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Thread: Human Cognition is an Embodied Activity

  1. #1 Human Cognition is an Embodied Activity 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    Human Cognition is an Embodied Activity

    We have all grown up to consider thought to be primarily a matter of language and propositions. We have not generally been taught this notion explicitly but have acquired it through social osmosis (picked it up without conscious effort because it is a notion that permeates our culture, i.e. it is a traditional notion). “…there is thought without language; this is possible because thought originates in our sense of spatial and kinesthetic orientation in the world.”

    Common sense or, as cognitive science labels it, folk theory informs us that “all things are a kind of thing”. All things have in common with other things certain characteristics; i.e. all things belong in categories with other like things. Things are categorized together based upon what they have in common. It might be worth while to think of category as being a container.

    In classical or conventional terms we categorize things in accordance with what are regarded as being that which is essential to that kind of thing. All things that are essentially the same fall into the same category. What is essential to a tree is that which is necessary and sufficient for that thing to be classified as a tree. To categorize a thing, i.e. define a thing, is to give its essential characteristics.

    In some way or another all creatures must categorize. At a minimum all creatures must distinguish friend from foe or eat and not eat. Categorization is part of the fundamental needs for survival of the creature. If the mouse mistakes a snake for a stick that mouse becomes toast; the same categorization problem applies to the lion and to the man.

    Categorization is meaningful. Meaning is not a thing; something is meaningful for a creature only when there is an association between that thing and the creature. “Meaningfulness derives from the experience of functioning as a being of a certain sort in an environment of a certain sort.” It is meaningful to a soldier when s/he mistakenly categorizes a tank to be only a harmless bush or an enemy to be a friend.

    There is nothing more meaningful for a creatures’ survival than correct categorization of the world in which that creature lives.

    Most all of us have heard the story of a group of blind men who were taken to touch an elephant to learn what elephants were like. Each of the blind men touched only one part of the elephant and then later, when comparing notes of what they felt, learned that they were all in complete disagreement as to what an elephant is. This story is useful for demonstrating how “reality” may be viewed based upon one’s perspective. That which often appears to be so obviously “true” may be just a matter of point of view.

    Imagine now how the blind man, who had touched the leg of the elephant and “categorized” it as like a tree or the one who had touched the tail of the elephant and “categorized” it as like a rope, might change their “categorization” had they been given a ride sitting on top of the elephants back.

    Scientists in the field of cognitive science inform us that categorization is neither consistently very abstract nor consistently very concrete. “It is rather consistently functional.” The first level of categorization is “followed by an endless process of further categorization which moves in both the abstract and the concrete direction.”

    These scientists inform us that they have “found that there is a level of categorization that is psychologically basic in the sense that: (1) categories at his level are learned earliest and named first; (2) category names at this level are the shortest and most frequently used in the language (e.g. “dog”, “cat”, “ball”, “chair”, “car”, “dime”,); (3) things at this level are remembered more readily and identified more quickly; (4) items at this level are perceived holistically, as a singular gestalt, rather than identified by a specific, distinctive features; and (5) there tend to be distinctive motor programs for interacting with objects at this level.”

    Human cognition is an embodied activity!


    Quotes from A Clearing in the Forest: Law, Life, and Mind by Steven L. Winter director of the Center for Legal Studies at Wayne State University Law School


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  3. #2 Re: Human Cognition is an Embodied Activity 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    We have all grown up to consider thought to be primarily a matter of language and propositions.
    I haven't.

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Human cognition is an embodied activity![/b]
    You have not defined what you mean by 'an embodied activity'.

    You have not demonstrated in any of the foregoing that thought is an embodied activity.

    There appears to be an almost total disconnect between your title/closing statement and the rest of the piece.

    (However, ten out of ten for consistency.)


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  4. #3  
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    These are complex and revolutionary concepts and they require careful study and thought.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    These are complex and revolutionary concepts and they require careful study and thought.
    You've lost me.
    What is revolutionary about categories? I think the Greeks had some thoughts in this area. would you pinpoint please what is revolutionary about the points you have made.
    Would you also be good enough to define 'an embodied activity', or rather would you confirm that by this you mean that thought (and the mind) is an integral part of the brain/body pairing. If that is what you mean then that is hardly revolutionary. Please clarify your thinking here.

    Might I also note that since you have, apparently, devoted time and thought to studying these matters that it would be reasonable to share your findings with others especially when they ask questions rather than rudely and patronislingly dismissing those questions.

    You have previously criticised me for being rude to you. It is very difficutl to avoid such behaviour when you are consistently and persistently rude to your audience. I continue to try to have a dialogue with you. It takes two to tango - please get on the ****ing dance floor.
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  6. #5  
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    With her dying breath my dear mother whispered into my ear "Son never respond to a heckler".
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  7. #6  
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    I am only heckling you because you consistently fail to respond to reasonable questions raised and points made. The questions I have posted in this thread are valid ones. The observations I have posted are valid ones. Ignore the snide comments I have made - they are borne out of a frustration and tempestuous anger at your self righteous arrogance.

    The questions are valid. Answer them.
    The points are valid. Address them.

    Stop running away like a coward because people choose to question your beliefs. It is unseemly behaviour in an adult and unconvincing in one who would change the way the world acts.
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