This dissertation proposes the central elements of a Social Enactive Theory of Perception. According to SEP, perception consists in sensory-based practices of interaction with objects, events, and states of affairs that are socially constituted. I oppose the representational view that perception is an indirect contact with the world, consists of the passive receiving and processing of sensory input, is in need of constant assessment of accuracy, and is a matter of individuals alone. I share the basic (...) enactivist insight that perception is a type of activity, but I depart from standard enactivism on the grounds of its individualistic bias and its limited conception of activity. Instead of motor actions, I formulate the concept of perceptual practices as the appropriate framework to understand perception. Perception is woven into socially informed, contextual, sensory-based everyday activities, such as food, dance, and dress, and even seemingly independent, basic perceptual activities and concepts are constituted by such practices. Perceptual individual interactions instantiate social perceptual practices but are not just repetitions of a script. We perceive objects in virtue of perspectives or appearances, not in spite of them, and on this basis I offer SEPâs take on experience, properties, and contents. I conceive perceptual experience as finely grained interactions between subjects and objects, both of which are spatially, temporally, and pragmatically situated. Objects and their sensory properties are perceived dynamically and always in multiple appearances. Perceptual content offers a pragmatic specification of the perceptual objects in the specific ways they appear to subjects. For SEP, perception is normatively structured. SEPâs perceptual normativity is not a worry about a supposed constant threat that our perceptions be nonveridical, but about the placement of perceptual things in a system of possibilities and expectations, cast in terms of degrees of fulfillment of expectations and in a horizon of pragmatic significance, both of which are functions of the socially constituted interactions between a perceiver and a rich theory of appearances. (shrink)
Alva Noë’s _Action in Perception _offers a provocative and vigorous defense of the thesis that vision is enactive: visual experience depends on dispositional motor responses. On this view, vision and action are inextricably bound. In this review, I argue against enactiveperception. I raise objections to seven lines of evidence that appear in Noë’s book, and I indicate some reasons for thinking that vision can operate independently of motor responses. I conclude that the relationship between vision (...) and action is causal, not constitutive. I then address three other contentious hypotheses in the book. Noë argues that visual states are not pictorial; he argues that all perception is conceptual; and he argues that the external world makes a constitutive contribution to experience. I am unpersuaded by these arguments, and I offer reasons to resist Noë’s conclusions. (shrink)
The general idea of enactiveperception is that actual and potential embodied activities determine perceptual experience. Some extended mind theorists, such as Andy Clark, refute this claim despite their general emphasis on the importance of the body. I propose a compromise to this opposition. The extended mind thesis is allegedly a consequence of our commonsense understanding of the mind. Furthermore, extended mind theorists assume the existence of non-human minds. I explore the precise nature of the commonsense understanding of (...) the mind, which accepts both extended minds and non-human minds. In the area of philosophy of mind, there are two theories of intentionality based on such commonsense understandings: neo-behaviorism defended, e.g., by Daniel Dennett, and neo-pragmatism advocated, e.g., by Robert Brandom. Neither account is in full agreement with how people ordinarily use their commonsense understanding. Neo-pragmatism, however, can overcome its problem—its inability to explain why people routinely find intentionality in non-humans—by incorporating the phenomenological suggestion that interactional bodily skills determine how we perceive others’ intentionality. I call this integrative position embodied neo-pragmatism . I conclude that the extended view of the mind makes sense, without denying the existence of non-human minds, only by assuming embodied neo-pragmatism and hence the general idea of enactiveperception. (shrink)
This paper compares the enactive approach to perception, which has recently emerged in cognitive science, with the phenomenological approach. Inspired by Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, the enactive theorists Alva Noë and Evan Thompson take perception to be a result of the interaction between the brain, the body and the environment. Their argument turns mostly on the role of self-motion and sensorimotor knowledge in perceptual experience. It was said to be entirely consistent with phenomenology, indeed its revival. However, (...) this issue is under debate. To show this, I begin with analyzing the enactive conception as a physicalist attempt to overcome the challenge of dualism and representationalism. I then turn to Husserl’s transcendental method and argue that Noë’s solution, unlike Husserl’s, remains naturalistic, as it does not take the phenomenon of intersubjectivity and the constitution of the “cultural world” into account. Afterwards I turn to Merleau-Ponty and demonstrate that there is some certain common ground with Noë, but also major differences. I conclude that the enactive approach is not completely refuted by the phenomenological one, insofar as the latter partly contains the first. Yet the enactivists deal merely with the necessary physiological conditions of perception qua animal perception, not with the sufficient sociocultural conditions for the understanding of human perception, like the inquiry into the historical and linguistic circumstances under which the understanding of human mind is made possible. The reason why the recent transformation of phenomenology into neurophenomenology is perceived as a revival is virtually inherent to the specific scientific ethos of enactivism and reveals a certain oblivion of the objectives of philosophical phenomenology. (shrink)
In this paper we attempt to advance the enactive discourse on perception by highlighting the role of bodily affects as prenoetic constraints on perceptual experience. Enactivists argue for an essential connection between perception and action, where action primarily means skillful bodily intervention in one’s surroundings. Analyses of sensory-motor contingencies (as in Noë 2004) are important contributions to the enactive account. Yet this is an incomplete story since sensory-motor contingencies are of no avail to the perceiving agent (...) without motivational pull in one direction or another or a sense of the pertinent affective contingencies. Before directly addressing the issue of affect in perception, we explain our peculiar, low-level conception of affect as a form of world-involving intentionality that modulates (minimally) bodily behavior without necessarily possessing informational value of any kind. We then address the deficiency concerning affect in enactive accounts of perception by examining some exemplary forms of bodily affect that constrain perception. We show that bodily affect significantly contributes to (either limiting or enabling) our contact with the world in our perceptually operative attentive outlook, in a kind of perceptual interest or investment, and in social perception. (shrink)
A correction has been made to: Bar, Roi. The Forgotten Phenomenology: “EnactivePerception” in the Eyes of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, v. 28, n. 1, p. 53-72, june 2020.The incorrect abstract was included with the original publication of DOI 10.5195/jffp.2020.928The original article has been updated to reflect this change.
