Thinking-is-moving: dance, agency, and a radically enactive mind [Book Review]

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (1):95-110 (2015)
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Recently, in cognitive science, the enactivist account of cognition has been gaining ground, due in part to studies of movement in conjunction with thought. The idea, as Noë , has put it, that “cognition is not something happening inside us or to us, but it’s something we do, something we achieve,” is increasingly supported by research on joint attention, movement coordination, and gesture. Not surprisingly, therefore, enactivists have also begun to look at “movement specialists”—dancers—for both scientific and phenomenological accounts of thinking with and through movement. In this paper, I argue that a serious exploration of dance and movement does not merely bolster the enactivist view, but rather, it suggests a radical enactivism, as envisaged by, e.g., Hutto . To support this claim, I examine an account of “Thinking in Movement” provided by Maxine Sheets-Johnstone in order to highlight the ways in which intentional agency and meaning-making occur in improvisational dance. These processes, I further argue, closely mirror some of the key components of participatory sense making, as described by De Jaegher and Di Paolo :485–507, 2007). This is beneficial to my case, because it permits a discussion of “thought-full action” that does not depend upon standard cognitivist frameworks for explanation. By carefully focusing on how agency can help to separate mere “thrashing about” from meaningful movement, this paper aim to strengthen the position of radical enactivism from the unique perspective and dance and sense-making



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Michele Merritt
Arkansas State University

References found in this work

Phenomenology of perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind.Evan Thompson - 2007 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.

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