, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 393–407 | Cite as

Sensorimotor Theory and Enactivism

  • Jan DegenaarEmail author
  • J. Kevin O’Regan


The sensorimotor theory of perceptual consciousness offers a form of enactivism in that it stresses patterns of interaction instead of any alleged internal representations of the environment. But how does it relate to forms of enactivism stressing the continuity between life and mind (and more particularly autopoiesis, autonomy, and valence)? We shall distinguish sensorimotor enactivism, which stresses perceptual capacities themselves, from autopoietic enactivism, which claims an essential connection between experience and autopoietic processes or associated background capacities. We show how autopoiesis, autonomous agency, and affective dimensions of experience may fit into sensorimotor enactivism, and we identify differences between this interpretation and autopoietic enactivism. By taking artificial consciousness as a case in point, we further sharpen the distinction between sensorimotor enactivism and autopoietic enactivism. We argue that sensorimotor enactivism forms a strong default position for an enactive account of perceptual consciousness.


Consciousness Sensorimotor theory Enactivism Autopoiesis Artificial consciousness 



We thank Sanneke de Haan, Erik Myin, David Silverman and the audience at the 2014 AISB conference at Goldsmiths, University of London for helpful discussions and critique on an earlier version of this paper. We further thank our anonymous reviewers for their excellent comments and suggestions. The work was supported by ERC advanced Grant 323674 “FEEL” of J. Kevin O’Regan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Psychologie de la PerceptionUniversité Paris DescartesParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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