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Summary

Embodied and situated approaches have become increasingly popular in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognition. They tend to be scientifically informed responses to the cognitivism predominant in mid-twentieth century analytic philosophy of mind and psychology. Cognitivism in philosophy assumed - either explicitly or implicitly - that the non-neural body and the environment in which we live and act are best factored out in our investigations of mind and cognition. Embodied and situated approaches along with other related responses to philosophical cognitivism have collectively come to be known as “4EA”: Embodied, Embedded, Enactive, Extended, and Affective. While 4EA approaches are united in rejecting the conception of mind and cognition as supervenient only upon internal brain processes they each take a slightly different focus on the reasons why internalism should be rejected and the positions may be held independently. For example, what we might think of as orthodox embodied cognitive science makes little or no mention of the affective domain and it does not imply biological enactivism, which - by its very nature - is itself an inherently embodied approach to cognition. In a similar vein, some of these approaches may be thought to be extensions to twentieth century functionalist philosophy of mind and cognitive science, while in others there is a strong historical connection to the Phenomenologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (in particular Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty) and/or the American Pragmatists such as William James and John Dewey. 

Key works

Clark 1996 captured the imagination of a generation of researchers in philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences by drawing on research from robotics to argue that the mind is embodied and embedded in important ways. Gallagher 2005 integrates phenomenology and neuroscience with artificial cognitive systems research to argue that the body shapes the mind. Haugeland 1993 is an early - but classic - paper introducing embodiment and situatedness to philosophy of mind, and Brooks 1991 is the key reference from robotics in the field. Hutchins 1995 is the go-to book on embeddedness, and Dreyfus 1972 still stands as one of the main critiques of traditional artificial intelligence approaches. Enactivism was introduced to the world through Varela et al 1991, developed in detail in regard to what might be thought of as ‘biological’ enactivism in Thompson 2007, in regard to ‘perceptual’ enactivism in Noë 2005, and in regard to perception, agency and consciousness in Hurley 1998. Affective cognition is still underrepresented in the embodiment paradigm but Damasio 1994 and Damasio 1999 have been strong influences on philosophers in this area, Griffiths & Scarantino 2005 presents a strongly situated theory of emotions, and Colombetti 2013 provides an in-depth consideration of affective and emotional embodiment.

Introductions

An overview of most of the 4E approaches is presented in the second edition of Clark's Mindware, an introductory textbook for the philosophy of cognitive science. Clark's Natural Born Cyborgs is a very readable lay-introduction to embodiment and the extended mind, but for a more thorough investigation see Supersizing the Mind. A scientifically informed introduction to the phenomenological approach to these issues is presented in Gallagher and Zahavi's The Phenomenological Mind and Noe's Out of our Heads provides an accessible introduction to perceptual enactivism. A thorough consideration of embodied approaches and their relevance to philosophy of mind can be found in Shapiro's Embodied Cognition and his (2014) edited collection The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition collates cutting-edge articles from many of the key players in the discipline.

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Siblings:See also:History/traditions: Embodiment and Situated Cognition
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  1. Darren Abramson (2009). Book Review: "Supersizing the Mind" by Andy Clark. [REVIEW] International Journal of Machine Consciousness 1 (02):299-304.
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  2. Fred Adams (2010). Embodied Cognition. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (4):619-628.
    Embodied cognition is sweeping the planet. On a non-embodied approach, the sensory system informs the cognitive system and the motor system does the cognitive system’s bidding. There are causal relations between the systems but the sensory and motor systems are not constitutive of cognition. For embodied views, the relation to the sensori-motor system to cognition is constitutive, not just causal. This paper examines some recent empirical evidence used to support the view that cognition is embodied and raises questions about some (...)
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  3. Philip E. Agre (1995). Computation and Embodied Agency. Informatica 19:527-35.
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  4. Adrian John Tetteh Alsmith & Frédérique Vignemont (2012). Embodying the Mind and Representing the Body. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (1):1-13.
