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

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

Section 8B


8B: Emotions, skills, abilities and dispositions



Friday 14/5, 18:40-20:00



Christian Kronsted

Affiliation: The University of Memphis
Title: Social Dance and Enacted Empathy
Abstract: Why does it feel good to dance with other people? It is a common empirical and phenomenological claim within dance studies that social dancing leads to a sensation of enhanced empathy. However, mainstream cognitivist-leaning accounts of intersubjectivity such as Theory Theory or Simulation Theory has a notoriously hard time accounting for the empirical phenomenon of enhanced empathy through social dancing. I here use phenomenological interviews with expert dance improvisers in conjunction with autopoietic enactivism to show how and why social dancing is an enacted interactionist form of empathy. Environmental factors such as the music, the dance space, physical objects, non-dancers, all scaffold, constrain, and enable, the ongoing intersubjective engagement between dancers leading to a deeply felt sensation of empathy. Through bodily attunement processes such as synchrony, mimicry, phase locking, shared attention, and environmental scaffolding, the participatory sense-making process makes each dancer part and parcel of a dynamic system in which the process itself is a form of understanding the other.


Abootaleb Safdari

Affiliation: Sharif University of Technology
Title: Does Contextuality of Social Perception Make It Indirect?
Abstract: Direct Social Perception (DP henceforth) is an approach according to which we can directly perceive part of the emotions/ intention of the other in his /her expressive behaviour. One of the objections the proponents of inferentialism have raised against the DP is the objection from contextuality (OfC) that finds its clear formulation in (Jacob, 2011). According to OfC it is the environmental-contextual cues that disambiguate between various emotions. For example it is the perception of a glass emanating a disgusting odorant that makes the observer to understand the other’s emotion as disgust not anger. Furthermore -regarding the understanding of other’s goals / intentions- the activity of Mirror Neurons (MN) can be modulated by the most likely act that the agent will execute, which has been guessed by the observer based on the relevant contextual cues or psychological background assumptions. In a nutshell perception of the other’s emotions as well as intentions (goals) are not direct because they are contextual events. In the first part of the paper – negative step- I will illustrate that Jacob’s arguments are not conclusive. First, consider the case of color perception for instance. It depends on both the environmental characteristics – the light /darkness, the surface of the object, the position of the observer and etc. - and the conceptual-linguistic structures the observer has (Goldstein, Davidoff, & Roberson, 2009) and (Thierry, Athanasopoulos, Wiggett, Dering, & Kuipers, 2009). Nevertheless it seems that we do not infer the color of the objects but directly perceive them. Second, appealing to just one experiment is by no means sufficient to make a bold conclusion. There are many experiments that have different conclusions as well as experiments that affirm the importance of details such as facial redness and masculinity (Young, Thorstenson, & Pazda, 2018). Accordingly, in order to make any bold conclusion all these details should be considered. Third and more importantly, OfC faces a fundamental problem namely the priming problem (PP). It is evident that we don’t pick the glass as the relevant contextual cue at random, or the observer doesn’t guess the most likely act randomly. In other words we have already been primed when we pick something or some psychological background assumptions as a relevant cue. Put it differently why this glass and not the desk is a relevant contextual cue? What is it that makes the glass and not the desk relevant? I argue that it is because we already have a direct acquaintance with the emotions / intentions of the other. This point leads us to the second part. In the second part – the positive step- I will elaborate how we achieve the initial direct acquaintance. Here, in agreement with Krueger and Overgaard I will bring the metaphor of the tip of an iceberg into service (Krueger & Overgaard, 2012). When we see the tip of an iceberg we don’t see the whole iceberg and also we don’t see something different. Similarly when we see the proper parts of an emotion / intention we directly see the emotion / intention itself. Then in order to articulate that it is also direct at sub-experiential levels I will examine the underlying mechanisms. Here I will put the Functional Forecast model into service (Adams & Kveraga, 2015) according to which the contextual social cues become integrated through three mechanisms namely stimulus-driven integration, feed forward and feedback processing. Finally in agreement with (Newen, Welpinghus, & Juckel, 2015) I will argue that the first two mechanism are direct.


Robert Mirski

Affiliation: Nicolaus Copernicus University; The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
Title: Emotion and the regulative role of folk psychology
Abstract: Proponents of the recently popular 4E cognition have argued that folk psychology plays a regulative rather than enabling role in social cognition: Most of the time, we are entirely capable of smooth coordinated social interaction without theorizing about other minds; it is when coordination collapses that we resort to folk psychological explanations (e.g. Andrews, 2012; Hutto, 2004; Zawidzki, 2013; McGeer, 2007). Although we by and large share this view, we argue in the present paper that a developmental model is still needed that would explain how the child acquires folk psychology before she can use it in that regulative role. More broadly, this concerns the question of how explicit thought differs from implicit cognition, and how the former emerges during development. We point out that present 4E approaches tend to limit themselves to general ideas about how that could work, and do not offer a satisfactory model. Social practice and the use of language are asserted to do the job here, but it far from clear how that happens. In order to advance beyond such blanket statements, we offer a proposal within the interactivist framework that posits a clear mechanism, which we argue contributes to the acquisition of folk psychology by the child (see Bickhard, 1980, 2000, 2009; Bickhard & Terveen, 1995; Campbell & Bickhard, 1986). Importantly, we also offer a number of directions for empirical research that our proposal affords. We argue that emotion has a dual-aspect nature: functionally, it allows the child to access her own interactive uncertainty (and thus it is a prerequisite for being able to address social incoordination in the first place); and socially, emotion has a behavioral aspect, which allows the caretaker to impose heuristics for dealing with incoordination onto the child – including folk psychological explanations – effectively teaching them how to do it. If our claims are correct, emotion will play a pivotal role in the process of enculturation of the child’s social cognition and her acquisition of folk psychology.


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