Thinking with hands, acting with minds: embodied cognition and creative practice

Chris Baber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional conceptions of ‘creativity’ assume that the creative person is able to imagine a finished product and then bring this forth through their skill in making things. This conception is also used to separate the ‘artist’ from the craft-worker. In this paper, I show how the developing theories of Embodied Cognition can illustrate when and how ‘creativity’ arises in the design and production of jewellery. I demonstrate the points at which creative reflection are acted upon (even when the jewellers might not be able to put their ‘cognition’ into words). I argue that not only does Embodied Cognition provide a clear and parsimonious account of how jewellers create their objects, but that it also provides a strong and compelling theoretical basis for Ergonomics. By marrying our understanding of how people physically interact with their tools and the world around them, with our understanding of how goal-directed actions are performed, the theory of Embodied Cognition is fundamental in shaping Ergonomics’ ability to explain and analyse human activity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018) - Volume VII
Subtitle of host publicationErgonomics in Design, Design for All, Activity Theories for Work Analysis and Design, Affective Design
EditorsSebastiano Bagnara, Riccardo Tartaglia, Sara Albolino, Thomas Alexander, Yushi Fujita
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages10
Edition1st ed. 2019 edition
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-96071-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-96070-8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2018
Event20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, IEA 2018 - Florence, Italy
Duration: 26 Aug 201830 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
ISSN (Print)2194-5357


Conference20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, IEA 2018


  • 1/f scaling
  • Craftwork
  • Creativity
  • Embodied cognition
  • Tool use
  • Uncontrolled manifold hypothesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • General Computer Science


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