    Does the existence of body representations undermine the explanatory role of the body? Or do certain types of representation depend so closely upon the body that their involvement in a cognitive task implicates the body itself? In the introduction of this special issue we explore lines of tension and complement that might hold between the notions of embodiment and body representations, which remain too often neglected or obscure. To do so, we distinguish two conceptions of embodiment that either put weight (...)
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  5. Michael Anderson, Reviews. [REVIEW]
    Embodied cognition (EC) is growing up, and How the Body Shapes the Mind is both a sign of, and substantive contributor to, this ongoing development. Born in or about 1991 (the year of publication of seminal works by Brooks, Dreyfus, and Varela, Thompson & Rosch), EC is only now emerging from a tumultuous but exciting childhood marked in particular by the size and breadth of the extended family hoping to have some impact on its early education and upbringing. As family (...)
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  6. Michael L. Anderson, Embodied Cognition: The Teenage Years.
    A review of Gallagher, S. (2005). How the Body Shapes the Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  7. Michael L. Anderson (2005). Representation, Evolution and Embodiment. Theoria Et Historia Scientarum.
    As part of the ongoing attempt to fully naturalize the concept of human being--and, more specifically, to re-center it around the notion of agency--this essay discusses an approach to defining the content of representations in terms ultimately derived from their central, evolved function of providing guidance for action. This 'guidance theory' of representation is discussed in the context of, and evaluated with respect to, two other biologically inspired theories of representation: Dan Lloyd's dialectical theory of representation and Ruth Millikan's biosemantics.
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  8. Michael L. Anderson (2003). Embodied Cognition: A Field Guide. Artificial Intelligence 149 (1):91-130.
    The nature of cognition is being re-considered. Instead of emphasizing formal operations on abstract symbols, the new approach foregrounds the fact that cognition is, rather, a situated activity, and suggests that thinking beings ought therefore be considered first and foremost as acting beings. The essay reviews recent work in Embodied Cognition, provides a concise guide to its principles, attitudes and goals, and identifies the physical grounding project as its central research focus.
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  9. Michael L. Anderson (1997). Content and Comportment: On Embodiment and the Epistemic Availability of the World. Rowman and Littlefield.
    "Content and Comportment argues persuasively that the answer to some long-standing questions in epistemology and metaphysics lies in taking up the neglected question of the role of our bodily activity in establishing connections between representational states?knowledge and belief in particular?and their objects in the world. It takes up these ideas from both current mainstream analytic philosophy?Frege, Dummett, Davidson, Evans?and from mainstream continental work?Heidegger and his commentators and critics?and bings them together successfully in a way that should surprise only those who (...)
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  10. Michael L. Anderson, Michael J. Richardson & Anthony Chemero (2012). Eroding the Boundaries of Cognition: Implications of Embodiment1. Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (4):717-730.
    To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between (...)
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  11. István Aranyosi (forthcoming). Margins of Me: A Personal Story (Chapter 1 of The Peripheral Mind). In The Peripheral Mind. Philosophy of Mind and the Peripheral Nervous System. OUP.
    The author presents an autobiographical story of serious peripheral motor nerve damage resulting from chemotoxicity induced as a side effect of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treatment. The first-person, phenomenological account of the condition naturally leads to philosophical questions about consciousness, felt presence of oneself all over and within one’s body, and the felt constitutiveness of peripheral processes to one’s mental life. The first-person data only fit well with a philosophical approach to the mind that takes peripheral, bodily events and states at their (...)
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  12. István Aranyosi (forthcoming). Toward a Well-Innervated Philosophy of Mind (Chapter 4 of The Peripheral Mind). Oxford University Press.
    The “brain in a vat” thought experiment is presented and refuted by appeal to the intuitiveness of what the author informally calls “the eye for an eye principle”, namely: Conscious mental states typically involved in sensory processes can conceivably successfully be brought about by direct stimulation of the brain, and in all such cases the utilized stimulus field will be in the relevant sense equivalent to the actual PNS or part of it thereof. In the second section, four classic problems (...)
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  13. Saray Ayala (2010). Superfunctionalizing the Mind. [REVIEW] Teorema (1).
  14. Murat Aydede & P. Robbins (eds.) (2009). The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge.
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  15. Andrew R. Bailey, Consciousness and the Embodied Self.
