Language as a disruptive technology: Abstract concepts, embodiment and the flexible mind

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Abstract
A growing body of evidence suggests that cognition is embodied and grounded. Abstract concepts, though, remain a significant theoretical chal- lenge. A number of researchers have proposed that language makes an important contribution to our capacity to acquire and employ concepts, particularly abstract ones. In this essay, I critically examine this suggestion and ultimately defend a version of it. I argue that a successful account of how language augments cognition should emphasize its symbolic properties and incorporate a view of embodiment that recognizes the flexible, multi- modal and task-related nature of action, emotion and perception systems. On this view, language is an ontogenetically disruptive cognitive technology that expands our conceptual reach.
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Archival date: 2019-01-30
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2019-01-30

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