Most accounts of veridical perception draw upon conventional causal theories of perception for an explanatory framework. Recently developed enactive or sensorimotor theories of perception pose a challenge to such accounts, necessitating a redefinition of veridical perception. I propose and defend one such definition, drawing upon empirical studies of perception, the resources of the enactive approach and phenomenology. I argue that perceptual experience engages an organism in a network of sensorimotor dependencies with the perceived (...) object, and that veridical perceptions involve experiential mastery of these dependencies. A thought example involving the phoneme restoration effect is used to compare this definition favourably with traditional accounts of veridical perception that involve the generation of matching content with appropriate causal history or patterns of counterfactual dependence. I also defend my account of veridical perception against several objections. (shrink)
What are the ethical, political and cultural consequences of forgetting how to trust our senses? How can artworks help us see, sense, think, and interact in ways that are outside of the systems of convention and order that frame so much of our lives? In Cultivating Perception through Artworks, Helen Fielding challenges us to think alongside and according to artworks, cultivating a perception of what is really there and being expressed by them. Drawing from and expanding on the (...) work of philosophers such as Luce Irigaray and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Fielding urges us to trust our senses and engage relationally with works of art in the here and now rather than distancing and systematizing them as aesthetic objects. Cultivating Perception through Artworks examines examples as diverse as a Rembrandt painting, M. NourbeSe Philip's poetry, and Louise Bourgeois' public sculpture, to demonstrate how artworks enact ethics, politics, or culture. By engaging with different art forms and discovering the unique way that each opens us to the world in a new and unexpected ways, Fielding reveals the importance of our moral, political, and cultural lives. (shrink)
Pessoa'sThe Cognitive-Emotional Brain(2013) is an integrative approach to neuroscience that complements other developments in cognitive science, especially enactivism. Both accept complexity as essential to mind; both tightly integrate perception, cognition, and emotion, which enactivism unifies in its foundational concept of sense-making; and both emphasize that the spatial extension of mental processes is not reducible to specific brain regions and neuroanatomical connectivity. An enactive neuroscience is emerging.
This mixed methods research study investigated if explicit instruction could affect EFL teachers’ perceptions and practices of classroom justice considering its three-dimensional conceptualization based on the social psychology theories of justice, encompassing the distributive, interactional, and procedural justice. To this end, 77 Iranian English as a Foreign Language teachers, chosen through maximum variation sampling, attended a four-session online justice-training course. The data were collected both before and after the course intervention through close- and open-ended questionnaires. Quantitative data analysis results, obtained (...) through running paired samples t-tests and Wilcoxon signed ranks tests, indicated that except for the distributive component, the treatment was effective in significantly enhancing the Iranian EFL teachers’ procedural, interactional, and total classroom justice perceptions. Content analysis of the posttest qualitative data, done through MAXQDA, revealed that the participants approved the course usefulness, its significance, and uses of justice enactment strategies in their classroom. Furthermore, they confirmed positive changes in their conceptions and practices of justice because of attending the course and showed enthusiasm in attending more such courses in the future. The convergence of the quantitative and qualitative results in this study demonstrated the effectiveness of the justice-oriented training course for enhancing EFL teachers’ just classroom behaviors. Hence, the results would be fruitful for teacher educators aiming to promote the pre- and in-service EFL teachers’ professional effectiveness through explicit instruction on classroom justice and its use in teacher education programs. (shrink)
Can we see the expressiveness of other people's gestures, hear the intentions in their voice, see the emotions in their posture? Traditional theories of social cognition still say we cannot because intentions and emotions for them are hidden away inside and we do not have direct access to them. Enactive theories still have no idea because they have so far mainly focused on perception of our physical world. We surmise, however, that the latter hold promise since, in trying (...) to understand cognition, enactive theory focuses on the embodied engagements of a cognizer with his world. In this paper, we attempt an answer for the question What is social perception in an enactive account? In enaction, perception is conceived as a skill, crucially involving action, an ability to work successfully within the set of regularities, or contingencies that characterize a given domain. If this is the case, then social perception should be a social skill. Having thus transformed the question of what social perception is into that of what social skill is, we examine the concept of social contingencies and the manner in which social skills structure—both constrain and empower— social interaction. Some of the implications of our account for how social and physical perception differ, the role of embodiment in social interaction and the distinction between our approach and other social contingency theories are also addressed. (shrink)
