Radical Embodied Cognitive Science, Neural Reuse, and their implications for the language sciences

Date 15.-16. september 2015        
Time and place 15. september, 09:30-16:00 in meetingroom Comenius
16. september, 09:00-15:30 in room O97
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Closing date for this course is September 14, 2015
ECTS 1.5 ECTS. An extra 0.5 ECTS is possible for those submitting a 2-3 pages essay on the possible relevance of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science for their respective fields. Attendance both days obligatory for ECTS
Participants Max. 15


This Ph.D. course raises the questions: how do the brain, the body, the world, and language interact in the complexities of human life? And what would answers to this question imply for the language sciences (including syntax, pragmatics, semantics, interaction analysis, etc.)?

This course offers an introduction to Embodied Cognitive Science (ECS) which offers a framework for answering these questions. We begin with an historical overview of ECS. Many of you may have already heard of an important precursor to ECS, namely the work by James Gibson on the ecological bases of vision which included the well-known and often (mis)used notion of ’affordances’. In the overview, we also position ECS with respect to competing frameworks, most notably Cognitive and Evolutionary Psychology respectively. A fundamental contrast with these approaches is ECS’s proposal that behavior, bodily structure, and environmental resources are deeply implicated in an adequate explanation of cognition. Evidence will be presented which supports this proposal including, in particular, recent findings in neuroscience. Finally, we explore what’s radical about Radical Embodied Cognitive Science and attempt to draw out its consequences for the study of language and social interaction.

The course will contain lectures, open discussions and (embodied) demonstrations. There will be readings and on the bases of these, participants are required to submit questions and suggest topics of particular interest for discussion. Participants are also encouraged to submit possible empirical cases from their PhD projects which might fruitfully be explored from an ECS perspective.

Tony Chemero: Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, the Center for Cognition, Action, and Perception at the University of Cincinnati. (http://www.uc.edu/cap.html)
Michael L. Anderson: Associate Professor of Cognitive Science in the Department of Psychology at Franklin & Marshall College and in the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland. (http://www.cs.umd.edu/~anderson/)

Required Readings

  • Anderson, M. L. (2003). Embodied cognition: A field guide. Artificial Intelligence, 149(1), 91-130.
  • Anderson, M. L. (2015). Précis of After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1-22.
  • Anderson, M. L. (2014). After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. Chapter 1.
  • Anderson, M. L., Richardson, M. J., & Chemero, A. (2012). Eroding the Boundaries of Cognition: Implications of Embodiment. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4(4), 717-730.
  • Chemero, A. (2013). Radical embodied cognitive science. Review of General Psychology, 17(2), 145-150.
  • Chemero, A. (2009). Radical Embodied Cognitive Science. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. Chapter 2.
  • Chemero, A. (2003). An outline of a theory of affordances. Ecological Psychology, 15(2), 181–195. 



’Our events are open free of charge to PhD students from our own program, and from all other programs provided they also offer tuition free of charge to our students. ’Soon-to-be’ Phd students may also attend with permission from the event instructors and the Program Director, whom you should first contact if this applies to you (Dennis Day: dennis.day@sdu.dk). We are also very happy if senior members of staff wish to attend, particularly PhD supervisors, and will accommodate them in lieu of space. We ask all who attend an event to register. You’ll find the online registration form on the same page as the event description.’