- Embodied Embedded Cognition
Embodied Embedded Cognition (EEC) is a philosophical theoretical position in
cognitive science, closely related to situated cognition, embodied cognition, embodied cognitive scienceand dynamical systems theory. The theory states that intelligent behaviouremerges out of the interplay between brain, body and world. The world is not just the 'play-ground' on which the brain is acting. Rather, brain, body and world are equally important factors in the explanation of how particular intelligent behaviours come about in practice.
Embodiment and Embeddedness
EEC is divided into two aspects:
embodimentand embeddedness (or situatedness).
Embodiment" refers to the idea that the bodies' internal milieu (a.o. homeostaticand hormonal states) heavily influences the higher 'cognitive' processes in the brain, presumably via the emotional system (see e.g. Antonio Damasio's theory of somatic markers). To put it simply: the state of your body is a direct factor of importance on the kinds of cognitive processes that may arise in the higher parts of your brain.
"Embeddedness" refers to the idea that physical interaction between the body and the world strongly constrain the possible behaviours of the organism, which in turn influences (indeed, partly constitutes) the cognitive processes that emerge out of the interaction between organism and world.
The theory is an explicit reaction to the currently dominant cognitivist paradigm, which states that cognitive systems are essentially computational-representational systems (like computer
software), processing input and generating output (behaviour) on the basis of internal information processing. In cognitivism, the causal root of behaviour lies in the 'virtual' processes governed by the software that runs on our brains. The brain is purely the hardwareon which the software is implemented. The body (sensors and actors) are purely input-output devices that are in service of the brain. The world is merely the play-ground (the object) in which the cognitive agent acts.
In contrast, EEC holds that the actual physical processes in body and in body-world interaction partly constitute whatever it is that we call 'the cognitive system' as a whole. Body, world and brain form a system. Together these system-parts 'cause' intelligent behaviour to arise as a system property. Dynamical Systems Theory is a way of modeling behaviour that teams up quite naturally with the theoretical concepts of EEC.
Current discussions include:
* Is EEC really a (positive) theory of itself, or merely a bunch of complaints about what is wrong about (a too extreme version of) cognitivism?
* Is EEC too 'descriptive', instead of really explaining anything about cognition?
* How can EEC explain
linguisticprocesses and processes of explicit conscious reasoning?
* What would be the most informative empirical hypotheses, starting from an EEC perspective?
* Can we use traditional methods (stimulus-response paradigms) of
experimental psychologyto test EEC hypotheses?
Theorists that inspired the EEC programme (but might not necessarily adhere to the above position) include:
* [http://www.nici.kun.nl/~haselag/links/eeclinks.html Some EEC links]
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