I argue for an enactive account of musical experience — that is, the experience of listening ‘deeply’(i.e., sensitively and understandingly) to a piece of music. The guiding question is: what do we do when we listen ‘deeply’to music? I argue that these music listening episodes are, in fact, doings. They are instances of active perceiving, robust sensorimotor engagements with and manipulations of sonic structures within musical pieces. Music is thus experiential art, and in Nietzsche’s words, ‘we listen to music (...) with our muscles’. This paper attempts to explicate and defend this claim. First, I discuss enactive approaches to consciousness and cognition generally. Next, I apply an enactive model of perceptual consciousness to the experience of listening to music. To clarify what is at stake, I use Peter Kivy’s ‘enhanced formalism’ as a philosophical foil. I then look at how the animate body shapes musical experience. (shrink)
En este ensayo exploro cierta veta reduccionista del enfoque enactivo de Noë. Primero argumento que su concepción de nuestro encuentro perceptual con las propiedades intrínsecas de los objetos requiere una metafísica relacional revisionista para ser exitosa. Luego argumento que la propuesta de Noë sobre el rol de la percepción para el pensamiento espacial exige una concepción revisionista de nuestros conceptos espaciales cotidianos. Finalmente, sugiero que a la base de estas formas de revisionismo está una comprensión reduccionista de la egocentricidad perceptual (...) que debe abandonarse si queremos una concepción más substantiva de la percepción y su rol explicativo en el pensamiento. (shrink)
The enactive approach and the skilled intentionality framework are two closely related forms of radical embodied cognition that nonetheless exhibit important differences. In this paper, I focus on a conceptual disparity regarding the normative character of action and perception. Whereas the skilled intentionality framework describes the norms of action and perception as the capacity of embodied agents to become attuned (i.e., skilled intentionality) to preestablished normative frameworks (i.e., situated normativity), the enactive approach describes the same phenomenon (...) as the enactment of norms (i.e., as sense-making) at different levels of organization that go from individual biological agents to linguistic encounters. I will argue that although both accounts accurately recognize important features of the norms of action and perception, they also have significant shortcomings. Norm-attunement accurately sees normative, ecological frameworks as the necessary set of constraints for the existence of norms at play in sociocultural bodily practices, but it fails to acknowledge the temporal and open-ended character of these norms and frameworks. Norm-enactment, by contrast, acknowledges that norms of action and perception are temporally open-ended, but fails to explicitly recognize that environmental normative frameworks are necessary for the enactment and development of all sort of norms in the interactional domain of an agent-environment system. To overcome these problems, I propose an enactive-ecological approach to norms of action and perception. This approach consists in describing norm-enactment as a result of a developmental process I call norm-development. This process describes the enactment of norms from the background of ecological, normative frameworks. These frameworks are norms enacted in the past of the interactional history of the agent-environment system that remain open to new configurations (new norms) in the present. To clarify conceptually norm-development, I appeal to Merleau-Ponty’s descriptions of norms of perception, and more particularly to his concept of spatial levels. Like the enactive approach, Merleau-Ponty recognizes that perceptual norms emerge in the interactional history of the agent-environment system, but he also posits that ecological, normative frameworks, that he calls levels, enable and constrain the emergence of perceptual norms and its development. (shrink)
The condition of ‘genuine perceptual synaesthesia’ has been a focus of attention in research in psychology and neuroscience over the last decades. For subjects in this condition stimulation in one modality automatically and consistently over the subject’s lifespan triggers a percept in another modality. In hearing→colour synaesthesia, for example, a specific sound experience evokes a perception of a specific colour. In this paper, I discuss questions and challenges that the phenomenon of synaesthetic experience raises for theories of perceptual experience (...) in general, and for theories thatsee the content and modality of conscious experience as being constituted and determined by the active and skilful exploration of the environment in particular. The focus of my paper will be on the latter, ‘enactive’ view of perception and its theory of what determines the modality-specific ‘feel’ of a perceptual experience. (shrink)
This chapter offers the beginning of an enactive account of auditory experience—particularly the experience of listening sensitively to music. It investigates how sensorimotor regularities grant perceptual access to music qua music. Two specific claims are defended: (1) music manifests experientially as having complex spatial content; (2) sensorimotor regularities constrain this content. Musical content is thus brought to phenomenal presence by bodily exploring structural features of music. We enact musical content.
