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Embodied philosophy (also known as the embodied mind thesis, embodied cognition or the embodied cognition thesis) usually refers to a set of beliefs promoted by George Lakoff and his various co-authors (including Mark Johnson, Mark Turner, and Rafael E. Núñez), which suggest that the mind can only be well understood by taking into account the body and the more primitive underpinnings of the mind. This view is, therefore, opposed to other views of cognition, such as cognitivism, computationalism, connectionism and cartesian dualism.
According to Lakoff and Johnson, an embodied philosophy "would show the laws of thought to be metaphorical, not logical; truth would be a metaphorical construction, not an attribute of objective reality." That is, it would not rely on any foundation ontology from the physical sciences or from religion, but would likely proceed from metaphors known effective for certain situations, as in the philosophy of action.
The goals of this school of philosophy include a more localized political science, perhaps one tied to ecoregions rather than to global ideology, and a non-dualistic account of the body to complement the more dualistic accounts of philosophy of law and philosophy of medicine, which literally dispose of the body and parts of the body. These all have deep roots in traditional anti-Cartesian approaches, such as Immanuel Kant's "skeptical view, arguing that we can have no positive knowledge about the nature of the mind and rejecting Cartesian claims that we have a privileged self-knowledge." Kant was likewise concerned with medicine and law, and had long sought to find general principles of personal conduct, most famously his Categorical Imperative, the basis of his ethics.
Embodied philosophers as exemplified by Lakoff and Johnson have an even more ambitious goal: extensions to the embodied mind thesis based on findings in cognitive science, yielding a cognitive science of mathematics to explain how "isomorphism" is constructed from varying levels of metaphor, and why mathematicians accept this type of metaphor as "more real" than any other. This is distinct from the "social constructivism" view in the philosophy of mathematics.
However, some assumptions regarding human cognitive bias and falsifiability of assertions regarding it seem to be shared by both schools. Likewise, some of embodied philosophy is clearly convergent with postmodernism, feminism, "queer" and other social construction paradigms that discuss socially-enforced metaphorical construction as a product not only of an "embodied" cognitive bias or an "isomorphic" notation bias but also of culture bias. In this broader sense, embodied philosophy has most of its influence on political science, on green economists and their search for an "embodied" or "body-respecting" political economy. It could also be said to be the main thrust of the anti-globalization movement, i.e. embodiment as localization, although that claim is disputed by those who view that movement as one narrowly opposing just capitalism.
Humberto Maturana and his collaborator, the late biologist Francisco Varela, have also been major proponents of this view. This view is compatible with some views of cognition promoted in neuropsychology, such as the theories of consciousness of Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Gerald Edelman, and Antonio Damasio.
It could be argued that José Ortega y Gasset, George Santayana, Miguel de Unamuno, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger and others in the broadly existential tradition have proposed philosophies of mind very close to the 'embodiment' thesis.
- Body psychotherapy
- Cognitive Linguistics
- Cognitive neuropsychology
- Cognitive neuroscience
- Conceptual blending
- Conceptual metaphor
- Cognitive Science
- Mind-body dichotomy
- Mind-body problem
- Philosophy of mind
- Society for the Scientific Study of Embodiment
- Embodied Cognition - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- "Embodiment and Experientialism" from the Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics (pdf)
- Six Views of Embodied Cognition
- Embodied Cognition: A Field Guilde (pdf) - from an Artificial Intelligence perspective
- Pragmatism, Ideology, and Embodiment: William James and the Philosophical Foundations of Embodiment by Tim Rohrer
- Where the Action Is by Paul Dourish- for applications to human-computer interaction.
- Enactive Learning - for applications to education
- Visual Causality - an article on the embodied nature of causal perception
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