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Embodiment, Enaction, and CultureInvestigating the Constitution of the Shared World$
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Christoph Durt, Thomas Fuchs, and Christian Tewes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035552

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035552.001.0001

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Neoteny and Social Cognition: A Neuroscientific Perspective on Embodiment

Neoteny and Social Cognition: A Neuroscientific Perspective on Embodiment

Chapter:
(p.309) 16 Neoteny and Social Cognition: A Neuroscientific Perspective on Embodiment
Source:
Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture
Author(s):

Vittorio Gallese

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035552.003.0017

The chapter will address the notion of embodiment from a neuroscientific perspective, by emphasizing the crucial role played by bodily relations and sociality on the evolution and development of distinctive features of human cognition. The neurophysiological level of description is here accounted for in terms of bodily-formatted representations and discussed by replying to criticisms recently raised against this notion. The neuroscientific approach here proposed is critically framed and discussed against the background of the Evo-Devo focus on a little explored feature of human beings in relation to social cognition: their neotenic character. Neoteny refers to the slowed or delayed physiological and/or somatic development of an individual. Such development is largely dependent on the quantity and quality of interpersonal relationships the individual is able to establish with her/his adult peers. It is proposed that human neoteny further supports the crucial role played by embodiment, here spelled out by adopting the explanatory framework of embodied simulation, in allowing humans to engage in social relations, and make sense of others’ behaviors.This approach can fruitfully be used to shed new light onto non propositional forms of communication and social understanding and onto distinctive human forms of meaning making, like the experience of man-made fictional worlds.

Keywords:   Aesthetics, Bodily-formatted representations, Bodily-Self, Embodied simulation, Embodiment, Evo-Devo, Exaptation, Mirror neurons, Neoteny, Neural reuse

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