This book presents the framework for a new, comprehensive approach to cognitive science. The proposed paradigm, enaction, offers an alternative to cognitive science's classical, first-generation Computational Theory of Mind. _Enaction_, first articulated by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch in _The Embodied Mind_, breaks from CTM's formalisms of information processing and symbolic representations to view cognition as grounded in the sensorimotor dynamics of the interactions between a living organism and its environment. A living organism enacts the world it lives in; its embodied (...) action in the world constitutes its perception and thereby grounds its cognition. _Enaction_ offers a range of perspectives on this exciting new approach to embodied cognitive science. Some chapters offer manifestos for the enaction paradigm; others address specific areas of research, including artificial intelligence, developmental psychology, neuroscience, language, phenomenology, and culture and cognition. Three themes emerge as testimony to the originality and specificity of enaction as a paradigm: the relation between first-person lived experience and third-person natural science; the ambition to provide an encompassing framework applicable at levels from the cell to society; and the difficulties of reflexivity. Taken together, the chapters offer nothing less than the framework for a far-reaching renewal of cognitive science. Contributors: Renaud Barbaras, Didier Bottineau, Giovanna Colombetti, Diego Cosmelli, Hanne De Jaegher, Ezequiel A. Di Paolo. Andreas K. Engel, Olivier Gapenne, Véronique Havelange, Edwin Hutchins, Michel Le Van Quyen, Rafael E. Núñez, Marieke Rohde, Benny Shanon, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Adam Sheya, Linda B. Smith, John Stewart, Evan Thompson. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Towards a PL-Metaphysics of Perception: In Search of the Metaphysical Roots of Constructivism” by Konrad Werner. Upshot: I disclaim the need for a metaphysics for perception, in the sense of a general metaphysics, and suggest that the motivations for embarking on that project can be satisfied in an interesting way without any general metaphysical stock-taking, by appeal to phenomenological and enactive accounts of perception.
With Jan Degenaar and Kevin O’Regan’s (D&O) critique of (what they call) ‘autopoietic enactivism’ as point of departure, this article seeks to revisit, refine, and develop phenomenology’s significance for the enactive view. Arguing that D&O’s ‘sensorimotor theory’ fails to do justice to perceptual meaning, the article unfolds by (1) connecting this meaning to the notion of enaction as a meaningful co-definition of perceiver and perceived, (2) recounting phenomenological reasons for conceiving of the perceiving subject as a living body, and (...) (3) showing how the phenomenological perspective does a better job at fulfilling D&O’s requirement for grounding notions of mentality in ‘outer’ criteria than they do. The picture that thus emerges is one of perceptual meaning as an integration of lived, living, and behavioral aspects – a structure of behavior that cannot be captured by appeal to sensorimotor capacities alone but that is adequately illuminated by the enactive notion of adaptive autonomy. (shrink)
In Mossio & Taraborelli (2008) we challenged the assumption according to which the ecological and sensorimotor approaches are mere conceptual variations on the same enactive theme. We showed, on the contrary, that they endorse substantially different notions of an 'action-dependent perceptual invariant' and we submitted that this distinction has interesting theoretical and empirical implications. This dissimilarity between ecological and sensorimotor theories stems, in our view, from a more fundamental divergence on the nature of perceptual information. Since Gibson's work, the (...) ecological approach has adopted a fundamentally realist stance, according to which this information is 'picked up', 'revealed', 'encountered' and 'exploited' by the organism (as a range of affordances) but not 'constituted' by the activity of the organism. In contrast, sensorimotor approaches take an explicit interactivist position, which sees the perceiver's motor activity as a determinant of perceptual information itself. Pascal & O'Regan (2008) suggest that our analysis of the relationship between ecological, sensorimotor and enactive theories would benefit from a further distinction. The original enactive approach (Varela et al. 1991; Maturana, 2002; Thompson, 2007), they argue, should not be lumped together with contemporary sensorimotor approaches to perception: whereas sensorimotor theories endorse an externalist view of perception, according to which 'perception can only be understood as a form of interaction of the organism with the environment', the original enactive approach by Varela and collaborators would have strong 'idealist underpinnings'. (shrink)
Context: The founding idea of neurophenomenology is that in order to progress in the understanding of the human mind, it is indispensable to integrate a disciplined study of human experience in cognitive neuroscience, an integration which is also presented as a methodological remedy for the “hard problem” of consciousness. Problem: Does neurophenomenology succeed in solving the hard problem? Method: I distinguish two interpretations and implementations of neurophenomenology: a light or “mild” neurophenomenology, which aims at building correlations between first-person descriptions and (...) neural recordings, and tries to evaluate the validity of first-person descriptions through objective criteria; and a deep or radical neurophenomenology, which aims at investigating the process of co-constitution of the subjective and the objective poles, within lived experience, and tries to evaluate first-person descriptions through processual criteria. Results: While mild neurophenomenology does not solve the hard problem, radical neurophenomenology solves it by dissolving it. Exploring the early stages of phenomenal processes such as the emergence of a perception or an idea highlights: a dimension of experience where the separation usually perceived between the subjective and the objective poles vanishes; micro-actions that instant after instant create and support this process of co-constitution, which Varela called “enaction.” This involves on the one hand experiencing concretely the dissolution of the hard problem, and on the other hand verifying the theory of enaction in lived experience. Implications: Radical neurophenomenology is a research programme that enables us to investigate precisely the mutual unfolding of the subjective and objective poles, from its most primitive phases such as perceptual events, to its latest phases such as the co-construction of scientific objectivity and intersubjectivity. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Perception-Action Mutuality Obviates Mental Construction” by Martin Flament Fultot, Lin Nie & Claudia Carello. Upshot: Enactive approaches highlight the deep interdependency of brains, action, agency, and environment in shaping the world we inhabit. This perspective goes beyond input-output models of cognition, postulating instead closed loops of action and perception framed by the agent-environment complementarity. As a unique, dynamical, system, no representational recovery is required for cognitive-behavioral experience to take place.
