CALL FOR PAPERS. Special Issue of the Journal Synthese: RADICAL VIEWS ON COGNITION

Guest Editor(s): Marcos Silva (Federal University of Alagoas) and Francicleber Ferreira
(Federal University of Ceará)

Special Issue Description:

Several contemporary philosophers have been developing tenets in pragmatism (broadly construed) to motivate it as an alternative philosophical foundation for a comprehensive understanding of cognition, opposed to a far-reaching representationalist tradition.
This long-established representationalist tradition in philosophy of mind and cognitive science defends that cognition is fundamentally content-involving. On the other side, some radical contenders advocate that cognition is neither basically representational nor does it involve, as in usual internalist views, processing or manipulating informational contents. They call attention to the importance of inherited and embodied practices and social interactions in order to understand relevant topics in perception, language and the nature of intentionality. They take seriously evolving biological systems and situated individuals interacting in communities over time as preconditions of our rationality, features often dismissed as not central in the representationalist and internalist tradition.



ENSO Seminar Series: Dan D. Hutto. Beyond Content: Explications, Motivations and Implications

Beyond Content: Explications, Motivations and Implications

Dan D. Hutto

University of Wollongong
April 4, 2018, 11 p.m. UTC // April 4, 2018, 6 p.m. in America/Mexico_City

Radically Enactive Cognition, or REC, proposes that cognition is best modelled on the activities of living systems. It construes cognition as fundamentally interactive, dynamic and relational. Controversially, REC also holds that in its most basic form cognition is not content-involving: it is neither representational at root, nor does it involve picking up and processing informational contents that are used, stored and reused to get cognitive work done. This presentation situates our evolving account of REC within the wider theoretical landscape. It will: (1) clarify how REC understands the thesis that basic cognition lacks content; (2) review reasons that motivate adopting that thesis, so construed; and (3) outline the theoretical consequences of such adoption, including some of the questions and new lines of research it inspires.

Event page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_UHKnwJf0

Enactivism: Theory and Performance

15-17 March 2018
Department of Philosophy, University of Memphis

Enactivism continues to be developed as a theory of embodied cognition, informed by phenomenology, pragmatism, and ecological psychology. Recent work in this area has fostered theory development and applications across a number of disciplines and topics. This conference will explore theoretical issues concerning enactivist notions of intentionality, action, externalism, the causal or constitutive roles of affect and affordance, predictive coding, and niche construction with respect to consciousness and cognition. An associated workshop will explore application to the area of musical performance.

This conference and workshop are supported by the Humboldt Foundation’s Anneliese Maier Research Award. Further support: Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Philosophy at the University of Memphis; the Cognitive Science Program at the Institute for Intelligent Systems, University of Memphis; and the Australian Research Council’s Minds in Skilled Performance project at the University of Wollongong.




The new season of the ENactive Seminars Online (ENSO) will start on Thursday Sept. 7, at 10 a.m. UTC, with a presentation from Miriam Kyselo on Diversity and the Minimal Self. The abstract and other details for the event, including links for viewing the talk and a forum for discussion can all be found here.
If you are interested in participating in the live session, please send an email to Matthew Egbert <matthew.egbert@gmail.com> before or during the event. He will respond by sending a link that you can follow to participate. For this link to work, you will need to have the browser plugin for google hangouts.

Reading group for “Evolving Enactivism”

9780262036115In the next couple of weeks our research group will start reading Hutto and Myin’s new book Evolving Enactivism: Basic Minds Meet Content. Here is the book’s overview from the MIT Press website:

Evolving Enactivism argues that cognitive phenomena—perceiving, imagining, remembering—can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. Building on their earlier book Radicalizing Enactivism, which proposes that there can be forms of cognition without content, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin demonstrate the unique explanatory advantages of recognizing that only some forms of cognition have content while others—the most elementary ones—do not. They offer an account of the mind in duplex terms, proposing a complex vision of mentality in which these basic contentless forms of cognition interact with content-involving ones.

Hutto and Myin argue that the most basic forms of cognition do not, contrary to a currently popular account of cognition, involve picking up and processing information that is then used, reused, stored, and represented in the brain. Rather, basic cognition is contentless—fundamentally interactive, dynamic, and relational. In advancing the case for a radically enactive account of cognition, Hutto and Myin propose crucial adjustments to our concept of cognition and offer theoretical support for their revolutionary rethinking, emphasizing its capacity to explain basic minds in naturalistic terms. They demonstrate the explanatory power of the duplex vision of cognition, showing how it offers powerful means for understanding quintessential cognitive phenomena without introducing scientifically intractable mysteries into the mix.

