This is ongoing attempt to list the best books and articles related to embodiment. Please send any suggestions to the site manager, Adrian Harris.
The Research on Place and Space site has a general bibliography and links to more specialist bibliographies. Pamela Richardson prepared a useful reading list for a recent reading/seminar group on embodied geographies at the University of Oxford.Perspectives on Embodiment: The Intersections of Nature and Culture
Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied
Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Harper Collins Publishers, 1999.
Building on recent cognitive science, this book refutes the commonly held idea that reason is independent of the body. In fact our physical experience of the world - our spatial awareness, our bodily movement, and the way we manipulate objects - provide the pattern for how we reason about the world.
The Bounds of Cognition
Frederick Adams and Kenneth Aizawa. Blackwell, 2008.
There are two broad theories of the role of the body in cognition. On the more conservative view, the body makes a causal contribution to cognition. On the more radical view, bodily (and indeed environmental) processes are sometimes literally cognitive processes. The body in part constitutes the cognitive. The Bounds of Cognition challenges the arguments some philosophers have given in support of the more radical view. In doing so, Bounds sets out a research program for the radical embodiment of cognition.
Shaun Gallagher has a selection of papers online.
Andy Clark has a large number of papers available online
Tony Chemero - a philosopher of cognitive science - has numerous papers available including:
Situated, embodied realism, in Jose Burgos and Emilio Ribes (eds.), Knowledge, Cognition and Behavior, forthcoming (2007).
Asking What’s Inside the Head: Neurophilosophy meets the extended mind, Minds and Machines, forthcoming (2006)
An Outline of a Theory of Affordances, Ecological Psychology, 15, 2, 181-195, 2003
A book site in progress
There are two projects interwoven here. The first is a revision of dualist remnants in the ways we talk about mental function, and an effort to see how we could understand perceiving, imagining and representing if we think of them as embodied. The second is a description of the recent neuroscience of spatial function.
The two projects are related in this way: the central notion in any philosophy of mind has to be an account of aboutness or intentionality. This notion has traditionally been thought by analogy with our use of representational artifacts such as sentences or pictures. When we allow ourselves to be impressed by the particulars of spatial function, it is evident that talk of inner representations has delayed the transition between dualist/theist beliefs about knowing and a new biological understanding of its means. I argue instead that whole bodies are oriented and structurally responsive to their environments, and that whole persons, and not isolated internal parts of persons, refer and are about things in those environments.
A number of shifts in our present understanding of material systems together support an alternative understanding of aboutness as relational structure. A sequenced redescription that follows from two emphases, on cognition as spatially engaged, and on neural response as complex integration, begins with acting and perceiving seen as interdependent aspects of evolved competency in the world. Both occur by means of structural changes in many parts of an organism.
The various forms of simulational cognition - imagining, planning, remembering - also occur by structural changes, but these changes are less closely coupled to immediately present environments. Representing, by which I mean our public use of representing artifacts and events, occurs by structural changes that are usually a combination of perception/action and simulation. Thinking often requires representational support; like representing, it is understood as necessarily grounded in a prior aboutness of evolved, located bodies able to perceive, act and simulate.
I illustrate the principles outlined above by describing remnants of spatial engagement found in four high-cultural forms of representation-guided cognition - signed and spoken language, electroacoustic music, pictorial perspective, and mathematics. I conclude with a brief consideration of implications of this redescription.
& Society Journal
Concerned with debates in feminism, technology, ecology, postmodernism, medicine, ethics and consumerism which take the body as the central analytic issue in the questioning of established paradigms.
Body in Space: Embodiment, Experientialism and Linguistic Conceptualization
In Body, Language and Mind, vol. 2. Zlatev, Jordan; Ziemke, Tom; Frank, Roz; Dirven, René (eds.). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, forthcoming 2006.
Foucault and Bourdieu present a telling analysis of the process of social control though embodiment. This control is never complete, and several thinkers (including Foucault) have explored models of resistance.
Eco-Paganism is a strand of Neo-Paganism, the fastest growing of the New Religious Movements. Eco-Pagans partly express their spirituality through environmental activism and rituals of resistance.
I propose that Eco-Pagan practice is way of constructing 'discourses of resistance' through embodiment. I explore this notion by drawing on ritual theory, Bakhtin's Carnivalesque and recent theories of embodiment. I conclude that Eco-Paganism can construct 'bodies' which resist incorporation into mainstream ideology.