    This paper deals with the relationship between the embodied cognition paradigm and two sets of its implications: its implications for the ontology of selves, and its implications for the nature and extent of phenomenal consciousness. There has been a recent wave of interest within cognitive science in the paradigm variously called ‘embodied,’ ‘extended,’ ‘situated’ or ‘distributed’ cognition. Although ideas applied in the embodied cognition research program can be traced back to the work of Heidegger, Piaget, Vygotsky, Merleau-Ponty, and Dewey, the (...)
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  16. J. Mark Baldwin (1909). Motor Processes and Mental Unity. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 6 (7):182-185.
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  17. Dana Ballard (1991). Animate Vision. Artificial Intelligence 48:57-86.
  18. Dana H. Ballard, Mary M. Hayhoe, Polly K. Pook & Rajesh P. N. Rao (1997). Pointing the Way. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (4):758-763.
    The majority of commentators agree that the time to focus on embodiment has arrived and that the disembodied approach that was taken from the birth of artificial intelligence is unlikely to provide a satisfactory account of the special features of human intelligence. In our Response, we begin by addressing the general comments and criticisms directed at the emerging enterprise of deictic and embodied cognition. In subsequent sections we examine the topics that constitute the core of the commentaries: embodiment mechanisms, dorsal (...)
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  19. Luca Barlassina & Albert Newen (2014). The Role of Bodily Perception in Emotion: In Defense of an Impure Somatic Theory. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (3):637-678.
    In this paper, we develop an impure somatic theory of emotion, according to which emotions are constituted by the integration of bodily perceptions with representations of external objects, events, or states of affairs. We put forward our theory by contrasting it with Prinz's pure somatic theory, according to which emotions are entirely constituted by bodily perceptions. After illustrating Prinz's theory and discussing the evidence in its favor, we show that it is beset by serious problems—i.e., it gets the neural correlates (...)
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  20. Amanda Barnier, John Sutton, Celia Harris & Robert A. Wilson (2008). A Conceptual and Empirical Framework for the Social Distribution of Cognition: The Case of Memory. Cognitive Systems Research 9 (1):33-51.
  21. L. Barsalou (2008). Embodied Language and Concepts. In G. R. Semin & Eliot R. Smith (eds.), Embodied Grounding: Social, Cognitive, Affective, and Neuroscientific Approaches. Cambridge University Press.
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  22. Fiorella Battaglia (2012). The Embodied Self and the Feeling of Being Alive. In Joerg Fingerhut & Sabine Marienberg (eds.), Feelings of Being Alive / Gefühle des Lebendigseins. De Gruyter. 201-222.
    This paper aims to render some aspects of the feeling of being alive more clearly comprehensible. My emphasis on the phenomenal quality of consciousness stems from the “embodied” approach to consciousness, according to which consciousness, since it is considered a phenomenon of life, includes both intentional and motivational aspects. In this view, its phenomenal quality is an inherent property of the embodied self, which relates both to the external world and to itself. The feeling of being alive is not neutral; (...)
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  23. M. Beaton (2013). Phenomenology and Embodied Action. Constructivist Foundations 8 (3):298-313.
    Context: The enactivist tradition, out of which neurophenomenology arose, rejects various internalisms – including the representationalist and information-processing metaphors – but remains wedded to one further internalism: the claim that the structure of perceptual experience is directly, constitutively linked only to internal, brain-based dynamics. Problem: I aim to reject this internalism and defend an alternative analysis. Method: The paper presents a direct-realist, externalist, sensorimotor account of perceptual experience. It uses the concept of counterfactual meaningful action to defend this view against (...)
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  24. R. Beer (1995). A Dynamical Systems Perspective on Agent-Environment Interaction. Artificial Intelligence 72:173-215.
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  25. J. C. Berendzen (2014). Motor Imagery and Merleau-Pontyian Accounts of Skilled Action. Ergo 1 (7):169-198.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty is often interpreted as claiming that opportunities for action are directly present in perceptual experience. However, he does not provide much evidence for how or why this would occur, and one can doubt that this is an appropriate interpretation of his phenomenological descriptions. In particular, it could be argued the Merleau-Pontyian descriptions mistakenly attribute pre-perceptual or post-perceptual elements such as allocation of attention or judgment to the perceptual experience itself. This paper argues for the Merleau-Pontyian idea that opportunities (...)
