ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2011, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (05): 589-598.

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Embodied Cognition: A Consideration from Theoretical Psychology

YE Hao-Sheng   

  1. The Center for Mind and Brain, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2010-11-16 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2011-05-30 Online:2011-05-30
  • Contact: YE Hao-Sheng

Abstract: Embodied Cognition (EC) is a growing popular research program in cognitive science in general and cognitive psychology in particular. It emphasizes the formative role the organism’s structure of body and sensorimotor systems playing in the development of mind and cognitive processes. The notion of EC stands in contrast to the traditional cognitive psychology which regards the mind as a device to manipulate symbols and our cognitive capacities should be understood in terms of computational procedures operating on symbolic, internal states and processes. EC rejects this notion of the cognition and proposes that bodily states and structure, the physical attributes of the body and brain’s modal systems for perception, action, and introspection shape the mind. In other words, the particular way in which an organism is embodied can definitely have an impact on the organism’s mind and action in the world. According to EC, not only is cognition embodied, but also embedded. That means that our cognitive capacities arises from bodily interactions with the world and is continually meshed with them. The brain is embedded in the body, and the body is embedded in environment. The mind, brain, body and environment are organized into an integrative system. At early stage, EC research program is just a metaphysical thinking that is aimed at against Descartes’ dualism in mind-body relations. Through the philosophy of cognitive science and theoretical psychology, EC has now become a hot topic in experimental psychology. Accumulative evidences have showed the embodiment of cognition, emotion, memory, self-concept, attitude, judgment and other psychological processes and states. The advances in neuroscience provide EC research with convenient instruments. EC has taken advantage of the methods, technology, datum and results of neuroscience. But in so doing, proponents of EC do not intend to reduce the psychological to the physiological and the physical. EC research approach, therefore, can not be of reductionism. In the mean time, the neuroscience approach in EC provide psychology with a brand new perspectives, by which psychologists can make study on cognitive processes at a neural level other than at a behavioral level only. Both of the two levels are necessary for psychological research. It will not have a harm effect on psychological science.

Key words: embodied cognition, theoretical psychology, reductionism, neuroscience