Reenactment: An Embodied Cognition Approach to Meaning and Linguistic Content
Ben Gurion University of the Negev - Philosophy Department
September 22, 2011
Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, Forthcoming
A central finding in experimental research identified with embodied cognition (EC) is that understanding actions involves their embodied simulation, i.e., executing some processes involved in performing these actions. Extending these findings, I argue that reenactment — the overt embodied simulation of actions and practices, including especially communicative actions and practices, within utterances — makes it possible to forge an integrated EC-based account of linguistic meaning. In particular, I argue: (a) that remote entities can be referred to by reenacting actions performed with them; (b) that the use of grammatical constructions can be conceived of as the reenactment of linguistic action routines; (c) that complex enunciational structures (reported speech, irony, etc.) involve a separate level of reenactment, on which characters are presented as interacting with one another within the utterance; (d) that the segmentation of long utterances into shorter units involves the reenactment of brief audience interventions between units; and (e) that the overall meaning of an utterance can be stated in reenactment terms. The notion of reenactment provides a conceptual framework for accounting for aspects of language that are usually thought to be outside the reach of EC in an EC framework, thus supporting a view of meaning and linguistic content as thoroughly grounded in action and interaction.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: action, cognitive linguistics, dialog, embodied cognition, meaning, simulationworking papers series
Date posted: March 24, 2012
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