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The Agile Mind$
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Wilma Koutstaal

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195367188

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367188.001.0001

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Thinking with Our Senses

Thinking with Our Senses

(p.125) 4 Thinking with Our Senses
The Agile Mind

Wilma Koutstaal

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines the important but underrecognized multiple contributions of sensory-perceptual and sensory-motor information to concepts and to thinking. It covers research and findings from developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, philosophical psychology, naturalistic experiments in economics, and other areas to argue for the essential role that “thinking with our senses” assumes in enabling agility of mind. At an abstract level, the chapter is broadly grouped into four sections, concentrating on: the integral contribution of perceptual and action-related information to mental concepts or representations; the ways in which both current perception and current actions (e.g., gestures) may guide and support thinking and insight; the key importance of the “embodied” and “grounded” nature of mental representations in enabling innovative, and even completely novel, uses of language; and the role of so-called epistemic objects in thinking, including the pervasive and sometimes illicit effects of the specifically physical nature of language (the sensory-perceptual aspects of words as objects in the world, that can be heard and/or seen) on the nature and direction of thought.

Keywords:   sensory-perceptual information, sensory-motor information, mental representations, mental conceptions, perception, language, epistemic objects

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