What constitutes the mind? The brain? The body? Objects? An interaction between all three? Columbia’s Embodied Cognition Reading Group (E-Cog) brings together scholars and practitioners from a variety of domains and disciplines to discuss the burgeoning literature on embodied cognition. Our understanding of embodied cognition and its related theories can be improved by sharing knowledge across disciplines, and by learning from expert practitioners of embodied practices like music, dance, and weaving. The group aims to bring together scholars and professionals in the humanities, cognitive science, and performing arts, including historians, philosophers, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, musicians, and dancers.

The reading group was founded in Fall 2015 by Dr. Jenny Boulboullé, Prof. Mariusz Kozak, Celia Durkin, and Prof. Pamela Smith under the auspices of the Center for Science and Society. It grew out of the activities of the annual Embodied Cognition Workshop, which began as a collaboration between the Making and Knowing Project, the Heyman Center, and the School of the Arts.  The first Embodied Cognition Workshop was on “Dance and Physics” (February 2015),  the second Embodied Cognition Workshop was “Music and Neuroscience,” (February 2016), and the third will be “Weaving and Cognition” (April 2017), a conference, workshop, and exhibit bringing together speakers with scientific and crafts backgrounds.

The topics of discussion in our first year covered a variety of perspectives of embodied cognition, ranging from research in music, to computer science, to cognitive science, continental philosophy (phenomenology in particular), and performance arts (music and dance). We also invited a well-known proponent of a situated understanding of cognition, Prof. Alva Noë (University of California, Berkeley), to join us for one of our sessions to speak about his new book, “Strange Tools.”

For 2016-2017, the group is organized by Dr. Andrew Goldman (Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience) and Dr. Carmel Raz (Society of Fellows). We will meet on a monthly basis during the semester to discuss various topics surrounding embodied cognition. The group is sponsored by the Center for Science and Society and the Making and Knowing Project.