This book takes ideas from the enactive approach developed over the last twenty years in cognitive science and philosophy of mind and applies them for the first time to affective science – the study of emotions, moods, and feelings. Colombetti argues that enactivism entails a view of cognition as not just embodied but also intrinsically affective, and she elaborates on the implications of this claim for the study of emotion in psychology and neuroscience. In the course of her discussion, the author focuses on long-debated issues in affective science, including the notion of basic emotions, the nature of appraisal and its relationship to bodily arousal, the place of bodily feelings in emotion experience, the neurophysiological study of emotion experience, and the bodily nature of our encounters with others. Relevance: The author draws on enactivist tools such as dynamical systems theory, the notion of the lived body, neurophenomenology, and phenomenological accounts of empathy.
Colombetti G. & Torrance S. (2009) Emotion and ethics: An inter-(en) active approach. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 8(4): 505–526. https://cepa.info/2608
In this paper, we start exploring the affective and ethical dimension of what De Jaegher and Di Paolo (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 6:485–507, 2007) have called ‘participatory sense-making’. In the first part, we distinguish various ways in which we are, and feel, affectively inter-connected in interpersonal encounters. In the second part, we discuss the ethical character of this affective inter-connectedness, as well as the implications that taking an ‘inter-(en)active approach’ has for ethical theory itself.
Di Bernardo M. (2021) Neurophenomenology and intersubjectivity: An interdisciplinary approach [Autopoiesis and recursion in Dichtung und Wahrheit BY J. W. Goethe]. Axiomathes, Online first. https://cepa.info/8028
The article aims to provide the main conceptual coordinates in order to fully understand the state of the art of the most recent research in the field of neurobiology of interpersonal experience. The main purpose of this work is to analyze, at an anthropological, phenomenological and epistemological level, how the fundamental characteristics of the recognition of otherness and intercorporeity among human beings contribute to changing the image of nature in the light of a possible new relationship between living bodies, neurophysiological systems and empathy. From this point of view, the hypothesis to investigate is that neurophenomenology, understood as a new evolutionary, multidimensional and autopoietic approach, is capable of probing the preconditions of the possible delineation of a phenomenology of intersubjectivity shaped by the neuroscientific turning point, represented by the discovery of mirror neurons. At this level, the neuroscientific data are interpreted according to a specific interdisciplinary perspective, thus trying to offer a possible unitary and integrated theoretical framework.
Krueger J. (2013) Empathy, enaction, and shared musical experience: Evidence from infant cognition. In: Cochrane T., Fantini B. & Scherer K. R. (eds.) The emotional power of music: Multidisciplinary perspectives on musical arousal, expression, and social control. Oxford University Press, Oxford: 177–196. https://cepa.info/7598
I consider the relation between shared musical experience and basic forms of empathy. I draw upon studies from developmental psychology to show that music motivates early infant-caregiver interactions and supports rudimentary forms of interpersonal understanding. I stress the enactive character of this process and argue that shared musical experiences depend crucially on sensorimotor features of the animate body. To highlight their enactive character, I characterize such experiences as dynamic processes of (1) joint sensemaking, enacted via temporally-extended patterns of (2) skillful engagement with music that are (3) synchronically and diachronically scaffolded by the surrounding environment. I treat these three aspects in turn, arguing that they collectively afford the unique sort of intimacy – empathy – possible even within early shared listening experiences.
Design Thinking has been a subject of teaching, research and real-life application in almost every domain and area of education, research and industrial endeavor for the past many years. This paper explains how to recognize the tenets of constructivist learning theory (constructivist principles) within the teaching-learning of the Design Thinking process. The research, established an integrative approach to theory, method, and practice by developing a taxonomy of constructivist principles to map the process and activities of design thinking. The paper further picks up the thread of developing and fine-tuning a Design Thinking course by presenting, what we call as the “constructivism tenets-design thinking dashboard” which, while being suitable for business schools (Master of Business Administration), is generic enough to be used with minimal modifications for any other domains where customer experience is important, which is the case for all human endeavours.
Context: Neurophenomenology is a relatively new field, with scope for novel and informative approaches to empirical questions about what structural parallels there are between neural activity and phenomenal experience. Problem: The overall aim is to present a method for examining possible correlations of neurodynamic and phenodynamic structures within the structurally-coupled work of Alexander Technique practitioners with their pupils. Method: This paper includes the development of an enkinaesthetic explanatory framework, an overview of the salient aspects of the Alexander Technique, and the presentation of an elicitation interview technique as part of a neurophenomenological method. It will propose a way of testing the hypothesis that if, in the effective practice of Alexander Technique, there is a union between the nervous systems of teacher and pupil, it should be visible neurologically and affective phenomenologically, and thus it should be possible to investigate both its neural and phenomenal signatures. Results: The proposed means of testing the hypothesis is to use the elicitation interview technique alongside neural monitoring during the teaching of the Alexander Technique in four paired sets of subjects. Constructivist content: At the heart of this paper is the claim that all activity is co-activity. I make no assumption of an ontological primacy of mental or physical, or explanatory primacy of any methodology. Implications: This has important ramifications for somatic education and therapies, for establishing frameworks of co-engagement and care in health-care situations, and for understanding empathy.
