Can the mind be embodied, enactive, affective, and extended?
- 301 Downloads
In recent years, a growing number of thinkers have begun to challenge the long-held view that the mind is neurally realized. One strand of critique comes from work on extended cognition, a second comes from research on embodied cognition, and a third comes from enactivism. I argue that theorists who embrace the claim that the mind is fully embodied and enactive cannot consistently also embrace the extended mind thesis. This is because once one takes seriously the central tenets of enactivism, it becomes implausible to suppose that life, affectivity, and sense-making can extend. According to enactivism, the entities that enact a world of meaning are autonomous, embodied agents with a concerned point of view. Such agents are spatially situated, differentiated from the environment, and intentionally directed towards things that lie at a distance. While the extended mind thesis blurs the distinction between organism and environment, the central tenets of enactivism emphasize differentiations between the two. In addition, enactivism emphasizes that minded organisms are enduring subjects of action and experience, and thus it is implausible to suppose that they transform into a new form of life whenever they become intimately coupled to some new element in their environment. The proponent of enactivism and embodied cognition should acknowledge that life and affectivity are relational and environmentally embedded, but resist the further claim that these phenomena are extended.
KeywordsEmbodied cognition Extended mind Extended life Extended affectivity Enactivism
Thanks to Julian Kiverstein and two anonymous referees for their very helpful feedback.
- Adams, A., & Aizawa, K. (2009). Why the mind is still in the head. In M. Aydede & P. Robbins (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of situated cognition (pp. 78–95). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Arnellos, A., et al. (2009). Towards the naturalization of agency based on an interactivist account of autonomy. New Ideas in Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.newideapsych.2009.09.005.
- Barbaras, R. (2010). Life and exteriority: The problem of metabolism. In J. Stewart, O. Gapenne, & E. Di Paolo (Eds.), Enaction: Towards a new paradigm for cognitive science. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Buhrmann, T., & Di Paolo, E. (2015). The sense of agency—A phenomenological consequence of enacting sensorimotor schemes. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. doi: 10.1007/s11097-015-9446-7.
- Colombetti, G. (2015). Enactive affectivity, extended. Topoi, 1–11.Google Scholar
- De Preester H. (2008). On corporeal prostheses as an essential human characteristic. Presented at ESPRA 2: subjectivity and the body, 29 January–1 February 2008, Copenhagen. http://espra.risc.cnrs.fr/ESPRA2Home.htm.
- Gallagher, S. (2005). How the body shapes the mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Gibson, J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Hanna, R., & Maiese, M. (2009). Embodied minds in action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Jonas, H. (1966). The phenomenon of life: Toward a philosophical biology. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.Google Scholar
- Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). Phenomenology of perception (smith, C. Trans.) London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- O’Regan, J.K., & Noë, A. (2001). A sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 939–1041.Google Scholar
- Shapiro, L. (2001). Embodied cognition. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Shapiro, L. (2004). The mind incarnate. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Slaby, J. (2014). Emotions and the extended mind. Collective emotions, 32–46.Google Scholar
- Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of the mind. Cambridge: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
- Thompson, E., & Varela, F. (2001). Radical embodiment: Neural dynamics and consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5(10), 418–425.Google Scholar
- Thompson, T. (2011). Reply to commentaries. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18(5–6), 176–223.Google Scholar
- Wheeler, M. (2010). Minds, things and materiality. In L. Malafouris & C. Renfrew (Eds.), The cognitive life of things: Recasting the boundaries of the mind (pp. 29–37). Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Publications.Google Scholar