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Keywords:

  • brain;
  • cognition;
  • embodiment;
  • mind

Abstract

It is argued that there are good scientific grounds for accepting that cognition functions in a way that reflects embodiment. This represents a more holistic, systemic way of thinking about human beings, and contributes to the coordination of scientific assumptions about mind and body with those of the faith traditions, moving us beyond sterile debates about reductionism. It has been claimed by Francisco Varela and others that there is an affinity between Buddhism and embodied cognition, though it is argued here that they are less closely aligned than is sometimes assumed. Embodied cognition also accords well with the holistic strand of thinking about human nature in Judeo-Christian thinking. While accepting the persuasiveness of the general case for cognition being embodied it is suggested here that some forms of cognition are more embodied than others, and that it may be one of the distinctive features of humans that they have developed a capacity for relatively nonembodied forms of cognition.