About this Research Topic
All animal species that sexually reproduce are to that extent, at least minimally social. Many species are more social in that an individual organism’s survival and reproductive success mostly depends on its interactions with co-specifics, rather than on its individual relations with the non-social environment. In some species of eusocial insects, the body of individual members is determined by their social relationships, not only in that individuals playing different social roles have a different morphology, but also how youngsters are raised (fed) is what determines their social role and morphology. This relationship between social relations and characteristics of the body also finds expression in the human brain whose connectivity and development depends in part on the history of the child’s social interactions. Social embodiment constitutes a level of the organization of the embodied mind, a form of “meta-embodiment” emerging from previous levels of embodiment, that is shaped by the bodily features of individual organisms and shapes them in return. Social embodiment, viewed as how social interactions co-determine other levels of organization of embodied cognitive agents, is rarely taken as the focus of research. We wish to bring attention to the complex organization of our embodiment, encompassing mutually embedded inter-individual, individual and intra-individual levels revealing that we are more profoundly social than “meets the eye”.
The ambition is to interconnect a multiplicity of disciplines – i.e. biology, ethology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, education sciences, philosophy, artificial ethology, social robotics, HRI, HCI, A-Life, swarm robotics, agent-based modeling – in the exploration of the social embodiment of cognitive agents.
Research themes for this RT include theoretical, experimental, applicative, ethical and integrative investigations into: the (interconnected) roles of brain, body, the environment in social dynamics among humans and others (animal or/and artificial agents); social embodiment in developmental, educational and therapeutic processes (with interest in AI and robot-supported educational and therapeutic processes); embodied mind-technology relation(s) in social contexts; the biology of social organisms in connection to human social embodiment; the simulation of social interactions and social embodiment by artificial approaches; the emergence of levels in socially embodied (natural and artificial) systems from an interactive standpoint; social embodiment in a level perspective and ethical issues; social embodiment from an anthropological perspective; social embodiment of the brain; social embodiment of mental disorders.
Keywords: Social embodiment, Interaction, Mind-technology relation, Brain social embodiment, Levels of emergence
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