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  26. Jose Luis Bermudez, Anthony J. Marcel & Naomi M. Eilan (eds.) (1995). The Body and the Self. MIT Press.
  27. Dorrit Billman & Justin Peterson (1989). Critique of Structural Analysis in Modeling Cognition: A Case Study of Jackendoff's Theory. Philosophical Psychology 2 (3):283 – 296.
    Modeling cognition by structural analysis of representation leads to systematic difficulties which are not resolvable. We analyse the merits and limits of a representation-based methodology to modeling cognition by treating Jackendoff's Consciousness and the Computational Mind as a good case study. We note the effects this choice of methodology has on the view of consciousness he proposes, as well as a more detailed consideration of the computational mind. The fundamental difficulty we identify is the conflict between the desire for modular (...)
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  28. M. Bitbol (2012). Neurophenomenology, an Ongoing Practice of/in Consciousness. Constructivist Foundations 7 (3):165-173.
    Context: In his work on neurophenomenology, the late Francisco Varela overtly tackled the well-known “hard problem” of the (physical) origin of phenomenal consciousness. Problem: Did he have a theory for solving this problem? No, he declared, only a “remedy.” Yet this declaration has been overlooked: Varela has been considered (successively or simultaneously) as an idealist, a dualist, or an identity theorist. Results: These primarily theoretical characterizations of Varela’s position are first shown to be incorrect. Then it is argued that there (...)
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  29. Johan Blomberg & Jordan Zlatev (2014). Actual and Non-Actual Motion: Why Experientialist Semantics Needs Phenomenology (and Vice Versa). [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (3):395-418.
    Experientialist semantics has contributed to a broader notion of linguistic meaning by emphasizing notions such as construal, perspective, metaphor, and embodiment, but has suffered from an individualist concept of meaning and has conflated experiential motivations with conventional semantics. We argue that these problems can be redressed by methods and concepts from phenomenology, on the basis of a case study of sentences of non-actual motion such as “The mountain range goes all the way from Mexico to Canada.” Through a phenomenological reanalysis (...)
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  30. Donald Borrett, Sean D. Kelly & Hon Kwan (2000). Bridging Embodied Cognition and Brain Function: The Role of Phenomenology. Philosophical Psychology 13 (2):261-266.
    Both cognitive science and phenomenology accept the primacy of the organism-environment system and recognize that cognition should be understood in terms of an embodied agent situated in its environment. How embodiment is seen to shape our world, however, is fundamentally different in these two disciplines. Embodiment, as understood in cognitive science, reduces to a discussion of the consequences of having a body like ours interacting with our environment and the relationship is one of contingent causality. Embodiment, as understood phenomenologically, represents (...)
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  31. Matt Bower (2014). Developing Open Intersubjectivity: On the Interpersonal Shaping of Experience. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-20.
    The aim of this paper is to motivate the need for and then present the outline of an alternative explanation of what Dan Zahavi has dubbed “open intersubjectivity,” which captures the basic interpersonal character of perceptual experience as such. This is a notion whose roots lay in Husserl’s phenomenology. Accordingly, the paper begins by situating the notion of open intersubjectivity – as well as the broader idea of constituting intersubjectivity to which it belongs – within Husserl’s phenomenology as an approach (...)
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  32. Matt Bower & Shaun Gallagher (2013). Bodily Affects as Prenoetic Elements in Enactive Perception. Phenomenology and Mind 4 (1):78-93.
    In this paper we attempt to advance the enactive discourse on perception by highlighting the role of bodily affects as prenoetic constraints on perceptual experience. Enactivists argue for an essential connection between perception and action, where action primarily means skillful bodily intervention in one’s surroundings. Analyses of sensory-motor contingencies (as in Noë 2004) are important contributions to the enactive account. Yet this is an incomplete story since sensory-motor contingencies are of no avail to the perceiving agent without motivational pull in (...)