A widely cited roadblock to bridging ecological psychology and enactivism is that the former identifies with realism and the latter identifies with constructivism, which critics charge is subjectivist. A pragmatic reading, however, suggests non-mental forms of constructivism that simultaneously fit core tenets of enactivism and ecological realism. After advancing a pragmatic version of enactive constructivism that does not obviate realism, I reinforce the position with an empirical illustration: Physarum polycephalum (a slime mold), a communal unicellular organism that leaves slime (...) trails that form chemical barriers that it avoids in foraging explorations. Here, environmental building and sensorimotor engagement are part of the same process with P. polycephalum coordinating around self-created, affordance-bearing geographies, which nonetheless exist independently in ways described by ecological realists. For ecological psychologists, affordances are values, meaning values are external to the perceiver. I argue that agent-enacted values have the same status and thus do not obviate ecological realism or generate subjectivism. The constructivist-realist debate organizes around the emphasis that enactivists and ecological theorists respectively place on the inner constitution of organisms vs. the structure of environments. Building on alimentary themes introduced in the P. polycephalum example and also in Gibson’s work, I go on to consider how environment, brain, visceral systems, and even bacteria within them enter perceptual loops. This highlights almost unfathomable degrees of mutually modulating internal and external synchronization. It also shows instances in which internal conditions alter worldly configurations and invert values, in Gibson’s sense of the term, albeit without implying subjectivism. My aim is to cut across the somatic focus of enactive constructivism and the external environment-oriented emphasis of ecological realism and show that enactivism can enrich ecological accounts of value. (shrink)
Enacting the World of Cinema offers a substantial reconfiguration of the textual roots of modern film narratology. By giving sustained attention to cinema's material-affective modes of communicating its stories and embedding its audience in atmospheric, kinetic, and multisensorial worlds, this book maintains that film narratives are less representations than they are enactments; brought forth through the interactions of the felt body and the film material. The book defends this enactive and media-anthropological thesis by reworking a series of established film (...) narratological key concepts including the diegesis, mood/atmosphere, and the distinction between diegetic and non-diegetic sound. In the process, this book draws on a wide range of contemporary theoretical resources such as affective neuroscience, media-philosophy, philosophy of mind, atmosphere research, multisensory perception theory, as well as a broad selection of films including Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Ruttman, 1927), The Cranes are Flying (Kalatozov, 1957), and Happy as Lazzaro (Rohrwacher, 2018)"--Dust jacket flap. (shrink)
What does it mean to enact a jazz beat as a creative performer? This article offers a critical reading of Iyer’s much-cited theory on rhythmic enaction. We locate the sonic environment approach in Iyer’s theory, and criticize him for advancing a one-to-one relationship between everyday perception and full-fledged aural competence of jazz musicians, and for comparing the latter with non-symbolic behaviour of non-human organisms. As an alternative, we suggest a Merleau-Ponty-inspired concept of rhythmic enaction, which we call the (...) class='Hi'>enactive communicative approach. Key to this approach is the fact that jazz musicians play by ear, and that the beat emerges because of reciprocal, real-time aural communication. From this perspective, we outline the temporality of a jazz beat as a holistic and dialectical temporal structure. Throughout the discussions, we use John Coltrane’s ‘Trane’s Slo Blues’ as a point of reference. (shrink)
Enacting Images is devoted to images as they can mobilize cognition and theorizing. Though we can speak of a pictorial turn now that images have become a distinct and full-fledged topic of investigation, some may continue to cling to the impression that images should still be considered within a fundamentally representationalist framework. As an alternative, the enactive approach provides a conceptual setup within which images, beyond their informational, immersive, and aesthetic power, can be considered as being the manifestations of (...) a new epistemic access to the world. The present volume is a collection of essays that reflectively investigate the theoretical prerequisites, scope, and limits of enactive approach. (shrink)
We propose a new conceptualization of pain by incorporating advancements made by phenomenologists and cognitive scientists. The biomedical understanding of pain is problematic as it inaccurately endorses a linear relationship between noxious stimuli and pain, and is often dualist or reductionist. From a Cartesian dualist perspective, pain occurs in an immaterial mind. From a reductionist perspective, pain is often considered to be “in the brain.” The biopsychosocial conceptualization of pain has been adopted to combat these problematic views. However, when considering (...) pain research advancements, paired with the work of phenomenologists’ and cognitive scientists’ advanced understanding of perception, the biopsychosocial model is inadequate in many ways. The boundaries between the biological, psychological, and social are artificial, and the model is often applied in a fragmented manner. The model has a limited theoretical foundation, resulting in the perpetuation of dualistic and reductionist beliefs. A new framework may serve to better understand and treat pain. In this paper, we conceptualize pain as a 5E process, arguing that it is: Embodied, Embedded, Enacted, Emotive, and Extended. This perspective is applied using back pain as an exemplar and we explore potential clinical applications. With enactivism at the core of this approach, pain does not reside in a mysterious immaterial mind, nor is it an entity to be found in the blood, brain, or other bodily tissues. Instead, pain is a relational and emergent process of sense-making through a lived body that is inseparable from the world that we shape and that shapes us. (shrink)
