Ackermann E. K. (2004) Constructing knowledge and transforming the world. In: Tokoro M. & Steels L. (eds.) A learning zone of one’s own: Sharing representations and flow in collaborative learning. IOS Press, Amsterdam: 15–37. https://cepa.info/3894
The first part of this paper examines the differences between Piaget’s constructivism, what Papert refers to as“constructionism,” and the socio-constructivist approach as portrayed by Vygotsky. All these views are developmental, and they share the notion that people actively contribute to the construction of their knowledge, by transforming their world. Yet the views also differ, each highlighting on some aspects of how children learn and grow, while leaving other questions unanswered. Attempts at integrating these views [learning through experience, through media, and through others] helps shed light on how people of different ages and venues come to make sense of their experience, and find their place – and voice – in the world. Tools, media, and cutural artifacts are the tangible forms, or mediational means, through which we make sense of our world and negociate meaning with others. In the second part of this paper, I speak to the articulations between make-believe activities and creative symbol-use as a guiding connection to rethink the aims of representations. Simulacrum and simulation, I show, play a key role besides language in helping children ground and mediate their experience in new ways. From computer-based microworlds for constructive learning (Papert’s turtle geometry, TERC’s body-syntonic graphing), to social virtual environments (MUDing). In each case, I discuss the roles of symbolic recreation, and imaginary projection (people’s abilities to build and dwell in their creations) as two powerful heuristic to keep in touch with situations, to bring what’s unknown to mind’s reach, and to explore risky ideas on safe grounds. I draw implications for education.
Adams F. & Aizawa K. (2001) The bounds of cognition. Philosophical Psychology 14(1): 43–64. https://cepa.info/6680
Recent work in cognitive science has suggested that there are actual cases in which cognitive processes extend in the physical world beyond the bounds of the brain and the body. We argue that, while transcranial cognition may be both a logical and a nomological possibility, no case has been made for its current existence. In other words, we defend a form of contingent intracranialism about the cognitive.
Agostini E. & Francesconi D. (2021) Introduction to the special issue “embodied cognition and education”. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20: 417–422. https://cepa.info/8144
This special issue focuses on the theoretical, empirical and practical integrations between embodied cognition theory (EC) and educational science. The key question is: Can EC constitute a new theoretical framework for educational science and practice? The papers of the special issue support the efforts of those interested in the role of EC in education and in the epistemological convergence of EC and educational science. They deal with a variety of relevant topics in education and offer a focus on the role of the body and embodied experience in learning and educational settings. In conclusion, some further topics are suggested that will need to be investigated in the future, such as a critical evaluation of the possibility for an epistemological alliance between educational theory and embodied cognition, and the contribution that enactive cognition can provide to educational systems, organizations, institutions and policies.
Excerpt: This brief chapter will focus on two types of arguments for extended cognition inspired by Clark and Chalmers (1998). First, there has been the thought that cognition extends when processes in the brain, body, and world are suitably similar to processes taking place in the brain. We might describe these as cognitive equivalence arguments for extended cognition. Second, there has been the thought that, when there is the right kind of causal connection between a cognitive process and bodily and environmental processes, cognitive processes come to be realized by processes in the brain, body, and world. We might describe these as coupling arguments for extended cognition. What critics have found problematic are the kinds of similarity relations that have been taken to be applicable or suitable for concluding that there is extended cognition and the conditions that have been offered as providing the right kind of causal connection.
Alexandre F. (2017) How to Understand Brain-Body-Environment Interactions? Toward a Systemic Representationalism. Constructivist Foundations 13(1): 130–131. https://cepa.info/4415
Open peer commentary on the article “Missing Colors: The Enactivist Approach to Perception” by Adrián G. Palacios, María-José Escobar & Esteban Céspedes. Upshot: The target article discusses the influence of the enactivist account of perception in computer science, beyond subjectivism and objectivism. I suggest going one step further and introduce our VirtualEnaction platform, proposing a federative systemic view for brain-body-environment interaction for this analysis.
Allen M. & Friston K. (2018) From cognitivism to autopoiesis: Towards a computational framework for the embodied mind. Synthese 195(6): 2459–2482. https://cepa.info/4099
Predictive processing (PP) approaches to the mind are increasingly popular in the cognitive sciences. This surge of interest is accompanied by a proliferation of philosophical arguments, which seek to either extend or oppose various aspects of the emerging framework. In particular, the question of how to position predictive processing with respect to enactive and embodied cognition has become a topic of intense debate. While these arguments are certainly of valuable scientific and philosophical merit, they risk underestimating the variety of approaches gathered under the predictive label. Here, we first present a basic review of neuroscientific, cognitive, and philosophical approaches to PP, to illustrate how these range from solidly cognitivist applications – with a firm commitment to modular, internalistic mental representation – to more moderate views emphasizing the importance of ‘body-representations’, and finally to those which fit comfortably with radically enactive, embodied, and dynamic theories of mind. Any nascent predictive processing theory (e.g., of attention or consciousness) must take into account this continuum of views, and associated theoretical commitments. As a final point, we illustrate how the Free Energy Principle (FEP) attempts to dissolve tension between internalist and externalist accounts of cognition, by providing a formal synthetic account of how internal ‘representations’ arise from autopoietic self-organization. The FEP thus furnishes empirically productive process theories (e.g., predictive processing) by which to guide discovery through the formal modelling of the embodied mind.
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task‐specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics.
Recognising and representing one’s self as distinct from others is a fundamental component of self-awareness. However, current theories of self-recognition are not embedded within global theories of cortical function and therefore fail to provide a compelling explanation of how the self is processed. We present a theoretical account of the neural and computational basis of self-recognition that is embedded within the free-energy account of cortical function. In this account one’s body is processed in a Bayesian manner as the most likely to be “me”. Such probabilistic representation arises through the integration of information from hierarchically organised unimodal systems in higher-level multimodal areas. This information takes the form of bottom-up “surprise” signals from unimodal sensory systems that are explained away by top-down processes that minimise the level of surprise across the brain. We present evidence that this theoretical perspective may account for the findings of psychological and neuroimaging investigations into self-recognition and particularly evidence that representations of the self are malleable, rather than fixed as previous accounts of self-recognition might suggest.
Analyzing the outline of the endless literature on consciousness, the separation between science and philosophy rather than being overcome, seems to come back in different shapes. According to this point of view, the hard problem seems to be how to study consciousness while avoiding a slip back to the old dualism. This article outlines the advantages of the phenomenological method. This method, more than getting over the mind-body separation, anticipates it through an open gaze, able to bring back the human presence as something structurally “ambiguous.” Reintroducing Husserl’s scientific project in a complete way, Francisco Varela opened up a research area yet to be explored, which promises to be fertile for neuroscience, provided that we accept that radicalism essential to phenomenology.
This paper examines the experience of where we end and the rest of the world begins, that is, the sense of boundaries. Since meditators are recognized for their ability to introspect about the bodily level of experience, and in particular about their sense of boundaries, 27 senior meditators (those with more than 10, 000 hours of experience) were interviewed for this study. The main conclusions of this paper are that (a) the boundaries of the so-called “physical body” (body-as-object) are not equivalent to the individual’s sense of boundaries; (b) the sense of boundaries depends upon sensory activity; (c) the sense of boundaries should be defined according to its level of flexibility; (d) the sense of body ownership (the sense that it is one’s own body that undergoes an experience) cannot be reduced to the sense of boundaries; nevertheless, (e) the sense of ownership depends on the level of flexibility of the sense of boundaries.