Embodied Cognition and the Grip of Computational Metaphors

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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(Penultimate draft) Embodied Cognition holds that bodily (e.g. sensorimotor) states and processes are directly involved in some higher-level cognitive functions (e.g. reasoning). This challenges traditional views of cognition according to which bodily states and processes are, at most, indirectly involved in higher-level cognition. Although some elements of Embodied Cognition have been integrated into mainstream cognitive science, others still face adamant resistance. In this paper, rather than straightforwardly defend Embodied Cognition against specific objections I will do the following. First, I will present a concise account of embodied conceptual processing and highlight some of its advantages over non-embodied accounts, specifically focusing on the role of metaphors. Second, I will detail the influence of computational metaphors on theories of cognition and evaluation of these theories. Third, I will argue that embodied cognitive mechanisms, specifically those operating through computational metaphors, may drive some of the resistance to Embodied Cognition - and that Embodied Cognition is able to offer a uniquely compelling account of this. Ultimately, this will contribute to an improved understanding of Embodied Cognition, its explanatory power, and how it ought to be evaluated. Additionally, it will shed light on the role of metaphors in shaping philosophical thought and highlight the importance of these influences.

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