Anna M. Borghi, Felice Cimatti

WAT (Words As social Tools): A social and embodied perspective on human cognition

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Words As Social Tools (WAT); Language; Embodied Cognition; Grounded Cognition; Classical Cognitivism; Symbol.

The paper focuses othe Words As social Tools (WAT) theory on abstract words. According to the WAT theory, which is an embodied theory, abstract words are grounded in sensorimotor experiences, similarly to concrete words. However, compared to concrete words they activate more linguistic and social information. This is due to their peculiar acquisition modality: since abstract words do not have concrete objects as referents, their acquisition cannot be simply based on perception, but the mediation of words and explanations becomes necessary. In this work we outline the theory addressing some critiques advanced by Faschilli (2015), that concern both the WAT theory and, more generally, embodied and grounded theories on concepts. We focus on some problems concerning specifically the WAT theory: how can the experiences relevant for abstract words meaning be selected, whether or not abstract concepts evoke mental representations, what does the theory claim with respect to the relationship between abstract words, norms and social rules. Finally, we deal with more general issues, for example how can an embodied view explain negation and syntax, and whether the representation format is necessarily modal or can be amodal.

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