Book discussion event on embodied cognition
Our discussions all, to some extent, relate to cognition. An important area of inquiry concerns whether some form of physical embodiment is required for a brain to support cognition in general and the self-aware sort of cognition we humans possess.
Philosophy In The Flesh: The Embodied Mind And Its Challenge To Western Thought, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Please note, while the title includes “Philosophy,” we are not a philosophy group and the book and discussion will revolve around scientific concepts and implications, not spiritualistic or metaphysical ideas.
– Amazon (used copies in the $6 range, including shipping)
– eBook (free PDF)
RSVP TO ATTEND
RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend our discussion on the afternoon of Saturday, November 3, 2018.
While our group enjoys socializing and will plan other events to that end, this meeting is for focused discussion among people who invest the time in advance to inform themselves on the topic. As a courtesy to those who will do their ‘homework,’ before the meeting please read and consider Part 1 (the first eight chapters) of the book. As you read, jot down your thoughts and questions on the book’s claims, supporting evidence, and implications for our core topics–brain, mind, and artificial intelligence. If you are not able to invest this effort prior to the meeting, please do not attend. Thank you for your understanding.
If you are a visual systematic learner, try creating a concept map of the book’s core concepts and ideas.
Please see related resource links in the comments to this post. Also, you can search this site’s other relevant posts using the category and tag, ’embodied cognition.’
The location will be in the vicinity of UNM on Central Ave. When you RSVP to email@example.com, you will be sent the address.
Also see this free e-book from Frontiers in Psychology on the topic. It was published in 2016 so has a lot of updated articles: https://albuquirky.net/2018/09/01/book-beyond-the-body-the-future-of-embodied-cognition/
A few other more recent articles:
“How linguistic metaphor scaffolds reasoning.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21:11, Nov. 2017, pp. 852 – 863. https://sci-hub.tw/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2017.07.001
“Is there really an evolved capacity for numbers?” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21(6), June 2017, pp. 409 – 424. https://sci-hub.tw/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2017.03.005
“Embodiment and language comprehension.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(5), May 2014, pp. 229 – 234. https://sci-hub.tw/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2014.02.008
Here’s another one: “Experiential basis of meaning in a semantic associative test: A move toward an embodied explanation of primary metaphor.” Psychology, 2017, 8, 1895- 1918. The abstract: The concept of meaning has undergone many changes in the course of scientific study of language, thought and behavior. At first, it was explained as something which happens in the mind and then is changed to a product of association of ideas. Today, however, new meaning of meaning has emerged with the emphasis on the experiential basis as has been formulated in the concept of metaphoric expression. In this paper we report… Read more »
And a more recent Lakoff paper provides not only the development of the neural theory of language since the book but experimental results: “Mapping the brain’s metaphor circuitry.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2014; 8: 958. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4267278/
“Cascades in metaphor and grammar.” Constructions and Frames, 8:2 (2016), 214–255. http://web.stanford.edu/~stickles/papers/stickles-cascades.pdf
In this article Lakoff responds to Pinker’s critical review of Lakoff’s book, Whose Freedom. The response also has a link to Pinker’s review.
The Metaphorical Brain, open access book by Frontiers in Neuroscience, January 2016. A blurb from the Editorial:
“Lakoff’s call for further research is taken up by a number of other contributors to the volume. These researchers present original research testing some of the predictions of embodied metaphor theory, and its more general counterpart in embodied cognition.”
From the International Computer Science Institute:
“The NTL (Neural Theory of Language) project of the AI Group works in collaboration with other units on the UC Berkeley campus and elsewhere. It combines basic research in several disciplines with applications to natural language understanding systems. Basic efforts include studies in the computational, linguistic, neurobiological, and cognitive bases for language and thought. This research continues to yield a variety of theoretical and practical findings. The NTL project is an interdisciplinary research effort to answer the question: How does the brain compute the mind?”
The following is a copy of the comments posted to the Meetup group as of Sept 5, 2018: Edward Note that parts 2, 3 and 4 of the book discuss western philosophy from a cognitive science perspective, showing how indeed they are metaphysical, even if not spiritualistic or supernatural, e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Descartes. Not required reading but if interested it’s worth the investment. 3 days ago Edward Also note that the pagination of the e-book is different than the paper book, so the end of Part 1 might be on a different page. 3 days ago Edward Some more recent… Read more »
By the way, I’ve heard tell that Lakoff and Narayanan have a new book in progress called Conceptual Science: The Embodiment of Thought and Language. Coming soon I hope.
