Associate teachers


ECTS credits


Number of hours: Lectures + Seminars + Exercises

30 / 15 / 0

Course objectives

The course aims to introduce students to the main ideas, problems, and discussions of embodied cognition, an interdisciplinary research program that challenges the dominant representational-computational paradigm of cognitive science. Against the brain- centric representational-computational conception of the mind as an information processing system performing computations over mental representations, embodied cognition contends that cognition is constituted by a dynamic coupling of the brain/mind, the body, and the environment. This fundamental idea has been formulated in various ways (also known as 4E cognition, cognition as embodied, embedded, extended, enactive and situated) across different disciplines (philosophy, psychology, linguistics, dynamic-systems theory, artificial intelligence and robotics), and the course aims at introducing students with all its relevant aspects. The course will enable students to discuss and explore the significance of the brain-body-environment coupling for cognition, critically assess the contributions of embodied cognition in relation to the representational-computational paradigm of cognitive science and vice versa, and apply this knowledge in other closely related research areas.

The course is closely related and complementary to Introduction to cognitive science. While the latter emphasized the representational-computational paradigm of cognitive science which was dominant in the first phase of its development, this course focuses on the challenges to this paradigm from the perspective of embodied (or 4E) cognition, which determined the later developments of cognitive science.

Enrolment requirements and/or entry competences required for the course


Learning outcomes at the level of the programme to which the course contributes

  • Explain major historical paradigms and recognize important new trends in cognitive science.
  • Integrate insights, methods, and levels of analysis across different disciplines into a unified framework for understanding the human mind and cognition in general.
  • Critically evaluate cognitive science findings and synthesize information to be employed in a collaborative professional environment.
  • Employ cognitive science insights in developing innovative, human-friendly and sustainable technological solutions.
  • Apply interdisciplinary approach in examining phenomena pertaining to cognition.
  • Design and conduct an interdisciplinary research project in cognitive science.
  • Employ diverse disciplinary tools in exploring and describing the nature of cognitive processes.

Course content (syllabus)

  • Introduction to the course. Embodied cognition - the concept, the term, the problems, the disciplines.
  • The mind-body problem in the history of philosophy. The phenomenological basis of embodied cognition.
  • Ecological psychology (Barker, Gibson) against cognitive psychology.
  • Embodiment of language and concepts (Lakoff, Johnson).
  • The embodied mind (Varela, Thompson and Rosch).
  • Enactive cognition.
  • Embedded and situated cognition.
  • The extended mind (Clark and Chalmers).
  • Dynamical systems theory and cognition - the dynamical hypothesis (Van Gelder).
  • Embodied cognition and neurophenomenology.
  • Artificial life, robotics and embodied cognition.
  • Social cognition as embodied, embedded and situated.
  • Emotions as embodied, embedded and situated.
  • Situated creativity.
  • Embodied cognition against classical computationalism and connectionism.

Student responsibilities

Class attendance, seminar paper, written exam

Required literature

  • Newen, A., De Bruin, L., and Gallagher, S. (Eds.). (2018). The Oxford Handbook of 4E Cognition. Oxford: OUP. (Selected chapters)
  • Varela, F. J., Thompson, E., & Rosch, E. (1991). The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience, Cambridge, US: MIT Press. (Selected chapters)
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh: the Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books. (Selected chapters)
  • Menary, R. (Ed.). (2010). The extended mind. Cambridge, US: MIT Press. (Selected chapters)

Optional literature

  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1981). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Selected chapters)
  • Clark, A. (1997). Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
  • Clark, A. (2010). Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. Oxford: OUP.