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Photo of Professor Giovanna Colombetti

Professor Giovanna Colombetti

BA (Florence), MSc (Birmingham), DPhil (Sussex)

Associate Professor


01392 723287

Amory 311

I am a philosopher of cognitive science, and I work primarily in the field of '4E cognition' (embodied, embedded, enactive and extended cognition). Since my PhD, my research has focused on affectivitiy and I have worked to reconceptualize various affective phenomena from a 4E-cognition perspective. In both teaching and research I draw liberally on phenomenology, analytic philosophy, as well as theoretical and experimental work in psychology and neuroscience. More recently I have become interested in the contribution that the social sciences and the field of material culture studies can make to our understanding of affectivity, in particular in the context of philosophical debates on the 'situated' and even 'extended' nature of the mind.

I am member of EGENIS, and lead its Mind, Body, and Culture research group.

I am also Associate Editor of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

Past grants:

In 2010-2014 I was the Principal Investigator of a Starting Grant funded by the European Research Council (ERC), titled "Emoting the Embodied Mind" (EMOTER). This project focused primarily on so-called "embodied" and "enactive" approaches in the philosophy of cognitive science. These approaches have emphasized that to explain and understand mental phenomena we need to look at the whole organism; studying the brain only is not sufficient. My project EMOTER expanded upon this view, elaborating its implications for our understanding of various affective phenomena (such as emotions, moods, feelings), and of the relation between cognition and affectivity. My book The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind (2014, MIT Press) presents and discusses most of the ideas developed during this project.

You can access and dowload my publications here.

Research group links

Research interests

  • Philosophy of mind: emotion and affectivity; consciousness; embodied and enactive approaches; the extended mind
  • Philosophy of science: theories and experimental work in affective science
  • Phenomenology of affectivity and the body
  • Asian philosophies and meditative practices

NB: You can access and dowload my publications here.

Research supervision

I am interested in supervising research at Master and PhD level in the following areas:

  • Philosophy of cognitive science - especially of "4EA cognition" (embodied, embedded, enactive, extended AND affective cognition);
  • Philosophy of emotion - especially questions about embodiment, emotional consciousness and feelings, moods and personality, affect and materiality;
  • Philosophy of affective science - especially methodological and theoretical issues pertaining to the scientific and experimental study of affective phenomena;
  • Consciousness studies - especially phenomenology (classic and contemporary), neurophenomenology, and Asian and contemplative approaches;
  • Theoretical approaches to material culture and technology - especially in relation to affect, and from a multidisciplinary perspective, including philosophy but not only (taking advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of this Department).


I joined the (then) Sociology & Philosophy Department at Exeter in 2007. Before then I moved around quite a lot...

2005-2007: Postdoc at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences at the University of Trento (Italy). During this period I spent 10 months at the Cognitive Neuropsychology Laboratory at Harvard University.

2003-2005: Postdoc in "Cognitive Science and the Embodied Mind" at the Philosophy Department of York University (Canada) under the supervision of Evan Thompson.

2000-2004: DPhil in Philosophy at the former School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (now Centre for Research in Cognitive Science) at the University of Sussex (UK), under the supervision of Andy Clark.

1999-2000: MSc in Cognitive Science at the University of Birmingham (UK). For my final project I used John Barnden's system ATT Meta, an AI system that reasons about mental states, to reason about desires and emotions.

1993-1999: Laurea in Filosofia at the Dipartimento di Filosofia of the University of Florence (Italy). My Tesi (in Italian) was entitled The role of Gödel's incompleteness theorems and quantum mechanics in the mind-computer debate. My supervisors were Marisa Dalla Chiara and Marco Giunti. I also collaborated with Bruno Marchal at the IRIDIA, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium).