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In this paper, I intend to argue that cognitive processes are profoundly entwined with body interactions in the world. This stance includes a number of claims, some of which are thought to be more contentious than others. Margaret Wilson is a well-known author who attempted to explain the concept of embodiment totally from her point of view. Some of her claims were dubious. They have, however, been well documented since they substantially describe the concept of embodiment. In this essay, I plan to actively apply one of Margaret's theories to fully investigate my point of view (Walkerdine, 2002). The concept and constructs of embodiment together with embodied cognition have emerged as points of interest and are debated continuously in the field of psychology and cognitive science. Among the reasons for the emergence of this discussion are the various studies which explain that making decisions and cognitive processing are potentially affected by body states. According to Margaret Wilson, this is just but one aspect of an embodiment. Foundationally, an embodiment is only a rejection of both the isolated and computational mind of cognitivism. When the brain of an active organism constitutively finds a locality, embodiment arises as a threat to traditional, and we'll know differences between the ideas of cognition, action, and perception which are primarily fundamental when it comes to the cognitivist account. The concept of an embodiment has very deep routes (Cosmelli, 2013). However, it just gained momentum a couple of years ago.
Embodied cognition is a trending topic in cognitive science. There is, however, a lot of confusion as people have no idea it's precise meaning and the manner in which it can be studied. Many researchers have been headlined giving a myriad of examples to explain embodiment, but if one keenly explores the explanations, they appear more business-like with just a few couple of bells and whistles. In simple terms, embodied cognition is a claim that the brain, is not the only part available that controls human behavior. This concept is a quite fascinating insight which is perfectly exemplified by the art of communication (STOCKER, 2001). The level of goodness in a particularly personal, conversational method highly relies on the environment they are born into, where they have lived most of the circumstances they are facing at a particular time. If interested in making a change in the manner in which a person speaks, there is no need to change anything about them; just placing them in a different environment exerts turn on them. Moreover, if an embodiment is carried out right, it gives one a method to converse rigorously on various discussions as different events unfold among two or more people (Walkerdine, 2002).
With the available empirical foundations, many researchers are more interested in the mechanistic implementations. The debate arises different positions with one stating that conceptual representations which are comprised in our fundamental knowledge and are deeply rooted in the nerve experiences both motor and sensory which are processed at the sensorimotor level instead of being represented or abstractly processed in any conceptual system. Critics alternatively feel that the embodied system is highly abstract (Cosmelli, 2013).
In this essay, I choose to expand my position by exploring Margaret Wilson’s claim that cognition is situated. Some writers state that the phrase located perception also suggests the existence of another type of cognition that is not situated. Therefore, I intend to extensively expound on the latter in a bid to expel any misleading assumptions that may come up (Porr & Wörgötter, 2005).
In simple terms, situated cognition is one that occurs in an environment of highly essential inputs and outputs depending on the task at hand. In the process of cognitive activity, perceptual data which influences the activity continually come out and the motor activity which necessarily affects the environment with the said task is executed. Excellent illustrations of situated cognition driving while conversing or walking around in a room while devising a style in which the furniture in the room will be arranged. However, even with this definition, it is quite evident that various aspects of human cognition have been entirely excluded (Walkerdine, 2002).
All cognitive actions which occur offline without the necessary task inputs and outputs are said to be not situated. Some instances of such situations include daydreaming or making fantasy plans in circumstances which are not directly related to the content of your ideas. This point of view is not necessarily new but it ought to be emphasized (Cosmelli, 2013). Definitively, situated cognition entails an intense interaction with all aspects that constitute cognitive activity. However, among the hallmarks of human perception is the fact that it is possible for it to take place in circumstances where it is wholly decoupled from all kinds of direct interactions with the environment.
As per Margaret Wilson, there is a huge possibility to plan the future while relating to or considering the events of the past. We are allowed to use them to fathom what could have been had if the situation was different. It is possible to imagine circumstances that we have never been involved in from information garnered from others. The fact that we can form mental pictures of different events that may be remote in time and space is not a product of situated cognition (Porr & Wörgötter, 2005).
A debate may arise situated cognition is nonetheless the fundamental basis of human perception because of our evolutionary history. It is common to attempt our instincts on situated cognition by calling onto the image of our ancestors while entirely depending on our situated skills. According to some critics, before our civilization, the ability of our mental capabilities relied on the probability of allowing us to respond to a myriad of immediate situations including getting food or avoiding predators (Walkerdine, 2002). Therefore, situated cognition represents our basic cognitive architecture though it may not be demonstrated in the modern day to day artificial activities.
The view of ancient beings greatly exaggerated the survival mechanism needed to hack that kind of life. Meat eating was a behavior that was a late addition in the human repertoire, and even though hunting was adopted, the primary calories in the human diet were obtained from gathering wild fruits among other edible plants in the wild. The evidence of this assumption is depicted in the fossil records and from the food of our near relatives the baboons and chimpanzees. It is, therefore, necessary to factor in gathering in the event of constructing the image of our cognitive past. Success depends and benefits highly on human memory which more often than not is reflexive. Though, in acting itself, the situated cognitive skills utilized are unclear. Inspiration of chasing food and escape from a predator provides a significant shaping force in the depicted image of the human who is recognized as a situated cognizer (Cosmelli, 2013).
