Embodied cognition is the belief that many features of human cognition are shaped by aspects of the body beyond the brain. The features of cognition include high level mental constructs (such asconcepts and categories) and human performance on various cognitive tasks (such as reasoning or judgment). The aspects of the body include the motor system, the perceptual system, the body’s interactions with the environment (situatedness) and the ontological assumptions about the world that are built into the body and the brain.
The embodied mind thesis challenges other theories, such as cognitivism, computationalism, andCartesian dualism. It is closely related to the extended mind thesis, situated cognition andenactivism. The modern version depends on insights drawn from recent research in psychology,linguistics, cognitive science, dynamical systems, artificial intelligence,robotics and neurobiology.
In philosophy, embodied cognition holds that an agent’s cognition is strongly influenced by aspects of an agent’s body beyond the brain itself. In their proposal for an enactive approach to cognition Varela et al. defined “embodied”:
- “By using the term embodied we mean to highlight two points: first that cognition depends upon the kinds of experience that come from having a body with various sensorimotor capacities, and second, that these individual sensorimotor capacities are themselves embedded in a more encompassing biological, psychological and cultural context.”
- — Eleanor Rosch, Evan Thompson, Francisco J. Varela: The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience pages 172–173