Similarity Judgments and Exemplars: From T.S. Kuhn to Embodied Simulation




exemplars, similarity judgements, perception, Embodied Cognition, Embodied Simulation


The paper takes up the complex Kuhnian concept of the “exemplar” through some key passages from the Postscript-1969 and The Essential Tension. The term “exemplar” refers to the deeper philosophical meaning of the scientific paradigm: the “normal” scientist, with reference to the paradigm, can carry out his or her research by making similarity judgments between different problems. Such judgments are based on a perceptive ability that precedes any explicit rule and which is defined as both learned and primitive.

This paper intends to analyze this dual aspect of similarity perception from the point of view of Embodied Simulation Theory. The Kuhnian concept of exemplar can be clarified and deepened by considering the value of embodiment. The mechanisms of an “educated” perception can be identified in those automatic mechanisms of perceptual mirroring on which embodied cognition is based.