Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 403-414

First online:

In defence of embodied cognition: a reply to Fred Adams

  • Christopher LethebyAffiliated withDiscipline of Philosophy, The University of Adelaide Email author 

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Fred Adams (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9(4): 619–628, 2010) criticizes the theory of embodied cognition (EC) which holds that conceptual and linguistic thought is grounded in the brain’s perceptual and sensorimotor systems. Among other things, Adams claims that: (1) EC is potentially committed to an implausible criterion of sentence meaningfulness; (2) EC lacks claimed advantages over rival accounts of conceptual thought; (3) relevant experimental data do not show constitutive, but only causal, involvement of perception in conception; and (4) EC cannot account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. I respond to Adams that: (1) EC is not committed to an implausible criterion of meaningfulness, though it may be committed to holding that comprehension admits of degrees; (2) EC does have its claimed advantages over rival views; (3) the data do make a strong case for constitutive involvement and (4) a broad and comprehensive EC approach probably can account for the comprehension of abstract concepts.


Embodied cognition Simulation Symbol grounding Comprehension Linguistic meaning Perceptual symbols