enactivism

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

CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS: LANGENACT II. GROUNDING LANGUAGE IN SENSORIMOTOR COORDINATION 

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

Course on the new cognitive science

Agentes autónomos, sistemas sociales, y la nueva ciencia cognitiva

(Alternative title: Agentes autónomos y multiagentes)

Tutor: Tom Froese

This course will introduce ongoing debates in cognitive science about our changing understanding of the mind. Instead of being thought of as a digital computer inside the brain, mind is now widely considered to be an embodied, embedded and extended activity in the world. These ideas will be illustrated based on case studies of research in agent-based models and human-computer interfaces, with special emphasis on demonstrating how social interactions and technologies shape our mind. Students are not expected to program models nor to design interfaces, but to understand the implications of the new cognitive science and to apply them to their own research interests.

The course will be taught mainly in English to better prepare students for the special terms used by leading researchers in cognitive science.

The course starts on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Please consult the course website for more details.

Here is a video that introduces key topics of this course:

Special issue on the enactive approach

THE ENACTIVE APPROACH TO QUALITATIVE ONTOLOGY: IN SEARCH OF NEW CATEGORIES


edited by

Roberta Lanfredini
Nicola Liberati
Andrea Pace Giannotta
Elena Pagni

ISSUE 31 – DECEMBER 2016

This Special Issue is dedicated to building a bridge between different disciplines concerned in the investigation of the qualitative dimension of experience and reality. The two main objectives of the Issue can be summarized as follows:

  • to elucidate the need for a revision of categories to account for the qualitative dimension in various disciplines (that include, for example, the cognitive sciences, neurosciences, biology, linguistics, informatics, artificial intelligence, robotics, newly emerging computer technologies) in order to develop an ontology that can better account for the qualitative, dynamic and relational aspects of different domains of reality;
  • to explore the implications of the enactivist view for a relational and ecological account of the qualitative dimensions of life and cognition;