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Meaning, Mind and Communication

Explorations in Cognitive Semiotics

Edited By Jordan Zlatev, Göran Sonesson and Piotr Konderak

This volume constitutes the first anthology of texts in cognitive semiotics – the new transdisciplinary study of meaning, mind and communication that combines concepts and methods from semiotics, cognitive science and linguistics – from a multitude of established and younger scholars. The chapters deal with the interaction between language and other semiotic resources, the role of consciousness and concepts, the nature of metaphor, the specificity of human evolution and development, the relation between cognitive semiotics and related fields, and other central topics. They are grouped in four sections: (i) Meta-theoretical perspectives, (ii) Semiotic development and evolution, (iii) Meaning across media, modes and modalities, (iv) Language, blends and metaphors.

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Chapter 2. Mutual Enlightenment: A Phenomenological Interpretation of the Embodied Simulation Hypothesis (Carlos A. Pérez)


Carlos A. Pérez

Chapter 2

Mutual Enlightenment:A Phenomenological Interpretation of the Embodied Simulation Hypothesis

1. Introduction: phenomenology and cognitive semiotics

The relationship between phenomenology and semiotics is not new. Husserl’s influence on the Prague school and on Jakobson’s thought in particular has indeed been widely acknowledged (Holenstein 2005). However, due to the cognitive turn in semiotics, which we can trace back to the work of Sonesson (1989), as well as the phenomenological turn of enactivism and embodiment in cognitive science (Varela et al. 1991), it is particularly important to rethink this relationship. Given that cognitive semiotics and the embodied mind hypothesis share a phenomenological approach (cf. Zlatev 2012, 2015a), it seems that they share the same goals. Nonetheless, we need to be careful, since the terminology used in cognitive science is not always as clear as one may wish, and phenomenology is not always within their theoretical landscape.

Varela, Thompson and Rosch’s book, The Embodied Mind (1991) re-opened the door to phenomenology in the study of mind and cognition. The book begins with the explicit recognition of the importance of taking into account the analysis of human experience in order to capture and comprehend the embodied nature of the human mind, and the situatedness of human cognition. According to Varela et al., embodiment and enaction, the key terms that define their theoretical project, are two sides of the same coin: to be a cognitive agent is to be...

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