Signs of Life in the Self
Richard L. Lanigan
A Paper Presented at the Symposium on "Musement to Meaning: Body and Mind" at the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the SEMIOTIC SOCIETY OF AMERICA. San Antonio, Texas, USA. 20 October 1995.
Andy Clark and David Chalmers.
Published in Analysis 58:10-23, 1998. Reprinted in (P. Grim, ed) The Philosopher's Annual, vol XXI, 1998.
"Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? The question invites two standard replies. Some accept the demarcations of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. Others are impressed by arguments suggesting that the meaning of our words "just ain't in the head", and hold that this externalism about meaning carries over into an externalism about mind. We propose to pursue a third position. We advocate a very different sort of externalism: an active externalism, based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes".
Andy Clark has many more papers available online.
Phenomenology and Embodiment
"As one might expect, feminist scholars have found much to disagree with in Merleau-Ponty's and other phenomenologists' accounts of embodied existence, finding them patriarchal in their universalisation of forms of male embodiedness."
Mutual Interests, Different Lenses; Current Neuroscience
and Symbolic Interaction
David D. Franks, Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 26, No 4 pages
613-630, 2003. (Not online).
Discusses convergences of findings from different fields on how the body constructs reality for humans and how manipulative action (vis a vi Lakoff and Johnson) is primary to thought etc. Concludes with a warning that the important thing about ideas is not simply in their substance, but the salience or importance they have for us through the way they are embodied (via Somatic Markers). For Franks this has great importance for social control and a general theory of mentality.
the relation between recent neurobiological data on perception (and action)
and the Husserlian theory of constitution
Jean-Luc Petit, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
2 (4): 281-298, 2003, Kluwer Academic Publishers
The phenomenological theory of constitution promises a solution for “the problem of consciousness” insofar as it changes the traditional terms of this problem by systematically correlating “subject and ” “object” in the unifying context of intentional acts. I argue that embodied constitution must depend upon the role of kinesthesia as a constitutive operator. In pursuing the path of intentionality in its descent from an idealistic level of “pure” constitution to this fully embodied kinesthetic constitution, we are able to gain access to different ontological regions such as physical thing, owned body and shared world. Neuroscience brings to light the somatological correlates of noemata. Bridging the gap between incarnation and naturalisation represents the best way of realizing the foundational program of transcendental phenomenology.
and the Cognitive Sciences Journal
Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences is an interdisciplinary, international journal that serves as a forum to explore the intersections between phenomenology, empirical science, and analytic philosophy of mind.
proprioceptive observations of 'being-with'
Olu Taiwo & John Wood
A paper given at the Problem of Action and Observation Conference Amsterdam, April 1997
Current Relevance of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Embodiment
Hubert L. Dreyfus
Defends, explains, and draws out implications of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception statement the "the life of consciousness is subtended by an 'intentional arc' which projects round about us our past our future, our human setting, our physical, ideological, and moral situation."
Are Live Creatures: Embodiment, American Pragmatism, and the Cognitive Organism
Mark Johnson and Tim Rohrer.
2007. In Body, Language, and Mind, vol. 1. Zlatev, Jordan; Ziemke, Tom; Frank, Roz; Dirven, René (eds.). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Let’s start from scratch in thinking about what memory is for, and consequently, how it works. Suppose that memory and conceptualization work in the service of perception and action. In this case, conceptualization is the encoding of patterns of possible physical interaction with a three-dimensional world. These patterns are constrained by the structure of the environment, the structure of our bodies, and memory. Thus, how we perceive and conceive of the environment is determined by the types of bodies we have. Such a memory would not have associations. Instead, how concepts become related (and what it means to be related) is determined by how separate patterns of actions can be combined given the constraints of our bodies. I call this combination “mesh.” To avoid hallucination, conceptualization would normally be driven by the environment, and patterns of action from memory would play a supporting, but automatic, role. A significant human skill is learning to suppress the overriding contribution of the environment to conceptualization, thereby allowing memory to guide conceptualization. The effort used in suppressing input from the environment pays off by allowing prediction, recollective memory, and language comprehension. I review theoretical work in cognitive science and empirical work in memory and language comprehension that suggest that it may be possible to investigate connections between topics as disparate as infantile amnesia and mental-model theory.
McGuire, Meredith B., 2003. 'Why Bodies Matter: A Sociological Reflection on Spirituality and Materiality'. Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, 3.1 (2003) 1-18. Johns Hopkins University Press.