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

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

Section 7B


7B: Post-cognitivist approaches in psychology



Friday 14/5, 17:00-18:20



Adrian Opre, Razvan Jurchis, Andrei Costea

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania

Title: Increasing ecologicity in implicit learning research
Abstract: Traditionally, the various branches of cognitive science have viewed the mind as an abstract information processor with a weak connection to the outside world. This tendency has a negative impact on ecologicity of the phenomena studied. Particularly, cognitive psychology, exhibits a continuous effort to maintain its status as experimental discipline. The preoccupation with precision and thorough control of the variables of analysis has gradually led to a simplification, often an excessive one, of the investigated phenomena. As a result, both the studied psychological phenomena and the research contexts have become even more artificial. Rigorosity has increased, but ecologicity has diminished. This particular characteristic can be clearly observed also in the case of the studies regarding the phenomena of implicit learning (IL). With all these, we cannot ignore the fact that the information value and, implicitly, the practical utility of the outcomes of scientific research require a most faithful approximation of the working psychological mechanisms in real contexts, that is, outside laboratory conditions. Today, if we really want to reveal or understand how our mind works in the real word we have to take into account at least some key principle of embodied cognition perspective (cognition is situated, the environment is part of the cognitive system, off-line cognition is body based etc) Acknowledging this need, our recent research in IL has focused on the possibility to (re-)ecologise the investigative designs. Aspects concerning the validity of the investigation methods, as well as the practical implications of this ecological approach will be discussed.


Giuseppe Flavio Artese

Affiliation: University of Kassel
Title: Affordances and the Totality of the Background: A Functional Perspective
Abstract: In this talk, I am going to focus on the concept of affordances and how our understanding of it can be increased by paying more attention to the concrete context in which action possibilities are embedded. Affordances, contrarily to what Gibson (1979) originally theorized, are never individually perceived but always in a continuous figure-background relation with their surroundings. While many enactive-ecological theorists have rightly emphasized the importance of embodiment (Gallagher 2017), self-organization (Rietveld & Kiverstein 2014), socio-cultural norms (Hutto & Myin 2017), and affects (Bower & Gallagher 2013), not many had paid particular attention to what can be considered as the context itself. Inspired by the work of the phenomenologist Aron Gurwitsch (1962, 1966), I propose that his tripartition of the field of consciousness might represent an important tool for radical embodied cognitive scientists interested in formalizing the role of the material background in phenomenologically front-loaded experiments (Gallagher 1997). By structuring the perception of the field of affordances as always having a Theme, a Thematic Field and a Margin, it might be possible for radical embodied cognitive scientists to understand which contexts potentiate, leave unchanged or weaken our intentional perception of affordances. A central concept necessary to understand how inter-thematic relations are structured will be the one of “Material/Functional Relevance”. The latter concept has been used by Gurwitsch to indicate the elements within the Thematic Field that are materially, functionally and intrinsically related to what is inside the Theme (Wells 1984). In particular, among the different subcategories of Material Relevance identifiable in Gurwitsch’s work, I am going to focus on the one that Embree (2003) identified as “Practical Relevance”. Importantly, I will defend the claim that this pragmatic and action-oriented understanding of Material Relevance has crucial implications on how we should think about perceived affordances in relation to their surroundings. References Bower, M. and Gallagher, S. (2013). Bodily affects as prenoetic elements in enactive perception. Phenomenology and Mind 2:108-131. Embree L. (2003). The Three Species of Relevancy in Gurwitsch. Gurwitsch Relevancy for Cognitive Science. Contributions to Phenomenology. Volume 52. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Gallagher, S. (1997). Mutual enlightenment: Recent phenomenology in cognitive science. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 4,195–214. Gallagher, S. (2017). Enactivist interventions: Rethinking the mind. Oxford University Press. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Gurwitsch, A. (1964). The Field of Consciousness. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Pres Gurwitsch, A. (1966) Phenomenology Of Thematics And Of The Pure Ego: Studies Of The Relation Between Gestalt Theory And Phenomenology. The Collected works of Aron Gurwitch (1901-1973) Volume II. London, New York: Springer. Hutto, D. D., & Myin, E. (2017). Evolving Enactivism: Basic Minds Meet Content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Rietveld, E., & Kiverstein, J. (2014). A rich landscape of affordances. Ecological Psychology, 26(4), 325–352 Wells, R. (1984). Material Relevance: A Free Fantasy Criticism, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 15:1, 51-61,


Sevgi Demiroglu

Affiliation: Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar
Title: Investigating Pain in Collectivity: an Account on khooni matam
Abstract: In the present study, I define the possibility of pain as a distributed phenomenon within a distinctive cognitive capacity in the collective setting of matam. Matam is a set of religiously-motivated, collective mourning rituals that take place in the Islamic sacred month, Muharram. It is observed annually as part of a larger procession for commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Husayn and Ahl-i Bayt in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. The rituals of matam range from crying, sina-zani (chest-beating) to khooni matam (self-flagellation). Involving sharp objects such as blades, swords, knives, and chains, khooni matam has been identified with goi̇ng through pai̇n for showing love or for repenting the abandonment of Imam Husayn in Karbala. Earlier studies on this ritual have featured observations on cuts of the body, shedding of blood and concluded it with affliction as a part of socio-religious conformity. In my research, I suspend the interpretation of flagellation as painful act of individual for the collective and investigate the very formation of pain as a more complex phenomenon in the collective ritual setting. I combine observations from the setting of khooni matam with interviews I collected among the regular participants of this ritual in Dabeerpura, Hyderabad in 2020. I challenge the individualized notion of body by presenting the habitual interactions during the ritual as well as shared memories, beliefs, and desires of participants who report that they do not feel pain as opposed to what they would expect from themselves outside matam. I conclude the study by stating that pain’s corporeality is indubitable but the way and extent within which it is felt in a collective cannot be contained in an individual account of a participant, or of an observer.


Mohsen Forghani

Affiliation: University of Warsaw
Title: An affordance-based conception of boredom
Abstract: Boredom is a prevalent experience in our modern society. It has been drawn many philosophers' attention through history. It is described as a two-faced experience of the human being. For example, Kierkegaard(1843/1987) pointed it out as the” root of all evil”, or Bertrand Russell praised the ‘idleness’ as a necessary condition for every form of creativity (Russell 2004). In recent empirical studies, some works on the topic suggested that a state of boredom may promote creativity (Gasper and Middlewood 2014; Harris 2000). Roughly speaking, boredom is considered a repellent experience of an agent’s inability to engage in her environment despite the motivation to do so (Danckert J, Merrifield C., 2018). In this essay, I will appeal to an enactivist affordance-based approach to grasp the body-environment essence of this experience. Accordingly, I reconstruct the concept of boredom in terms of field of affordance that enables us to explain the double-faced nature of boredom. The concept of affordance proposed by James Gibson(1977) to explain how our perception of our environment is action-oriented. Toward the end, I will argue that the richness and quality of such a “field” for an individual can explain whether the experience leads to destructive behaviors or end up with creativity.


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