Klatzky, MacWhinney, and Behrmann – Embodiment, Ego-space, and Action

Embodiment Egospace and ActionHow Big is the Fourteen-inch Pizza?

Adams, W.A. (2009). Embodied Cognition Gropes for Cohesion.[Review of the book, Embodiment, Ego-Space, and Action]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, February 18, vol 54, release 7, article 6.

I once heard a customer in a pizza parlor ask the clerk, “How big is the fourteen inch pizza?”  For the contributors to this volume, that is not an unreasonable question, because they believe that much perception is understood in relation to the body, its location in space, and its activity.

Early theories of cognition focused on “disembodied” information processing, problem solving, memory retention, and computational linguistics. The embodied cognition movement arose in reaction, tapping sources like William James, Jean Piaget, James Gibson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Francisco Varela, who emphasized the importance of situational context, especially bodily context, in understanding cognition.

Perception and action  are not separate, content-agnostic cognitive modules, as traditionally taught.  The sensorimotor cycle extends from the world through the brain, and back out again, without mentality.  Paradoxically, however, most contributors to this volume are representationalists, a point of view that contradicts their basic assumptions of embodied cognition.

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