This paper presents pretending as an enacted and fundamentally social activity. First, it demonstrates why we should think of pretense as inherently social. Then, it shows how that fact affects our theory in terms of what is needed in order to pretend. Standardly, pretense is seen as requiring a mechanism that allows one to bypass the “obvious” re- sponse to the environment in order to opt for a symbolic response; that mechanism is im- aginative and representational. This paper shows that (...) the Enactive Account of Pretense reconsiders the idea that one needs to respond to an absent environment when pretending, proposing instead that socially con- stituted perceptual affordances for play allow for non-obvious ways of responding to the present environment. The enactive account of pretense suggests that one need not posit special cognitive pretense mechanisms and mental scripts in order to account for pretend- ing, as available capacities for active perception and re-enactment of routines suffice. This paper concludes with suggestions for the kinds of cognitive skills that should be sought out to explain pretense. (shrink)
Cognitive science-informed approaches have gained considerable influence in education in the UK and internationally, but not much is known about how teachers perceive cognitive science-informed strategies or enact them within the contexts of their everyday classrooms. In this paper, we discuss the perceptions and experiences of cognitive science-informed strategies of 13 teachers in England. The paper critically explores how the teachers understood and used cognitive science-informed strategies in their teaching, their views of the benefits and challenges for different subjects and (...) groups of learners, and their reflections on supporting factors and barriers for adopting the strategies in their schools. The teachers’ accounts illustrate some of the many complexities of adopting cognitive science-informed approaches in real-life educational settings. Drawing on their narratives, the paper emphasises the importance of acknowledging different contextual dimensions and the dynamic interactions between them to understand when and how teachers enact cognitive science-informed approaches in their classrooms. (shrink)
In this paper, I present the enactive theory of color that implies a form of color relationism. I argue that this view constitutes a better alternative to color subjectivism and color objectivism. I liken the enactive view to Husserl’s phenomenology of perception, arguing that both deconstruct the clear duality of subject and object, which is at the basis of the other theories of color, in order to claim the co-constitution of subject and object in the process of (...) experience. I also extend the enactive and phenomenological account of color to the more general topic of the epistemological and ontological status of sensory qualities (qualia), outlining the fields of enactive phenomenology and enactive ontology. (shrink)
The “patient perspective” serves as an analytical tool to present patients as knowing subjects in research, rather than as objects known by medicine. This paper analyses problems encountered with the concept of the patient perspective as applied to long-term mental health care. One problem is that “having a perspective” requires a perception of oneself as an individual and the ability to represent one’s individual situation in language; this excludes from research patients who do not express themselves verbally. Another problem (...) is that the idea of “talk” as a representation of the world ignores the fact that talk is also performative in the world: it requires, at least, the ability to deal with an interview situation. To think up alternative ways of including patients as subjects in research, I develop an approach that takes this performativity as a starting point. Analysing practical situations and activities, I argue that patients enact appreciations, making known what they like or dislike by verbal or non-verbal means in a given material environment, in situations that are co-produced by others. Thus, subjectivity is linked to situations and interactions, rather than just to individual characteristics; to “patient positions,” rather than “patient perspectives.”. (shrink)
The embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended approaches to cognition explicate many important details for a phenomenology of perception, and are consistent with some of the traditional phenomenological analyses. Theorists working in these areas, however, often fail to provide an account of how intersubjectivity might relate to perception. This paper suggests some ways in which intersubjectivity is important for an adequate account of perception.
Context: The dominant approach to the study of perception is representational/computational, with an emphasis on the achievements of the brain and the nervous system, which are taken to construct internal models of the world. Alternatives include ecological, embedded, embodied, and enactivist approaches, all of which emphasize the centrality of action in understanding perception. Problem: Despite sharing many theoretical commitments that lead to a rejection of the classical approach, the alternatives are characterized by important contrasts and points of divergence. (...) Here we focus on the enactive and ecological approaches, in particular, on how they construe the status of the environment and the content of perception. Method: We begin with a review of James Gibson’s ecological psychology, highlighting it as a psychology for all organisms not just humans. Against this backdrop, we consider enactivist arguments against direct perception - a central assertion of the ecological approach - and in favor of interpreting the activity of perceptual agents as a kind of construction of a perceptually meaningful world. Results: We assess the merits of this interpretation and we conclude that it cannot be grounded on fundamental principles such as thermodynamics and organism-environment mutuality. Implications: As a consequence, enactivism remains close to representationalism and entails a form of dualism. Constructivist content: We advance a criticism of the constructivist foundations of the enactive approach to perception. Perception-action mutuality at the heart of enactivism does not require mental construction; indeed, perception-action mutuality obviates construction. (shrink)
