M. Ellis [+-]
Middle Way Society
Robert M Ellis has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Cambridge BA in Oriental Studies and Theology. Originally from a Christian background, he spent about 20 years practising Buddhism, including as a member of the Triratna Order. However, he now describes himself as a Middle Way practitioner without exclusive loyalty to any one religious tradition. Over the last 20 years he has developed Middle Way Philosophy, initially in his Ph.D. thesis. This is best described as a practical and integrative philosophical approach, incorporating many elements not only from Buddhism but also from psychology, neuroscience, and other aspects of Western thought. In 2013 he founded the Middle Way Society (www.middlewaysociety.org) to develop and apply Middle Way Philosophy beyond the limitations of the Buddhist tradition, both in theory and practice. Robert has earned a living for more than 20 years as a teacher and tutor of philosophy and related subjects. He has previously published both academic and introductory books about Middle Way Philosophy, and recently a parallel book on Christianity, ‘The Christian Middle Way’.


a. Representationalism The development of embodied meaning theory, which shows meaning to be based on associative neural connection in response to experience, gives a context for understanding the limitations of representationalism. Representationalism assumes that meaning consists in the relationship between propositions and the actual or potential ‘reality’ that they describe. Absolutization assumes representationalism because its propositional claims as a whole are entirely ‘semantic’ and deny the variation of meaning with experience. b. The Denial of Embodiment The application of representationalism is combined with a more general denial of most of our embodied experience through the over-dominance of the left hemisphere perspective. This denial takes the form of the substitution of a disembodied shortcut for a more adequate process based on wider experience, encouraged by cultural entrenchment. This chapter briefly discusses 12 forms of this denial of embodiment. c. Discontinuity Discontinuity in space, time and conceptual space is a feature of absolutization due to the restriction of options in space. This is maintained by the over-dominance of left hemisphere sequencing over right hemisphere sustained attention, and makes us ignore the continuity of all organic processes. Although discontinuity is needed for practical judgement, absolutization takes this discontinuity out of that practical context. d. Interpretation Embodiment provides a wider context to help us distinguish whether statements that are apparently absolute in content are psychologically absolutizing. The presence of conditionality, practicality or a focus on meaning all provide contextual indications of non-absolutizing. Individual words or symbols also cannot be absolute by themselves unless they represent a belief. Nevertheless, absolutization can in practice be identified quite clearly in many contexts.

Notify A Colleague


Ellis, Robert. Embodied Meaning. Absolutization - The Source of Dogma, Repression, and Conflict. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 61-88 Oct 2022. ISBN 9781800502062. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44326. Date accessed: 04 Jun 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44326. Oct 2022

Dublin Core Metadata