Publication 7301

Hovhannisyan G. & Vervaeke J. (2021) Enactivist big five theory. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online first. Fulltext at
The distinguishing feature of enactivist cognitive science is arguably its commitment to non-reductionism and its philosophical allegiance to first-person approaches, like phenomenology. The guiding theme of this article is that a theoretically mature enactivism is bound to be humanistic in its articulation, and only by becoming more humanistic can enactivism more fully embody the non-reductionist spirit that lay at its foundation. Our explanatory task is thus to bring forth such an articulation by advancing an enactivist theory of human personality. To this end, we synthesize core concepts from cognitive science, personality theory, and phenomenological philosophy in order to develop an Enactivist Big-5 Theory (EB5T) of personality. According to EB5T, personality traits are dispositional tendencies for how we come to optimally grip our distinctly human worlds. Individual differences in personality are therefore reflective of stylistic differences in optimal gripping tendencies between human beings. EB5T affords a non-reductionist understanding of the immanent teleology of the autopoietically embodied human mind as a kind of full-scale optimal gripping process that is achieved along five major dimensions of personality. To the degree that these dimensions are universal, therefore, we argue that our theory offers a viable path forward in advancing enactivist cognitive science beyond the life of a cell and into the mind of a person, a longstanding hope and ambition held by proponents of the enactive approach.

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