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EMBODIED COGNITION IN CLASSICAL RABBINIC LITERATURE

with Fraser Watts, “Embodied Cognition and Religion”; John A. Teske, “From Embodied to Extended Cognition”; Daniel H. Weiss, “Embodied Cognition in Classical Rabbinic Literature”; Léon Turner, “Individuality in Theological Anthropology and Theories of Embodied Cognition”; and Warren S. Brown and Kevin S. Reimer, “Embodied Cognition, Character Formation, and Virtue.”

Authors

  • Daniel H. Weiss


Abstract

Challenging earlier cognitivist approaches, recent theories of embodied cognition argue that the human mind and its functions are best understood as intimately bound up with the human body and its physiological dimensions. Some scholars have suggested that such theories, in departing from some core assumptions of the Western philosophical tradition, display significant similarities to certain non-Western traditions of thought, such as Buddhism. This essay extends such parallels to the Jewish tradition and argues that, in particular, classical rabbinic thought presents a profoundly nondualistic account of the body–soul relation in its connection to cognition, action, and embodiment. Classical rabbinic texts therefore model the possibility of engaging with ‘Western’ conceptions such as God and the soul, while doing so in a manner that resonates strongly with many aspects of contemporary scientific theories. Thus, beyond their value as historical documents, insight into the texts and concepts of classical rabbinic Judaism can contribute to the further development of new theories of intellect and cognition.

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