Thinking with the Body: Towards Hierarchical, Scalable Cognition

Ricardo Sanz, Jaime Gómez Rivas, Carlos Hernández, Idoia Alarcón

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The reflection on the nature of mind has a long history. In western tradition, this reflection has mostly taken place along the so-called dualist approach, where mind and body completely have different characteristics and even natures. In this dualistic context for understanding thought (and life!), the biggest problem has always been how these two realms-the physical and the mental-could possibly interact: the mind-body problem is the unavoidable sequel to this dualist standpoint. The embodied cognition movement tries to reconcile this apparently multiple qualities (. duality and unity) of human experience by means of analyzing the ways in which the body may affect cognition: supporting, sustaining, shaping, etc. Mind and body cannot be separated because cognitive agents think with the body. Mind, as a separate entity, is in the eye of the beholder. This chapter contends that the mind-body problem is not a problem of minds and bodies in the world-that is, a physical problem of interaction-but simply an artificial, conceptual problem for philosophers/scientists. The way to come out of the problem is to realize that minds and bodies are not separate entities, but what are separate are the mental concepts used in thinking about them; that is, what most thinkers use to think about minds and bodies as ontologically fully separate entities. However this way of thinking is misleading. Minds can be reduced to bodies because they are simply processes that run on them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Cognitive Science
EditorsP. Calvo, A. Gomila
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780080466163
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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    Sanz, R., Gómez Rivas, J., Hernández, C., & Alarcón, I. (2008). Thinking with the Body: Towards Hierarchical, Scalable Cognition. In P. Calvo, & A. Gomila (Eds.), Handbook of Cognitive Science (pp. 395-421). Elsevier.