Concepts and action: where does the embodiment debate leave us?

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Abstract

The behavioural evidence of sensorimotor activity during conceptual processing, along with that from neurological research, ignited the debate around the extent to which concept representations are embodied or amodal. Such evidence continues to fuel the debate but it is open to interpretation as being consistent with a variety of the theoretical positions and so it is possible that further, similar evidence may not lead to its resolution. In this paper we propose that independent value accrues from following this line of research through the enhanced understanding of the factors that influence agents’ conceptual processing of action and how this interacts with the agent’s goals in real environments. This approach is in line with broad principles of embodied cognition and is worthy of pursuit regardless of what the results may (or may not) tell us about conceptual representation.

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