Embodied Embedded Cognition
(not to be confused with Embodied Learning)
FocusThe bio-psycho-socio-cultural roots of meaning
- Knowledge is … scope of possible actions and interpretations
- Knowing is … appropriate functioning
- Learner is … a bodied agent (cultural situated)
- Learning is … selecting, blending, and refining possibilities
- Teaching is … designing experiences (orienting, juxtaposing)
SynopsisEmbodied Cognition sits across Embodiment Discourses and Embeddedness Discourses in the assertion that humans are doubly embodied. That is, human cognition simultaneously depends on having a biological body and being part of a socio-cultural corpus. These two nested bodies are intimately intertwined: one’s physical body defines possible movements and ranges of perception; the grander context in which one is embedded defines appropriate actions and the scopes of interpretive possibilities. In this frame, then, one’s learning starts with ranges of bodily motions and perceptions. One’s context selects useful/appropriate actions and noticings, while offering means to extend and blend them into higher-order concepts (e.g., through strategies such as Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Conceptual Blending Theory). Associated discourses include:
- Haptic Cognition (Haptic Perception) – Derived from the Greek haptikos “able to come in contact with,” Haptic Cognition foregrounds the active body in learning. The term is employed in different ways, with meanings ranging from the opposite of Passive Learning (see Active Learning) to a synonym for Embodied Cognition.
- Proto-Learning and Deutero-Learning (Learning I and Learning II) (Gregory Bateson, 1940s) – Proto-Learning refers to deliberate and/or explicit learning, and Deutero-Learning refers to the inevitable-and-substantial non-deliberate and/or implicit learnings that occur at the same time.
- Comprehensive Learning (Everyday Learning) (various, 2000s) – a term that is subject to many, often-conflicting interpretations, but that is increasingly used to signal the simultaneity of cognitive, affective, physical, and social dimensions of every moment of learning
CommentaryFor the most part, criticisms of Embodied Cognition are rooted in diverse interpretations of the words “body” and “embodied,” both of which are encountered across the entire spectrum of theories of learning. Unless those words are understood in terms of nested, complex systems, Embodied Cognition is likely to be misunderstood. Concisely, criticisms of Embodied Cognition typically come from commentators who don’t understand the theory.
Authors and/or Prominent InfluencesFrancisco Varela; Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Status as a Theory of LearningEmbodied Cognition is a theory of learning.
Status as a Theory of TeachingEmbodied Cognition is not a theory of teaching.
Status as a Scientific TheoryEmbodied Cognition is profoundly attentive to its grounding assumptions and supported by robust and diversified bodies of evidence.
- Comprehensive Learning (Everyday Learning)
- Haptic Cognition (Haptic Perception)
- Proto-Learning and Deutero-Learning (Learning I and Learning II)
Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Embodied Cognition” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.
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