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Embodied and Situated Cognition: Significance and Promise of a Paradigm Shift?

Author(s): Nader N. Chokr

Journal: Philosophical Frontiers : A Journal of Emerging Thought
ISSN 1758-1532

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 137;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Embodied | Situated | Cognition | Paradigm | Shift | ESC | CF

I examine the significance and promise of the ‘paradigm shift’evinced by the emergence and reception of the ‘embodied and situated cognition’ research program (ESC) in the past few decades. Such a program puts in question age-old assumptions, dichotomies and distinctions in the history of Western philosophy stretching back to Plato and onward to Descartes and beyond, up to the so- called ‘cognitivist framework’ (CF), which has come to dominate in both (Anglo-American) philosophy and the cognitive sciences. In order to better understand the main point(s) of contention between theses programs, I begin by tracing historically the emergence of CF to the Cartesian legacy – properly understood and interpreted, and proceed to characterize the fundamental contrast between CF and ESC, as I see it, in light of some of the empirical work done in recent years. I then turn to a philosophical discussion of the notions of‘embodiment’ and situatedness’ in order to delineate the proper and necessary background context for understanding ultimately what is at stake, in an effort to see how they are best ‘cashed in’ both theoretically and empirically. Finally, I re-focuson the situatedness of human cognition in order to make a modes proposal that further emphasizes its importance and significance within a properly conceived ESC research program, in which, I argue, despite claims to the contrary, the distinction between ‘embodied’ and ‘situated cognition’ does not make much sense. My proposal has, I contend, profound implications for future work at the intersectionof philosophy, the cognitive sciences, and socio-cultural studies, and possibly for reconceiving these endeavors and their relations altogether.
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