Embodied cognition seems intuitive, but philosophy can push it to some strange places

That our brains exist in the context of a body might seem obvious, but for many thinkers and researchers working at the intersection of neuroscience and philosophy, this notion has become increasingly vital to understanding the human mind. The body and, crucially, movement give the brain access to our physical environments so that we can navigate the outside world. In this way, the brain and the body are partnered – one is essential to the other, and each informs the other. This framing is central to what’s known as ‘embodied cognition’, a concept with intellectual roots dating back to the early 20th century. This radical and relatively recent approach to cognition emphasises the importance of the body and rejects the once-common view of the brain as the body’s sole director. In this interview with Serious Science, Karl Friston, a neuroscientist at University College London, explores the ‘different flavours’ – some common sense, others controversial – tethered together by the idea of embodied cognition, as well as their implications for the field of neurophilosophy, and beyond.

16 December 2021

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