Publication 3788

Horn J. K. & Wilburn D. (2005) The embodiment of learning. Educational Philosophy and Theory 37(5): 745–760. Fulltext at
This paper offers an introduction to the philosophy and science of embodied learning, conceived as both the stabilizing and expansionary process that sustains order and novelty within learners’ worlds enacted through observing and describing. Embodied learning acknowledges stability and change as the purposeful conjoined characteristics that sustain learners. It is, in many respects, a composite theory that represents work from various disciplines. \\This ‘naturalized epistemology’ (Varela, 1979) conceives a world of fact inevitably imbued with the values that our own structural histories guarantee us observers, whether acknowledged or not within our reflective awareness. These values, however, are not simple sets of preferences, for they are constituted in our individual learning histories that, for good or bad, influence the course of future learning. This conservational element of our condition is only half the story, however. The more radical aspect resides in the expansionary capacity of embodied observers to change, to enact worlds that are not pre-given (Varela, 1979) but, rather, brought forth by learners as observers and describers. \\Furthermore, embodied learning seeks a grounding for understanding in the often unexplored epistemological terrain between positivist absolutism or its mirrored polar opposite, postmodern nihilism. Its epistemological stance derives from its ontology, which is grounded in the profound obviousness that ‘everything said is said by someone’ (Maturana & Varela, 1998: 27).

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