Tewes C., Durt C. & Fuchs T. (2017) Introduction: The interplay of embodiment, enaction, and culture. In: Durt C., Fuchs T. & Tewes C. (eds.) Embodiment, enaction, and culture: Investigating the constitution of the shared world. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 1–21. https://cepa.info/5079
Excerpt: Here we have brought together philosophical, neurophysiological, psychological, psychiatric, sociological, anthropological, and evolutionary studies of the interplay of embodiment, enaction, and culture. The constitution of the shared world is understood in terms of participatory and broader collective sense-making processes manifested in dynamic forms of intercorporeality, collective body memory, artifacts, affordances, scaffolding, use of symbols, and so on. The contributors investigate how preconscious and conscious accomplishments work together in empathy, interaffectivity, identifications of oneself with others through emotions such as shame, we-intentionality, and hermeneutical understanding of the thoughts of others. The shared world is seen as something constituted by intersubjective understanding that discloses things in the shared significance they have for the members of a culture. Special emphasis is put on phenomenological approaches to cognition and culture and their relation to other approaches. Our introduction explicates the key concepts, relates them to relevant empirical research, raises guiding questions, and explains the structure of the book. Starting with a phenomenological approach to the intertwinement of mind, body, and the cultural world, we continue with an exploration of the concepts of intercorporeality and interaffectivity. The ideas underlying these concepts are put in dialogue with central tenets of enactivism. We then consider further cultural conditions, such as those of cognitive scaffolding, and explain how these cultural conditions in turn depend on the embodied interaction of human beings. Finally, we outline the book’s structure and introduce the individual chapters.
Thompson E. (2001) Empathy and Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8(5–7): 1–32. https://cepa.info/2364
This article makes five main points. (1) Individual human consciousness is formed in the dynamic interrelation of self and other, and therefore is inherently intersubjective. (2) The concrete encounter of self and other fundamentally involves empathy, under- stood as a unique and irreducible kind of intentionality. (3) Empathy is the precondi- tion (the condition of possibility) of the science of consciousness. (4) Human empathy is inherently developmental: open to it are pathways to non-egocentric or self-transcendent modes of intersubjectivity. (5) Real progress in the understanding of intersubjectivity requires integrating the methods and findings of cognitive science, phenomenology, and contemplative and meditative psychologies of human transformation.
Thompson E. (2011) Précis of Mind in Life. Journal of Consciousness Studies 18: 10–22. https://cepa.info/2346
The theme of this book is the deep continuity of life and mind. Where there is life there is mind, and mind in its most articulated forms belongs to life. Life and mind share a core set of formal or organiza- tional properties, and the formal or organizational properties distinc- tive of mind are an enriched version of those fundamental to life. I take a twofold approach to these ideas in Mind in Life. On the one hand, I try to show that to be a living organism is physically to realize or instantiate a certain kind of self-organization – one that entails an autonomous and normative and cognitive mode of being in relation to the world. On the other hand, I try to show that certain features of the human mind, especially various structural features of conscious expe- rience, are constituted by self-organizing processes of the human body engaged with its environment. In this twofold way, I hope to pro- vide new resources for addressing the explanatory gap between con- sciousness and nature. The book’s subtitle indicates the principal resources from which I draw – biology, phenomenological philosophy stemming from Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and the cognitive and brain sciences. Any attempt to synthesize material from these disciplines faces two immediate challenges. On the one hand, traditional phenomenology would reject my proposal that advances in biology and the sciences of mind and brain can properly address issues about the teleology of life and the intentionality of consciousness. On the other hand, contempo- rary biology, neuroscience, and psychology would see phenomenol- ogy as irrelevant to their explanatory efforts and concerns. Hence another goal of my book is to show that science and phenomenology need each other and can work together productively to understand mind and life. I try to make good on this proposal in Part Three through detailed analyses of body awareness (Chapter Nine), percep- tion and mental imagery (Chapter Ten), time consciousness (Chapter Eleven), emotion (Chapter Twelve), and empathy and intersubject- ivity (Chapter Thirteen). Instead of trying to summarize these analyses and their supporting arguments, I will present in this Précis some of the main ideas of Mind in Life in relation to the book’s overarching aim.
Vörös S. (2014) The Autopoiesis of Peace: Embodiment, Compassion, and the Selfless Self. Poligrafi 19(75/76): 125–148. https://cepa.info/2195
The aim of this paper is to detail a recent paradigm shift in the field of cognitive science (the so-called embodied or enactive approach to cognition) and to demonstrate how its unique approach to understanding life, the mind, and cognition might facilitate peaceful and compassionate coexistence. The paper is divided into three parts: first, it examines the so-called autopoietic theory of life, as proposed by Maturana and Varela. According to the embodied/enactive approach, there is a deep continuity between the structure of life and the structure of the mind, so before delving into the realm of the mental, it is important to acquaint ourselves with the fundamentals of the so-called bio-logic (the dialectical logic of living systems). Second, having elucidated the general anatomy of life, this paper goes on to discuss how the dialectical principles of bio-logic translate to the dialectical principles of neuro-logic and provides an outline of the fundamental nature of human beings as embodied organisms embedded in their environment. Third, drawing on the idea of co-determination of self and the world, which lies at the heart of bioand neuro-logic, it is argued that the dialectical structure of life and mind manifests itself in empathic openness towards the other and is thus not merely a theoretical postulate, but an experiential (realizable) actuality that can be cultivated through the application of various meditative/contemplative and therapeutic practices. This, as it turns out, is of utmost importance for the possibility of a sustained (auto)poiesis of peace, for it is only when one actually lives (en-acts), and not merely thinks, the co-determination (nondistinction) between one-self and the other that peaceful coexistence (genuine inter-being) can arise and propagate.