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  33. Noah Moss Brender (2013). Sense-Making and Symmetry-Breaking. Symposium: The Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy 17 (2):246-270.
    From his earliest work forward, Merleau-Ponty attempted to develop a new ontology of nature that would avoid the antinomies of realism and idealism by showing that nature has its own endogenous sense which is prior to reflection. The key to this new ontology was the concept of form, which he appropriated from Gestalt psychology. However, Merleau-Ponty struggled to give a positive characterization of the phenomenon of form which would clarify its ontological status. Evan Thompson has recently taken up Merleau-Ponty’s ontology (...)
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  34. Robert Greenleaf Brice (2013). ‘The Whole Hurly-Burly’: Wittgenstein and Embodied Cognition. Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (1-2):49-58.
    While typically ignored by the cognitive sciences, Wittgenstein’s later work provides those defending embodied cognition (EC) with essential philosophical tools that serve to strengthen the argument against cognitivism. Cognition, as Wittgenstein’s work demonstrates, is not simply a matter of disembodied intellect, but is actional, time-pressured, body-based, and dependent on the larger environment.
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  35. P. Briñol & R. E. Petty (2008). The Embodiment of Power and Communalism in Space and Bodily Contact. In G. R. Semin & Eliot R. Smith (eds.), Embodied Grounding: Social, Cognitive, Affective, and Neuroscientific Approaches. Cambridge University Press.
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  36. Robert Briscoe (2008). Vision, Action, and Make‐Perceive. Mind and Language 23 (4):457-497.
    In this paper, I critically assess the enactive account of visual perception recently defended by Alva Noë (2004). I argue inter alia that the enactive account falsely identifies an object’s apparent shape with its 2D perspectival shape; that it mistakenly assimilates visual shape perception and volumetric object recognition; and that it seriously misrepresents the constitutive role of bodily action in visual awareness. I argue further that noticing an object’s perspectival shape involves a hybrid experience combining both perceptual and imaginative elements (...)
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  37. Elliot Clayton Brown, Jan Roelf Wiersema, Gilles Pourtois & Martin Brüne (2013). Modulation of Motor Cortex Activity When Observing Rewarding and Punishing Actions. Neuropsychologia 51 (1):52-58.
    Interpreting others' actions is essential for understanding the intentions and goals in social interactions. Activity in the motor cortex is evoked when we see another person performing actions, which can also be influenced by the intentions and context of the observed action. No study has directly explored the influence of reward and punishment on motor cortex activity when observing others' actions, which is likely to have substantial relevance in different social contexts. In this experiment, EEG was recorded while participants watched (...)
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  38. Matthew J. Brown (2011). Science as Socially Distributed Cognition: Bridging Philosophy and Sociology of Science. In Karen François, Benedikt Löwe, Thomas Müller & Bart van Kerkhove (eds.), Foundations of the Formal Sciences VII, Studies in Logic. College Publications.
    I want to make plausible the following claim:Analyzing scientific inquiry as a species of socially distributed cognition has a variety of advantages for science studies, among them the prospects of bringing together philosophy and sociology of science. This is not a particularly novel claim, but one that faces major obstacles. I will retrace some of the major steps that have been made in the pursuit of a distributed cognition approach to science studies, paying special attention to the promise that such (...)
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  39. Warren S. Brown & Kevin S. Reimer (2013). Embodied Cognition, Character Formation, and Virtue. Zygon 48 (3):832-845.
    The theory of embodied cognition makes the claim that our cognitive processes are, at their core, sensorimotor, situated, and action-relevant. Our mental system is built primarily to control action, and so mind is formed by the nature of the body and its interactions with the world. In this paper we will explore the nature of virtue and its formation from the perspective of embodied cognition. We specifically describe exemplars of the virtue of compassion (caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities in (...)
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  40. Joseph A. Buckley & Lisa L. Hall (1999). Self-Knowledge and Embodiment. Southwest Philosophy Review 15 (1):185-196.
