Chapter in:Building Categories in Interaction: Linguistic resources at work
Edited by Caterina Mauri, Ilaria Fiorentini and Eugenio Goria
[Studies in Language Companion Series 220] 2021
► pp. 36–71
Categories at the interface of cognition and action
Grounded cognition offers a natural framework for studying categories that lie at the interface of cognition and action. From this perspective, cognition emerges from the coupling of the brain, the modalities, the body, and the environment. Situated action, in particular, links these domains together, as perceived entities and events in the world (e.g., hedonic stimuli, social agents) trigger self-relevant responses (e.g., goals, values, identities, norms), which in turn produce bodily states (e.g., affect, motivation) that initiate actions (e.g., bodily actions, vocalizations) and ultimately produce outcomes, again in the world (e.g., reward, punishment). Ad hoc and goal-derived categories emerge between the internal cognitive states and external physical states that arise during the pursuit of situated action. Although these categories behave similarly in some ways to conventional taxonomic categories (e.g., possessing graded structure), they differ in others, especially in their dependence on context (typically contexts of situated action). On many occasions, these categories are constructed to support current situated action (ad hoc categories), but when they become relevant to situated action across many occasions, they become well-established in memory (goal-derived categories). Across these categories, ideals play central roles in determining graded structure, supporting the goals that drive situated action. Event frames offer a natural means of understanding how ad hoc and goal-derived categories become constructed compositionally, and how they offer an interface between cognition and the world, essentially providing coordinated patterns of values for instantiating frame variables. Interestingly, this frame-based account can be naturally implemented in the simulation mechanisms of perceptual symbol systems, further grounding ad hoc categories in relations between the brain, modalities, body, and world during situated action.
Keywords: abstraction, ad hoc categories, frames, goal-derived categories, grounded cognition, ideals, situated action (goal-directed action), typicality (graded structure)