Embodied Cognition at the Crossroads of
Philosophy, Linguistics, Psychology and Artificial Intelligence

May 13-15, 2021, Cluj-Napoca, ROMANIA

Section 2A


2A: Philosophical basis of embodied cognition



Thursday 13/5, 14:30-15:50


Giovanni Rolla, Nara Figueiredo

Affiliation: Federal University of Bahia, State University of Campinas
Title: Bringing forth a world, literally
Abstract: Our objective in this paper is twofold: first we intend to address the tenability of the enactivist middle way between realism and idealism, as it is proposed in The Embodied Mind. We do so by taking the enactivist conception of bringing forth a world literally in three conceptual levels: enaction, niche construction and social construction. Based on this proposal, we claim that enactivism is compatible with the idea of an independent reality without committing to the claim that organisms have cognitive access to a world composed of properties specified prior to any cognitive activity. Our second goal is to show that our literal interpretation of bringing forth a world not only secures the legitimacy of the middle way, but it also allows us to revive the conception of evolution as natural drift—which is the least examined aspect of the original enactivist theory. Natural drift focuses on how structural couplings between organism and environment trigger viable pathways of maintenance and reproduction, instead of selecting the most adapted trait to a pregiven environment. Although enactivists do not typically explore the consequences of their views regarding evolutionary dynamics, we show how natural drift provides a suitable starting point.


Ileana Dascalu

Affiliation: University of Bucharest
Title: Foundations of Somaesthetics and Pathways to Integrative Educational Experiences in John Dewey’s Thought
Abstract: Pragmatist philosopher Richard Shusterman has argued in favour of an embodied way of living akin to the ancient practice of philosophy, and a variety of methods of thinking with the body. Shusterman, also a Feldenkrais practitioner, has advocated for performative and participatory practices that help develop body consciousness and extend human perception beyond one’s self. His somaesthetics, “the critical meliorative study of one’s experience and use of one’s body as a locus of sensory-aesthetic appreciation (aesthesis) and creative self-fashioning” (Shusterman 2008 , 19) primarily aims to improve awareness of feelings. Therefore, in order to restructure patterns of action and thought, we need to consider the body as an organizing core of experience. In this presentation I am interested in exploring John Dewey’s notion of experience as foundational for somaesthetics and show how it influenced contemporary reflections about bodily-mediated awareness. Art as Experience (1934), Dewey’s seminal work of pragmatist aesthetics contains rich insights about experience as a modality of existence. Central to it is a notion of experience as non-fragmentary, far from both elitism and contemplation, but rather a directional process leading to consummation, in which the individual engages totally. However, this is not a morally neutral notion, and in Dewey’s thought it is associated with the idea of community participation. Loss of harmony or integration with one’s environment, as well as failure to participate in social practices are detrimental to the creation of genuine experiences, all the more so considering that Dewey attributes aesthetic quality to actions that not at all artistic, but rather participative in nature. To conclude, the presentation will discuss some implications of somaesthetics and, on the other hand, Dewey’s aesthetic experience for contemporary philosophy of education. The participative and performative framework of educational institutions should not exclude disruption and conflict but rather strive to stimulate the individualized experiences which will then improve the quality of community interaction.


Patricia Apostol

Affiliation: CEREFREA, Bucarest
Title: Je pâtis, donc je pense
Abstract: Si Spinoza dit que les idées que nous avons de la réalité rendent compte plus de l’état de notre corps que de la realité elle-même, c’est parce qu’il entend la réalité comme une construction du corps et le corps comme une substance étendue, située, enchâssée et enactée, mobilisée par la coopération de la potestas (le pouvoir d’être affecté) et de la potentia (la puissance d’affecter, d’agir) et dont l’élévation des désirs à leur plus haute puissance relèverait d’une conscience supérieure qui vaudrait à l’esprit son salut. C’est précisément à partir de Spinoza, et avec Deleuze, Gueroult, Damasio et Nadler, que je m’interrogerai sur les conséquences du parallélisme entre les idées de l’esprit et les affections du corps pour l’embodiment.


Matthew Crippen

Affiliation: 1. Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University; 2. Grand Valley State University
Title: Values, Viscera and Gustatory Affordances
Abstract: This paper investigates valuative, visceral and gustatory facets of mind, pursuing four interrelated goals. First, I offer philosophical and empirical support for valuative accounts, that is, ones highlighting affective, interested and aesthetic dimensions. Gibson’s affordance theory gestures this way, but his pragmatic, phenomenological and Gestalt predecessors—along with recent biological strains—expand the point. Second, I consider how visceral systems and microbes within them—accompanied by related core drives—enter information processing matrices. I examine this in humans, also looking at insect and unicellular organisms negotiating chemical and gustatory affordances, connecting this to embodied cognitive science and AI. Third, I argue action, affect, cognition and perception integrate together, a view reinforced by gustatory and visceral accounts. Fourth, I fortify embodied standpoints by maintaining that integrated knowledge foraging extends beyond the brain to peripheral organs and visceral engagements with the world.


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