What evolutionary account explains our capacity to reason mathematically? Identifying the biological provenance of mathematical thinking would bear on education, because we could then design learning environments that simulate ecologically authentic conditions for leveraging this universal phylogenetic inclination. The ancient mechanism coopted for mathematical activity, I propose, is our fundamental organismic capacity to improve our sensorimotor engagement with the environment by detecting, generating, and maintaining goal-oriented perceptual structures regulating action, whether actual or imaginary. As such, the phenomenology of grasping a mathematical notion is literally that – gripping the environment in a new way that promotes interaction. To argue for the plausibility of my thesis, I first survey embodiment literature to implicate cognition as constituted in perceptuomotor engagement. Then, I summarize findings from a design-based research project investigating relations between learning to move in new ways and learning to reason mathematically about these conceptual choreographies. As such, the project proposes educational implications of enactivist evolutionary biology.
Abrahamson D., Nathan M. J., Williams-Pierce C., Walkington C., Ottmar E. R., Soto H. & Alibali M. W. (2020) The future of embodied design for mathematics teaching and learning. Frontiers in Education 5: 147. https://cepa.info/7086
A rising epistemological paradigm in the cognitive sciences – embodied cognition – has been stimulating innovative approaches, among educational researchers, to the design and analysis of STEM teaching and learning. The paradigm promotes theorizations of cognitive activity as grounded, or even constituted, in goal-oriented multimodal sensorimotor phenomenology. Conceptual learning, per these theories, could emanate from, or be triggered by, experiences of enacting or witnessing particular movement forms, even before these movements are explicitly signified as illustrating target content. Putting these theories to practice, new types of learning environments are being explored that utilize interactive technologies to initially foster student enactment of conceptually oriented movement forms and only then formalize these gestures and actions in disciplinary formats and language. In turn, new research instruments, such as multimodal learning analytics, now enable researchers to aggregate, integrate, model, and represent students’ physical movements, eye-gaze paths, and verbal–gestural utterance so as to track and evaluate emerging conceptual capacity. We – a cohort of cognitive scientists and design-based researchers of embodied mathematics – survey a set of empirically validated frameworks and principles for enhancing mathematics teaching and learning as dialogic multimodal activity, and we synthetize a set of principles for educational practice.
Aden J. & Aden S. (2017) Entre je, jeu et jeux: écoute polysensorielle des langues pour une pédagogie énactive [All ears: Listening from within and without: A polysensory experience of language perception for an enactive pedagogy]. Intellectica 68: 143–174. https://cepa.info/7344
This article presents the design and analysis of a polysensory listening experience of different languages. Combining sensory design, phenomenology and language education, this research draws on the enaction paradigm. The objective of the authors is twofold: to understand the nature and structures of transmodal perception of unknown languages and to prepare a novel educational approach to sensory awareness to foreign languages. The article will explain the origin of the project as well as its theoretical framework and the foundations that dictated the aesthetic and didactic choices for the video used as a primer within the experiment. Finally, the authors share findings that suggest that inhabitual ways of listening to familiar and unfamiliar languages result in emotional filters as well as cognitive and attentional oscillations.
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.
Experimental phenomenology is the study of appearances in subjective awareness. Its methods and results challenge quite a few aspects of the current debate on consciousness. A robust theoretical framework for understanding consciousness is pending: current empirical research waves on what a phenomenon of consciousness properly is, not least because the question is still open on the observables to be measured and how to measure them. I shall present the basics of experimental phenomenology and discuss the current development of experimental phenomenology, its main features, and the many misunderstandings that have obstructed a fair understanding and evaluation of its otherwise enlightening outcomes.
