Root-Brains: The Frontiers of Cognition in the Light of John Dewey’s Philosophy of Nature

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
Author: Roman Madzia1
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  • 1 Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, University of Erfurt, Nordhäuser Str. 74, 99089 Erfurt, Germany, roman.madzia@uni-erfurt.de

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This article endeavors to interpret certain facets of Dewey’s philosophy in light of an underinvestigated research program in contemporary situated cognition, namely, plant cognition. I argue that Dewey’s views on situated cognition go substantially further than most philosophers of embodied mind are ready to admit. Building on the background of current research in plant cognition, and adding conceptual help of Dewey, I contend that plants can be seen as full-blown cognitive organisms, although they do not have what one would normally call “a body.” Through this line of inquiry, I identify what are among the most pressing problems in current theories of the embodied mind and subsequently try to overcome them by means of Dewey’s metaphysics of the psychical.

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