I received my Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1990 and my A.B. in Asian Studies from Amherst College in 1983. While writing my dissertation from 1986-89 I also studied with Francisco Varela (1946-2001) at CREA (Centre de Recherche en Epistemologie Applique) at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. During this time we also wrote our book, The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (MIT Press, 1991). From 1989-91 I was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship, which I held first at the Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, and then at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, where I worked with Daniel Dennett.
During 1991-92 I was a non-tenure stream Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Toronto. I then held tenure-stream appointments in the Philosophy Departments at Concordia University (1992-94), Boston University (1994-96), and York University (1996-2005). I received tenure and became Associate Professor at York University in 1998, and then from 2002-2005 held a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Cognitive Science and the Embodied Mind. While at York University I was also a member of the Centre for Vision Research.
From 2005-2013 I was a Full Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, where I was also a member of the undergraduate program in Cognitive Science. In July, 2013, I joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver campus) as a Full Professor.
I have held visiting appointments at CREA, the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen, the Philosophy Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Faculty of Philosophy, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany. In the winter/spring semester of 2014, I will be a Numata Visiting Professor at the Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
As a child and teenager in the 1970s I was home-schooled at the Lindisfarne Association, an educational and contemplative institute and community founded by my father, William Irwin Thompson. It was there that I first met Francisco Varela when he attended a conference in 1977 organized by my father and Gregory Bateson on “Mind in Nature.” Varela then lived with us as a Scholar in Residence and became a Lindisfarne Fellow.