    Donald Davidson has posed the problem of first-person authority and provided his own solution to it. He has argued that no epistemic theory of first-person authority can resolve the problem, but that a theory that appeals to constraints on interpreting speech can. We argue that Davidson is wrong about epistemic theories and that his own theory of first-person authority is inadequate. We propose an alternative based on the epistemic constraints associated with embodiment and argue that recognition of these constraints undermines (...)
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  41. Paco Calvo & John Symons, Radical Embodiment and Morphological Computation: Against the Autonomy of (Some) Special Sciences.
    An asymmetry between the demands at the computational and algorithmic levels of description furnishes the illusion that the abstract profile at the computational level can be multiply realized, and that something is actually being shared at the algorithmic one. A disembodied rendering of the situation lays the stress upon the different ways in which an algorithm can be implemented. However, from an embodied approach, things look rather different. The relevant pairing, I shall argue, is not between implementation and algorithm, but (...)
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  42. Matteo Candidi, Salvatore Maria Aglioti & Patrick Haggard (2012). Embodying Bodies and Worlds. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (1):109-123.
    Sensorimotor representations are essential for building up and maintaining corporeal awareness, i.e. the ability to perceive, know and evaluate one's own body as well as the bodies of others. The notion of embodied cognition implies that abstract forms of conceptual knowledge may be ultimately instantiated in such sensorimotor representations. In this sense, conceptual thinking should evoke, via mental simulation, some underlying sensorimotor events. In this review we discuss studies on the relation between embodiment and corporeal awareness. We approach the question (...)
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  43. Antonella Carassa, Francesca Morganit & Giuseppe Riva (eds.) (2009). Enacting Intersubjectivity: Paving the Way for a Dialogue Between Cognitive Science, Social Cognition, and Neuroscience. Università della Svizzera Italiana.
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  44. Jaime F. Cárdenas-García (2013). Distributed Cognition: An Ectoderm-Centric Perspective. [REVIEW] Biosemiotics 6 (3):337-350.
    Distributed cognition is widely recognized as an approach to the study of all cognition. It identifies the distribution of cognitive processes between persons and technology, among people, and across time in the development of the social and material contexts for thinking. This paper suggests an ectoderm-centric perspective as the basis for distributed cognition, and in so doing redefines distributed cognition as the ability of an organism to interact with its environment for the purpose of satisfying its most basic physiological (internal (...)
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  45. J. Adam Carter, Emma C. Gordon & S. Orestis Palermos (forthcoming). Extended Emotion. Philosophical Psychology.
    Recent thinking within philosophy of mind about the ways cognition can extend (e.g. Clark 2011; Clark & Chalmers 1998; Wilson 2000, 2004; Menary 2006) has yet to be integrated with philosophical theories of emotion, which give cognition a central role. We carve out new ground at the intersection of these areas, and in doing so, defend what we call the extended emotion thesis: i.e., the claim that some emotions can extend beyond skin and skull to parts of the external world.
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  46. Quassim Cassam (2002). Representing Bodies. Ratio 15 (4):315-334.
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  47. Quassim Cassam (1995). Introspection and Bodily Self-Ascription. In Jose Luis Bermudez, Anthony J. Marcel & Naomi M. Eilan (eds.), The Body and the Self. Mit Press. 311--336.
  48. Sue L. Cataldi (1996). Emotion and Embodiment Fragile Ontology. International Studies in Philosophy 28 (4):124-126.
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  49. Dan Cavedon-Taylor (2011). Perceptual Content and Sensorimotor Expectations. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):383-391.
    I distinguish between two kinds of sensorimotor expectations: agent- and object-active ones. Alva Noë's answer to the problem of how perception acquires volumetric content illicitly privileges agent-active expectations over object-active expectations, though the two are explanatorily on a par. Considerations which Noë draws upon concerning how organisms may ‘off-load’ internal processes onto the environment do not support his view that volumetric content depends on our embodiment; rather, they support a view of experience which is restrictive of the body's role in (...)
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  50. Antonio Chella & Riccardo Manzotti (2007). Artificial Consciousness. Imprint Academic.
    And why is there a subjective component to experience?). It is easy to see that the separation between Weak and Strong Artificial Consciousness mirrors the separation between the easy problems and the hard problems of consciousness.
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