Thumbnail Image

The strong program in embodied cognitive science

Oliveira, Guilherme Sanches de

A popular trend in the sciences of the mind is to understand cognition as embodied, embedded, enactive, ecological, and so on. While some of the work under the label of “embodied cognition” takes for granted key commitments of traditional cognitive science, other projects coincide in treating embodiment as the starting point for an entirely different way of investigating all of cognition. Focusing on the latter, this paper discusses how embodied cognitive science can be made more reflexive and more sensitive to the implications that our views of cognition have for how we understand scientific practice, including our own theorizing about cognition. Inspired by the “strong programme” in the sociology of scientific knowledge, I explore the prospect of an analogously “strong” program in embodied cognitive science. I first draw from Dewey’s transactional notion of “situation” to identify a broad sense in which embodied cognitive science takes cognition, as an embodied phenomenon, to be situated. I then sketch a perspective I call situated reflexivity, which extends the Deweyan analysis to understand scientific practice in the same terms, and thereby illustrates what research in line with a strong program in embodied cognitive science can look like. This move, I propose, has the potential of setting up a new inquiry situation that makes more salient the embodiment of scientific practice and that, through this, can help organize our own embodied cognitive activities as we try to make sense of scientific work, including our own.
Published in: Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 10.1007/s11097-022-09806-w, Springer Nature