Within traditional models of cognition the body is viewed as an output system governed by the brain's cognitive system, essentially implying that cognition controls the body. The embodiment perspective argues that the brain is not the only resource for solving problems; the body can also guide cognition. It is through the active exploration of our environment, which is permitted by the capabilities of the body, that cognition can develop. From an evolutionary perspective this claim carries great appeal. Additionally, the embodied perspective is plausible: the brain cannot possibly govern every cell and so it is sensible to consider behaviour as being distributed throughout the body.
It is acknowledged that some forms of embodiment can still align with ideas of representationalism. This is achieved by distributing cognitive work through areas of the body other than the head while maintaining that this cognitive work is a computational process that makes use of representation. In contrast, radical embodiment advocates a position that is severely non-representationalist.
But how can a perspective that looks to eradicate the notion of representation cope with abstract thought? Abstract thinking is a form of higher order cognition that includes counterfactual thought, reasoning and future planning and is regarded as the most sophisticated form of cognition. As it often relies on moving away from real-world events it is difficult to reconcile with the tenets of embodiment.