This paper aims to show that genders are enacted, by providing an account of how an individual can be said to enact a gender and explaining how, consequently, genders can be fluid. On the enactive-ecological view we defend, individuals first and foremost perceive the world as fields of affordances, that is, structured sets of action possibilities. Fields of natural affordances offer action possibilities because of the natural properties of organisms and environments. Handles offer graspability to humans because of physical-structural (...) properties of handles and the anatomical-physiological properties of humans. Although humans live in fields of bodily, action, and cultural affordances, our work focuses on cultural affordances, where action possibilities are offered to individuals because of the normative responses of individuals in that culture. Knocking on a door affords entrance because knocking provides cultured individuals on the other side of the door an affordance to which they themselves behave normatively. Usually, behaving normatively in response to cultural affordances brings about sequences of perception-action loops, which we will call “scripts”: for instance, closed doors afford knocking, which affords the individual inside opening the door, which affords an interpersonal meeting, which afford entrance. Although the notion of script has a strong cognitivist flavor, one of the aims of the paper to provide an ecological account of scripts, to show that what cognitivists viewed as representations are in fact environmentally structured perception-action loops. On our account of gender, gendered cultures build and maintain gendered cultural affordance landscapes, that is, landscapes in which the action possibilities individuals face are normed according to a specific body type or situation; most often biological sex. Individuals enact a given gender when they come to perceive the affordances reserved for one gender by their culture and respond in the culturally normative way, thus enacting gendered sequences of perception-action loops. With the shifting landscapes of cultural affordances brought about by several recent social, technological, and epistemic developments in some cultures, the gendered landscapes of affordances offered to individuals in these cultures have become more varied and less rigid, thus increasing the variety and flexibility of scripts individuals can enact. This entails that individuals in such cultures have an increased possibility for gender fluidity, which may in part explain the increasing number of people currently identifying outside the binary. (shrink)
Enaction, as put forward by Varela and defended by other thinkers (notably Alva Noë, 2004; Susan Hurley, 2006; and Kevin O’Regan, 1992), departs from traditional accounts that treat mental processes (like perception, reasoning, and action) as discrete, independent processes that are causally related in a sequen- tial fashion. According to the main claim of the enactive approach, which Thompson seems to fully endorse, perceptual awareness is taken to be a skill-based activity. Our perceptual contact with the world, according (...) to the enactionists, is not mediated by representations but is enacted, and the notion of representation, belonging to the classic computational paradigm, has no place in this alternative approach. Though Thompson does not pronounce directly on the issue of representationalism, he is most definitely keeping the company of anti-representationalists, and in that context it is not unreasonable to take his silence for consent. In this paper, we will argue that the enactive approach to imagery is unworkable unless it makes appeal to representations, understood in a particular way. Not understood as pictures, to be sure. Or sentences for that matter. But those aren’t the only options. (shrink)
The concept of the receptive field, first articulated by Hartline, is central to visual neuroscience. The receptive field of a neuron encompasses the spatial and temporal properties of stimuli that activate the neuron, and, as Hubel and Wiesel conceived of it, a neuron’s receptive field is static. This makes it possible to build models of neural circuits and to build up more complex receptive fields out of simpler ones. Recent work in visual neurophysiology is providing evidence that the classical receptive (...) field is an inaccurate picture. The receptive field seems to be a dynamic feature of the neuron. In particular, the receptive field of neurons in V1 seems to be dependent on the properties of the stimulus. In this paper, we review the history of the concept of the receptive field and the problematic data. We then consider a number of possible theoretical responses to these data. (shrink)
Abstract The paper considers the success of enactive realism about perception; the theory that perceivers gain direct access to the mind-independent physical world through their exercise of sensorimotor skills and understanding. I argue that while it is plausible that the possession of some forms of knowledge, conceptual or practical, may enable perceptual contact with the environment, the role of sensorimotor mastery is not as pervasive as the enactive realist proposes. Non-veridical perception, furthermore, cannot be captured adequately (...) by enactivist resources under a disjunctivist framework. (shrink)
Embodied cognition is an interpretative—or hermeneutical—cognition inherent in motor-sensory perception intrinsically informed by biological and sociocultural memory, a cognition embedded in the organism as well as the socio-cultural environment interacting with it, of which technologies are a part. Yet, smart machines are advancing on human abilities to perceive and interpret concerning the accuracy, quantity, and quality of the data processed. Machines process and categorize images, perform classification tasks, they calculate and perform pattern analysis, all machine learning processes are task-specific. (...) Machine learning processes resemble human interpretative processes; however, these are two very different ways of “dealing with something,” although both can be said to be hermeneutical, one enactive, the other material; the first is a meaning-generating interpretative process, the second a statistics-based information output. The information extracted from all the data fed into the computer is the end-product of machine learning, whereas human interpretative enactments are continuous and necessary for any application of the information output. (shrink)
Non-representational approaches to cognition have struggled to provide accounts of long-term planning that forgo the use of representations. An explanation comes easier for cognitivist accounts, which hold that we concoct and use contentful mental representations as guides to coordinate a series of actions towards an end state. One non-representational approach, ecological-enactivism, has recently seen several proposals that account for “high-level” or “representation-hungry” capacities, including long-term planning and action coordination. In this paper, we demonstrate the explanatory gap in these accounts that (...) stems from avoiding the incorporation of long-term intentions, as they play an important role both in action coordination and perception on the ecological account. Using recent enactive accounts of language, we argue for a non-representational conception of intentions, their formation, and their role in coordinating pre-reflective action. We provide an account for the coordination of our present actions towards a distant goal, a skill we call distal engagement. Rather than positing intentions as an actual cognitive entity in need of explanation, we argue that we take them up in this way as a practice due to linguistically scaffolded attitudes towards language use. (shrink)