CFP: LangEnact II


25 September – 27 September 2017

Call deadline: 28 April 2017

By Stephen J. Cowley, University of Southern Denmark (cowley@sdu.dk) 

The Centre for Human Interactivity invites you to contribute to LangEnact II, Meaning Without Representation: Grounding Language in Sensorimotor Coordination to take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 25-27 September, 2017 at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Radical embodied approaches to language offer an alternative to neurocentric alternatives. They are inspired, on the one hand, by Wittgenstein’s focus on communities and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of the body. On the other, they build on how Hutchins and Kirsh opened the way to studying cognition beyond the brain. Accordingly, meaning – and, in human forms of life, language – are taken to derive from what Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana call the enactment of a world and a mind:

“(…) cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind on the basis of a history of the variety of actions that a being in the world performs” (Varela, Thompson, Rosch, The Embodied Mind, MIT Press, p. 9).

Until recently, those rejecting computational views have tended to neglect language. In putting this to rights, we address “meaning without representation” by asking how language can be, on the one hand, an effective means of interpersonal coordination and, on the other, grounded in individual bodies that bring forth an encultured and lived world. The conference places this question at the confluence of two traditions: while enactive linguistics makes embodiment central to rethinking French theories of ‘enunciation’ and the nature of langues (language-systems), the distributed-ecological perspective builds on cognitive science by tracing language, not to verbal patterns, but to how people coordinate bodily movement as they make their way in a (partly) common world.  (more…)

Seminar on enactivism and autopoiesis

This online seminar should be of interest to members of our group…
Dear ENSO Community,
It is my pleasure to kick off the 2017 year of ENSO Seminars with a talk by Mario Villalobos entitled Radical enactivism and autopoietic theory of cognition: Prospects for a full revolution in cognitive science. The abstract and other details of the talk can be found on the ENSO Seminar page for the event.
This will be the 13th Seminar in our series, taking place on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, 8 p.m. UTC. (You can have this time automagically translated into your local time by visiting the aforementioned ENSO Seminar page.)
If you are interested in participating in the live session, please send me an email before or during the event and I will respond by sending you a link that you can follow to participate. For this link to work, you will need to have the browser plugin for google hangouts.
After this talk has been delivered, we will have had talks from nine different countries: Ireland, USA, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Amsterdam, and Chile!
We are currently looking for volunteers for talks in March and later in the year. Please consider giving a talk — especially if you are hailing from a country that has not yet been represented!
I hope to see you there!
All the best,
Matthew & Marek

Spring school on enactive perception

The research centres CRESA and PERSONA of the Faculty of Philosophy at San Raffaele University, Milan, organize the International Conference and Spring School:

Perception and Aesthetic Experience: Starting from Noe’s Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature

San Raffaele Spring School of Philosophy 2017 (SRSSP 2017)

Milan, May 22nd – 24th, 2017

What is art? Why does it matter to us? What does it tell us about ourselves?

In his book Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature (Hill and Wang, New York, 2015), the philosopher Alva Noë tries to answer these questions by proposing a philosophical theory that investigates the artistic practice and the aesthetic experience in relation to many other human activities. Noë’s main idea is that the artistic practice is a re-organizational practice by means of which we put on display and investigate several organizational activities of ours, such as dancing or making pictures. Investigating our practices, art investigates ourselves too.

“Works of art put our making practices and our tendency to rely on what we make, and so also our practices of thinking and talking and making pictures, on display. Art puts us on display. Art unveils us to ourselves” (Noë 2015, 101).

However, Strange Tools is not just a book on art and artistic practice. Indeed, dealing with these topics, the author addresses also some of the main topics of his previous production: the nature of perception and the enactive proposal, the nature of pictures and representations, the extended thesis about our minds and cognitive processes, the place of neurosciences in the study of the mind, and so on.

We invite submissions by graduate and PhD students, as well as Postdocs and Experienced Researchers, on any of the topics addressed by Alva Noë’s Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature, as well as on any related topics addressed by the author in his previous works. Submissions on aesthetics and perception from other perspectives (e.g. theories different from Noë’s one) are also very welcome.

Possible questions to investigate include (but are not limited to):

– What is perception? Can the enactive model be a good one to describe and explain how we perceive?

– Is the Extended Mind Thesis a tenable one? Should we think of a necessary limitation of such an extension?

– What is the nature of pictures and representations?

– What is art? How can we define the artistic practice and the works of art? Is Noë’s position on these topics embraceable?

– Can a neuro-aesthetic approach appropriately explain the aesthetic experience? In the negative case, should it be combined with other approaches or should it be completely rejected?

Keynote Speaker

Alva Noë (University of California, Berkeley)

Confirmed Invited Speakers

Clotilde Calabi (University of Milan)

Vittorio Gallese (University of Parma)

Bence Nanay (University of Antwerp)

Marco Tettamanti (San Raffaele Scientific Institute)

Alberto Voltolini (University of Turin)

More details and the call for papers