Alrøe H. F. & Noe E. (2012) Observing Environments. Constructivist Foundations 8(1): 39–52. https://constructivist.info/8/1/039
Context: Society is faced with “wicked” problems of environmental sustainability, which are inherently multiperspectival, and there is a need for explicitly constructivist and perspectivist theories to address them. Problem: However, different constructivist theories construe the environment in different ways. The aim of this paper is to clarify the conceptions of environment in constructivist approaches, and thereby to assist the sciences of complex systems and complex environmental problems. Method: We describe the terms used for “the environment” in von Uexküll, Maturana & Varela, and Luhmann, and analyse how their conceptions of environment are connected to differences of perspective and observation. Results: We show the need to distinguish between inside and outside perspectives on the environment, and identify two very different and complementary logics of observation, the logic of distinction and the logic of representation, in the three constructivist theories. Implications: Luhmann’s theory of social systems can be a helpful perspective on the wicked environmental problems of society if we consider carefully the theory’s own blind spots: that it confines itself to systems of communication, and that it is based fully on the conception of observation as indication by means of distinction.
Arístegui R. (2017) Enaction and neurophenomenology in language. In: Ibáñez A., Lucas Sedeño L. & García A. M. (eds.) Neuroscience and social science: The missing link. Springer, New York: 471–500. https://cepa.info/5711
This chapter situates the conception of language (and communication) in enaction in the context of the research program of the cognitive sciences. It focuses on the formulation of the synthesis of hermeneutics and speech acts and the vision of language according to the metaphor of structural coupling. The exclusion of expressive speech acts in this design is problematized. An examination is offered of the critical steps to the theory of language as a reflection and the linguistic correspondence of cognitivism. We examine the foundations of the proposal in the line of language and social enaction as emergent phenomena which are not reducible to autopoiesis but which constitute a new neurophenomenological position in the pragmatic language dimension. A proposal is made for the integration of hermeneutic phenomenology with genetic and generative phenomenology in social semiotics. The inclusion of expressive speech acts based on the functions of language in the Habermas–Bühler line is also addressed. An opening is proposed of enaction to the expressive dimension of language and meaning holism with the referential use of language.
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.
Armezzani M. & Chiari G. (2014) Ideas for a phenomenological interpretation and elaboration of personal construct theory. Part 1. Kelly between constructivism and phenomenology. Costruttivismi 1: 136–149. https://cepa.info/1249
Kelly’s personal construct theory, put forward in 1955, is considered the first constructivist theory of personality and the first expression of those contemporary psychotherapeutic perspectives grounded on a constructivist view of knowledge. Notwithstanding the similarities between psychological constructivism and the phenomenological-hermeneutic tradition, Kelly always rejected the parallel of his theory to phenomenology, regarding the latter as unacceptable since idealistic, solipsistic, and particularistic. In this first article of a work subdivided into three parts, the Authors explain such criticism by Kelly with his knowledge of phenomenology deriving from secondary sources, and stress the wide possibilities of a phenomenological interpretation and elaboration of his theory. Relevance: The publication highlights the analogy between psychological constructivism and phenomenology.
Armezzani M. & Chiari G. (2015) Ideas for a phenomenological interpretation and elaboration of personal construct theory. Part 3. Clinic, psychotherapy, research. Costruttivismi 2: 58–77. https://cepa.info/1251
In this part of our work about a comparison between Kelly’s personal construct theory and phenomenology, we enter the fields of psychotherapy and research. The topic of intersubjectivity, meant as original recognition of the other’s subjectivity, provides a backdrop for both phenomenological clinic and Kellyan psychotherapy. Though Kelly never used the term “intersubjectivity,” his theory and the corollary of sociality in particular, reveals a view of interpersonal relationships as intercorporeality, which is much closer to phenomenological ideas than to the cognitive ones. Depending on such commonality, in either cases clinical relationship is not viewed as an “aspecific factor” of psychotherapy, but as the essential tool for the care of other. Furthermore, the core role of intersubjectivity in scientific knowledge implies a radical revision of the criteria of research. Consistently with the intent of a science of experience, it is no more a matter of collecting data, as of accepting meanings. Psychological research has to refound itself in continuity with life and recognize the need for a real involvement and real interaction with the subjects, as far as to reverse the traditional relation between clinic and research. It is nonsense to conceive clinic as an applicative sector of a pure science because clinic, on the contrary, is the place where one can know, in first-person, those meaningful realities which take shape in the intersubjective exchange of ideas, in order to make them comprehensible and controllable. Relevance: The publication explores the dimension of intersubjectivity in phenomenology (starting from Husserl) and personal construct theory, and its relevance in psychotherapy and research.