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Embodiment and Cognitive Science

3.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521811743
ISBN-10: 0521811740
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Editorial Reviews


"As a neuroscientist, I found this book to be thorough and extremely helpful"
Contemporary Psychology: APA REview of Books

Book Description

This book describes the many ways that the mind and body are closely interrelated, and how human thought and language are fundamentally linked to bodily action. The embodied nature of mind is explored through many topics, such as perception, thinking, language use, development, emotions, and consciousness. People's embodied experiences are critical to the ways they think and speak and most generally, understand themselves, other people, and the world around them. This work provides a strong defense of the idea that embodied action is critical to the study of human cognition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521811740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521811743
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,735,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book definitively establishes the fact that not only is the mind "in" the body, the mind is the body. We think with our whole nervous system. Proprioception, peripheral nerves, bodily motions, all are major parts of cognition and experience. Not only do we think with our bodies, we can't think without them. Our thought is our action in the world.

Gibbs' superb uniting of neurology, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and common sense simply buries Descartes (of mind-body dichotomy fame) under mountains of data and theoretically sophisticated interpretation. No one will ever again be able to argue that the mind is an abstract, disembodied entity trapped in flesh. This book is in the great tradition of Tolman, Hebb, and Merleau-Ponty, and should be transformational to anyone who hasn't already gotten the message. Even for me (a veteran reader in this field and lifelong non-Cartesian) the book was transformative. I learned a startling amount about everything from brain cells to babies (the latter are far more aware of their relationship with the world and its objects and trajectories than I thought). Already familiar with George Lakoff's work, I learned rather less about metaphor (discussed rather too repetitiously), but even here Gibbs has much to say, including a convincing interpretation of the bizarre sense of self captured in such phrases as "I'm not myself today" and "I'm so busy I'm beside myself."

I notice a tendency in American culture for women to see their bodies as something outside of their "selves," and even neuter in sex, as when a friend of mine who had cancer (mercifully cured) said "I felt my body had let me down, and I was sort of mad at it." I could never think of my body as neuter, or as an opponent. Neither, I think, could most men.
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Format: Hardcover
In Embodiment and Cognitive Science, Gibbs (2005) repeatedly drives home the point that cognition is an embodied experience and as such should never be considered as separate from the body. Although the emphasis throughout is on the importance of embodiment, or the understanding of the role of one's body within "everyday, situated cognition" (p. 1), Gibbs does not suggest that this explanation provides "the single foundation for all thought and language" (p. 3), but argues that it is an integral part of how we perceive and interact with the world around us. He avidly critiques the field of cognitive science as often neglecting this integral part and takes the time to explicitly point out examples and rigorous scientific studies that coincide with his position, particularly related to human beings' perception and action, conceptualization of the world around them, the formation and interpretation of imagery, memory, and reasoning, language and communication, cognitive development, and emotional and cognitive states and interactions. Overall, as a doctoral clinical psychology student, I found the book to be extremely informative and thought provoking though it was a bit repetitious and wordy. I will briefly comment on the most helpful aspects of the book, as well as further articulate my criticism of the book.

In general, I feel like Gibbs does an excellent job breaking down the dichotomous split, technically referred to as dualism, that considers the mind and body to be separate and has been asserted for many centuries now. From a budding psychotherapist's perspective not only does he refute this philosophical notion but also lends greater credibility to a more holistic view of the human person.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the book, the author, Gibbs, attempts to provide a survey of the wide range of theoretical and clinical/experimental data that he believes supports the embodied view of cognition. The embodied view of cognition essentially argues that all aspects of cognition (for example our thoughts and ideas) are actually formed by aspects of our bodies. These bodily aspects would include our perceptual system, our activity and our interaction with our environment, as well as language and communication. In Gibbs' approach towards embodiment, a person's conscious experience of their physical activities plays an essential role in structuring their cognitive processing. Gibbs' overall approach to the subject is extensive. For those interested in the subject such as advanced students and professional clinicians and academics this book would be a valuable resource to add to one's library. Even to those whose main focus is already in the embodied view of cognition, Gibbs' provides enough broad material so that the text would probably provide enough information outside of their own specialized areas for the book to be of interest to even this group.

While I do believe Gibbs' succeeds in presenting an impressive survey of the field, his text is not without its shortcomings. The purpose of the text is not just to gather a bunch of current research and present it to the reader, nor is it to just motivate future research, instead Gibbs takes the current thought and adds to it his own extended argument in support of the embodied view. Gibbs seeks to place the embodied view in a place of prominence in cognitive science (p. 276), and appears to argue that any disembodied view (think Cartesian Dualism; Descartes view) should not even be considered unless an embodied view has first been proven false.
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