Phenomenology and Embodied Cognition

Authored by: Shaun Gallagher

The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415623612
eBook ISBN: 9781315775845
Adobe ISBN: 9781317688662


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As this volume makes clear, research on embodied cognition draws from a number of disciplines and is supported by a variety of methodological strategies. In this chapter I focus on what phenomenology has contributed to our understanding of embodied cognition. I take “phenomenology” to mean the philosophical tradition initiated in the twentieth century by Edmund Husserl and developed by a variety of philosophers, including Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, Aron Gurwitsch, and numerous others. More recently phenomenologists following this tradition have been drawn into theoretical and empirical research in the cognitive sciences, and especially into discussions of enactive and embodied conceptions of the mind (e.g. Dreyfus, 1973, 2002; Gallagher, 2005; Gallagher and Zahavi, 2012; Thompson, 2007; Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1991). I’ll start by looking at some of the historical resources that define the phenomenology of the body. I’ll then consider how phenomenology, as a methodology, relates to scientific investigations of embodied cognition, and finally go on to identify some of the insights about embodied cognition that phenomenology provides.

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