Embodied Cognition in Today’s NY Times

Most of my abstract paintings are in some way related to my interests in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science.  One of the themes that underlies this work is the notion of embodiment, that how we make sense of the world is very much tied to the physical nature of our bodies.  I became interested in this particular theory around 2004 after taking two classes while I was living in New York City:  (1) Brain Gym, which tried to link certain exercises with a kind of mental fitness (see also the book Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head); and, much more significantly, (2) a course at The New School based on the book Philosophy in the Flesh by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.

While the number of books on embodiment in its various forms has grown in recent years, I haven’t seen much about it in the mainstream press.  Today, however, The New York Times’ Natalie Angier has written a nice primer on the subject: “Abstract Thoughts?  The Body Takes Them Literally.”  The article highlights some of the fascinating research that shows, for instance, how metaphors we use when thinking about time are so embodied within us that we actually tend to lean forward when talking about the future and lean backward when talking about the past.

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