Context: Direct realism is a non-reductive, anti-representationalist theory of perception lying at the heart of mainstream analytic philosophy, where it is currently generating a lot of interest. For all that, it is widely held to be both controversial and anti-scientific. On the other hand, the sensorimotor theory of perception initially generated a lot of interest within enactive philosophy of cognitive science, but has arguably not yet delivered on its initial promise. Problem: I aim to show that the (...) sensorimotor theory and direct realism complement each other, and that the result is a philosophically radical, but fully scientifically realised, theory of perception. Method: The article uses philosophical analysis and discussion. It also draws on empirical evidence from the relevant cognitive sciences. Results: Direct realism can be augmented by sensorimotor theory to become a scientifically tractable alternative to the mainstream, representationalist research programme within cognitive science. Implications: The article aims to further clarify the philosophical importance of the sensorimotor approach to perception. It also aims to show that the apparently radical claim that we perceive objects themselves is amenable to normal scientific study. Constructivist content: Objects are analysed as a kind of collaboration between the world and the perceiver. On this account, we can never perceive outside the categories of our own understanding, but we do perceive genuinely outside our own heads. Thus, the approach here is not exactly constructivism, though it shares many goals and results with constructivism. (shrink)
In the decade and a half since the appearance of Varela, Thompson and Rosch's workThe Embodied Mind,enactivism has helped to put experience and consciousness, conceived of in a distinctive way, at the forefront of cognitive science. There are at least two major strands within the enactive perspective: a broad view of what it is to be an agent with a mind; and a more focused account of the nature of perception and perceptual experience. The relation between these two (...) strands is discussed, with an overview of the papers presented in this volume. (shrink)
The sensorimotor approach to perception addresses various aspects of perceptual experience, but not the subjectivity of intentional action. Conversely, the problem that current accounts of the sense of agency deal with is primarily one of subjectivity. But the proposed models, based on internal signal comparisons, arguably fail to make the transition from subpersonal computations to personal experience. In this paper we suggest an alternative direction towards explaining the sense of agency by braiding three theoretical strands: a world-involving, dynamical interpretation (...) of the sensorimotor approach, an enactive description of sensorimotor agency as contrasted with organic agency in general, and a dynamical theory of equilibration within and between sensorimotor schemes. On this new account, the sense of oneself as the author of one’s own actions corresponds to what we experience during the ongoing adventure of establishing, losing, and re-establishing meaningful interactions with the world. The meaningful relation between agent and world is given by the precarious constitution of sensorimotor agency as a self-asserting network of schemes and dispositions. Acts are owned as they adaptively assert the constitution of the agent. Thus, awareness for different aspects of agency experience, such as the initiation of action, the effort exerted in controlling it, or the achievement of the desired effect, can be accounted for by processes involved in maintaining the sensorimotor organization that enables these interactions with the world. We discuss these processes in detail from a non-representational, dynamical perspective and show how they cohere with the personal experience of agency. (shrink)
A theory of the structure and cognitive function of the human imagination that attempts to do justice to traditional intuitions about its psychological centrality is developed, largely through a detailed critique of the theory propounded by Colin McGinn. Like McGinn, I eschew the highly deflationary views of imagination, common amongst analytical philosophers, that treat it either as a conceptually incoherent notion, or as psychologically trivial. However, McGinn fails to develop his alternative account satisfactorily because (following Reid, Wittgenstein and Sartre) he (...) draws an excessively sharp, qualitative distinction between imagination and perception, and because of his flawed, empirically ungrounded conception of hallucination. His arguments in defense of these views are rebutted in detail, and the traditional, passive, Cartesian view of visual perception, upon which several of them implicitly rely, is criticized in the light of findings from recent cognitive science and neuroscience. It is also argued that the apparent intuitiveness of the passive view of visual perception is a result of mere historical contingency. An understanding of perception (informed by modern visual science) as an inherently active process enables us to unify our accounts of perception, mental imagery, dreaming, hallucination, creativity, and other aspects of imagination within a single coherent theoretical framework. (shrink)
Dance as a complex human activity is a rich test case for exploring perception in action. In this article, we explore a 4E approach to perception/action in dance, focussing on the intersubjective and ecological aspects of kinaesthetic attunement and their capacity to expand empathic and perceptive experience. We examine the question: what are the ways in which the performance ecology co-created in different dance practices influences empathic and perceptive experience? We adopt an enactive ethnographic and phenomenological approach (...) to explore two distinct dance forms: Contact Improvisation [CI], a duet-system based practice aimed at fostering interkinaesthetic awareness and challenging habits of movement; and Body Weather [BW], an anti-hierarchical movement practice sensitive to the surrounding environment. We argue that through intersubjective kinaesthetic attunement, CI scaffolds the development of perceptive awareness of subtle shifts within ourselves and others, allowing the cultivation of a capacity for flexibly traversing between conscious initiation of action, attuned responding, and the intersection between them. Similarly, we investigate the expansion of perceptive experience through kinaesthetic attunement in BW. We suggest that the capacity for empathy is enhanced in BW through drawing attention to, and perception of, the fullness of a place in a way that we do not typically experience. By focussing on the variations in which embodied perceptual skills are enacted in specific dance forms and the expansion of perceptive experience through kinaesthetic attunement, we stress the potential of the performing arts to cultivate and create new ways of empathic engagement with the world in which we find ourselves. (shrink)