But what that thesis is has evolved over time and will continue to evolve.
Embodied vs Traditional Cognitive Science Consider four evocative examples of phenomena that have motivated embodied cognitive science.
We typically gesture when we speak to one another, and gesturing facilitates not just communication but language processing itself McNeill There are neurons, mirror neurons, that fire not only when we undertake an action, but do so when we observe others undertaking the same actions Rizzolatti and Craighero We are often able to perform cognitive tasks, such as remembering, more effectively by using our bodies and even parts of our surrounding environments to off-load storage and simplify The wilson thesis nature of the cognitive processing Donald Although phenomena such as 1 — 4 motivate embodied cognitive science, appealing to such phenomena to arrive at more substantive conclusions that have been drawn—for example, that traditional cognitive science is deeply flawed, or that dominant positions in the philosophy of mind, such as functionalism, are mistaken—requires further philosophical argument.
Because the requisite argumentation typically appeals to other concepts central to work in empirically-informed philosophy of mind and cognitive science itself, such as modularity and nativism, debate over embodied cognition has become a hot topic in cognitive science in recent years Adams ; Aizawa ; Chemero ; Shapiro Traditional cognitive science has certainly conceptualized central cognitive processing, what we will call cognition in the narrow sense, in abstraction from bodily mechanisms of sensory processing and motor control.
Research programs within artificial intelligence exemplify this view of cognition in the narrow sense, and they have been one of the clearest targets of embodied cognitive science.
More positively, embodied cognitive science aims to understand the full range of perceptual, cognitive, and motor capacities we possess, cognition in the broad sense, as capacities that are dependent upon features of the physical body.
In this article, we consider cognition construed both narrowly and broadly, in these senses.
Finally by way of introducing embodied cognitive science, we note its relationship to situated cognition SmithRobbins and Aydede As a paradigm within situated cognition, embodied cognitive science can be distinguished from both the study of embedded cognition and the thesis of extended cognition.
Without the involvement of the body in both sensing and acting, thoughts would be empty, and mental affairs would not exhibit the characteristics and properties they do.
Work on embedded cognition, by contrast, draws on the view that cognition deeply depends on the natural and social environment. By focusing on the strategies organisms use to off-load cognitive processing onto the environment, this work places particular emphasis on the ways in which cognitive activity is distributed across the agent and her physical, social, and cultural environment SuchmanHutchins The thesis of extended cognition is the claim that cognitive systems themselves extend beyond the boundary of the individual organism.
Clark and ChalmersR. ClarkMenary We follow recent authors A. Clark ; Rupert b; Shapiroin holding that while embodied cognitive science can be neatly distinguished, in principle, from both of these other forms of situated cognition, and that there are times when this is useful even crucialthe broader philosophical issues in play are also revealingly discussed sometimes by considering these views together.
Thus, although this article focuses on the specific ways in which cognition depends on the physical body, it also discusses situated cognition more generally, as appropriate. We then turn more briefly to influential work on embodied cognition in the broad sense Sections 2.
Beginning in their Metaphors We Live ByGeorge Lakoff and Mark Johnson argued that such language, and metaphor in particular, was not simply a phenomenon to be studied in the domain of cognition, but actively structures much of cognition traditionally thought to be isolated from metaphor.
If human experience is intricately bound up with large-scale metaphors, and both experience and metaphor are shaped up by the kinds of bodies we have that mediate between agent and world, argued Lakoff and Johnson, then cognition is embodied in a way not anticipated within traditional cognitive science.
Although Lakoff and Johnson developed the basic idea here in different ways see also Lakoff and JohnsonJohnsonthe general flavor of the view they share can be conveyed by considering a well-known example they discuss: Those in a romantic relationship are often said to head off together, travel the same path, take wrong turns, retrace their steps, check their bearings, and pack their bags.
For Lakoff and Johnson, this non-literal language is not merely peripheral expression useful for adding bells and whistles to the bustle of communication, but reflects something deep about how love is conceptualized. Importantly, the central organizing metaphor—love is a journey—involves a mapping from one domain journeys to another lovewhere the source domain is informed by our bodily physicality and the embodied experience that we have as creatures who move through the world to achieve purposes and goals.The OAKTrust digital repository at Texas A&M is a digital service that collects, preserves, and distributes the scholarly output of the University.
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