Embodied cognition in a 4-minute nutshell.
If you’re enticed, here’s the entire 1.5 hour lecture.
In the 4-minute Lakoff video he summarizes how philosophy is changed by cognitive science. Particular philosophies get attached to a root metaphor (or blend) that entails certain premises and conclude that it is reality in toto without going further to understand that other metaphors entail different premises with equally logical conclusions. It’s a form of mistaking the map for the territory error. We use metaphors to model reality and then forget the model is based on a metaphor. Hence there are multiple equally valid realities conjured up with the different metaphorical inferences we start with. The embodied thesis helps us… Read more »
Here’s Mark Johnson giving a lecture on the topic (1:24:02): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaMeGdrKnEE
Lakoff: “The science and the social sciences all use causal theories, but the metaphors for causation can vary widely and thus so can the kinds of causal inferences you can draw. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. You just have to realize that causation is not just one thing. There are many kinds of modes of causation, each with different logical inferences, that physical, social, and cognitive scientists attribute to reality using different metaphors for causation. Again, it is important to know which metaphor for causation you are using. Science cannot be done without metaphors of all sorts, starting… Read more »
And here are some responses to Philosophy in the Flesh from The Reality Club with Lakoff’s response at the end: https://www.edge.org/discourse/lakoff.html
Also the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on embodied cognition is highly informative, with a substantial revision in 2015.
There is also the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry:
The SEP section on modularity responds to some of the criticisms/questions that evolutionary psychology poses.
The following is an excerpt of Mark Johnson’s 2014 book Morality for Humans: Ethical Understanding from the Perspective of Cognitive Science which can be found here. Here’s an excerpt on moral deliberation: “There is a temptation to regard reflective processes as merely after-the-fact storytelling meant mostly to explain and justify the intuitive processes that are doing the real work. […] I am going to argue that there is, nonetheless, a key role for a process of moral deliberation that is more than just intuitive, nonconscious judgment, and also more than mere after-the-fact justification by principles. It is a reflective process… Read more »
My email discussion with Mark Johnson, which he said I could share.
More from Johnson’s book on morality. In this excerpt he summarizes some of his main points of which a few relevant ones follow: “The sciences of mind have recently investigated two fundamental processes of moral cognition: (a) a mostly nonconscious, non-reflective, fast, and affect-based intuitive process of appraisal, and (b) a conscious, reflective, slow, after-the-fact justificatory form of reasoning that tends to be principle-based. In addition to these two processes, I have argued that there is a third process—imaginative moral deliberation—in which we imaginatively simulate (i.e., rehearse) possible courses of action, in order to determine which course best resolves at… Read more »
Fries figure predominantly in my philosophy too: https://integralpostmetaphysicalnonduality.blogspot.com/2018/10/seagull-philosophy.html
I also suggest at least reading the last chapter, a short summary of the book with some implications for an embodied philosophy. It’s only about a 10-15 minute read.
I was just re-reading some of Lakoff & Nunez, Where Mathematics Comes From. Even in math there is no one correct or universal math. There are equally valid but mutually inconsistent maths depending on one’s premised axioms (354-55). This is because math is also founded on embodied, basic categories and metaphors, from which particular axioms are unconsciously based (and biased), and can go in a multitude of valid inferential directions depending on which metaphor (or blend) is used in a particular contextual preference. Hence they dispel the myth of a transcendent, Platonic math while validating a plurality of useful and… Read more »
Thanks for the follow-up. It was a rich conversation yesterday. I look forward to pulling some of those threads. I recall a couple of other sources questioning not only the notion of a fundamental, independent, systematic mathematics but asking whether there are fundamental (structural) limits to what any mind can know. An early entry was Russell’s and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica (of which I’ve only read some commentary), which assumed a complete (all inclusive), systematic, and purely logical mathematics was possible, yet they also explored the possibility this proposition would run against insurmountable limits to knowledge. Kurt Gödel’s readings of Principia… Read more »
And here‘s a more recent technical paper by Feldman et. al. from the Berkeley ICSI group called “A Neural Theory of Language and Embodied Construction Grammar.”
BTW, on can find a copy of Tegmark’s book Life 3.0 here. Maybe the next book discussion?