Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Jea Sophia Oh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward Lordan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Main, Ph.D.


The Ecology of Mind is a paper about conceptualizing consciousness and the effects those conceptualizations can have on our experiences of, and beliefs about, existence. The essay begins with an introduction to the importance of conceptualizations and moves on to describe a particular conceptualization of consciousness called the Dynamic-Recursive Model, which then serves as the point of focus for the rest of the project. The Dynamic-Recursive Model portrays consciousness as a system of co-construction and constant exchange, in which an experiencing-subject and their environment are in constant communion with one another. In subsequent chapters, this perspective is compared to the views found in many other seemingly dissonant schools of thought in order to better define the Dynamic-Recursive Model and to draw attention to some common threads between these other outlooks. After an in-depth comparison spanning from ancient Daoist philosophy to contemporary cognitive science, the project moves on to examine the implications and applications that can be drawn from adopting a view of consciousness like the one expressed in the Dynamic-Recursive Model. Finally, the essay closes with an acknowledgement of various trade-offs and limitations that come with entertaining this view, as well as an acknowledgement of the limitations faced by any endeavor in understanding consciousness.