While staying off the predator's territory is the basic instinct for survival, the situated skills encompassing fight and flight are quite ancient and are similar to those used by other species. It is not clear, however, to explain that extent of mileage that can be utilized in expounding on human intelligence in the said terms. Nonetheless, the cognitive abilities to avoid predators must have been of a different kind.
With the massive increase in the level of sophistication, early human beings countering predation began involving a high degree of offline preventative measures (Cosmelli, 2013).
Lastly, it is essential to consider the mental activities and abilities that encompassed the human characteristics and set them apart from other existing hominid species. Some of the human activities include manufacturing sophisticated hunting tools particularly those that matched the mental template, language for ease of communication and graphic art. All these aspects portray the offline activities described by humans. To only focus on situated cognition as the basic idea of our cognitive architecture is to ignore the fundamental features that define human perception.
Some counter-arguments have been presented to us in literature. For instance, Bars Alou claims that humans only utilized language for situated indexes which were rather immediate. The established language intended to influence how others behaved during specific activities. Some of his examples are offline (Porr & Wörgötter, 2005).
Some of the incidents that Bars Alou gives illustrates language as situated cognitive to be more offline about distant time and space for instance when giving a descriptive account of events that someone has never been a part of. It is possible to come up with other situated uses of language that would help the human race in adapting to different circumstances. Absorbing parental edicts on ways to avoid risky behavior, retaining in mind the items to buy when manufacturing a tool, deciding on whether to perform an act including going to the movies to have fun or staying at home, understanding information about individuals of a specific social class. From this example, it is clear that language has always served for offline purposes in among humans. It is, however, not clear why the full potential of the misrepresentation aspect of speech is not utilized (Walkerdine, 2002).
Other critics who have discussed the issue of cognitive processes include Brooks who suggested that due to the late emergence of none situated cognitive abilities, there were no innovations during a specified period of evolution. After their appearance, natural evolutionary aspects rise more and more every day, and this situation is known as convergent evolution. In simple terms, the centrality of situated cognition according to the constant needs of the human beings is rarely persuasive. Moreover, if we overstate the limits of established perception, we may potentially alter how we understand aspects which are cognitive (Cosmelli, 2013).
Various experiments have been performed to adequately add more weight to my opinion. An analysis by Matlock explains the idea that cognitive activities are as a result of the biological interaction. Additionally, he explains that the manner in which humans view motion in space affects how they comprehend certain fictive motion sentences. Despite the fact that this expression does not show explicit move, people understand them regarding imaginary movements. In an experiment, participants are asked to read tales of people travelling through the spatial areas and then make decisions on if a particular fictive movement has any connection to the story (STOCKER, 2001). In different experiments, the reading times were different with the pace being faster in cases where statements entailed tales detailing short distances, swift motions, and uncluttered terrains. The subjects gave more quickly positive feedback when presented with more straightforward and faster verbs such as ''the road runs along the coast'' instead of '' the road meandered along the coast". In general, this study showed that embodied simulation holds Hugh importance in processing fictive motion.
Therefore, humans give the meaning of specific concepts by reconstructing a mental picture if movement implicit in the statement (Cosmelli, 2013). This factor is a clear demonstration of body interaction before a cognitive process. A point to note is the fact people are not aware of these simulations thus the fictive motion is independent of thought. Furthermore, these psycholinguistic studies have also claimed that language is also a core in the imagination of embodied action (STOCKER, 2001).
There have been critics who are against this idea. One of them is Steve Pinker, a well-known critic of an embodiment, claimed that mental pictures of abstract concepts were just but duplicates of genetic circuits for ideas formed as a result of experience but consequently disconnected from the basis of the experience. Pinker's hypothesizes that the mental images or representations have no connection of sensory motors has long been objected with experiments portraying that subjects listening to recorded sentences depict that brain activities determine the action to be taken even with the doing word in nonliteral context (Cosmelli, 2013). Disapproval of Steve Pinker's claim is just an example giving more strength to my position.
Standard cognitive science is well known under two assumptions that make it pretty hard to create any actual solutions. This concept is considered a poverty stimulus and a subsequent requirement for the internal enrichment of perception (STOCKER, 2001). Cognitive processes have a role to do what is reflected from the hypothesized desire to entail perceptual information.
Cognitive processes not only result from body interaction but also from the environment. Margaret has examined this aspect. It is evident from her work that our overall behavior emerges from the task at hand. Other critics have come up with experiments that differ from my point of view. However, most of their claims have been Disqualified as they are circumstantial.
Therefore, an embodiment is at the center of an organism reacts to a task rather than at the peripheral. This impossibility that my hypothesis deserves to be named embodied cognition.
Instead of viewing the idea of embodiment in one perspective, it is good to look at the merits that are present in the different viewpoints and put them into account. One of the advantages of adopting this idea is that it allows a person to differentiate between offline and online cognitive processes (Cosmelli, 2013). The latter describing that are primarily in the hem of task-relevant external circumstances. In this situation, the mind serves the body in matters of the real world.
Cosmelli, D. (2013). Embodiment. Fayetteville, Ark.: University of Arkansas Press.
Porr, B., & Wörgötter, F. (2005). Inside embodiment – what means embodiment to radical constructivists?. Kybernetes, 34(1/2), 105-117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03684920510575762
STOCKER, S. (2001). Problems of Embodiment and Problematic Embodiment. Hypatia, 16(3), 30-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1527-2001.2001.tb00923.x
Walkerdine, V. (2002). Embodiment. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
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