May 2021. Seminar given as part of the series on the Life and Work of Francisco Varela | Ouroboros Seminars 2021 | Varela 20/30. (19/05/2021).
May 2021. A talk in Spanish on “El concepto enactivo de agencia”, part of a seminar series called “Cultura material, agencia y prácticas” from the Departamento de Filosofía, Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina. (13/05/2021)
April 2021. An interview on the enactive mind by the Department of Education at PUC-Rio, Brazil.
A novel theoretical framework for an embodied, non-representational approach to language that extends and deepens enactive theory, bridging the gap between sensorimotor skills and language.
Linguistic Bodies offers a fully embodied and fully social treatment of human language without positing mental representations. The authors present the first coherent, overarching theory that connects dynamical explanations of action and perception with language. Arguing from the assumption of a deep continuity between life and mind, they show that this continuity extends to language. Expanding and deepening enactive theory, they offer a constitutive account of language and the co-emergent phenomena of personhood, reflexivity, social normativity, and ideality. Language, they argue, is not something we add to a range of existing cognitive capacities but a new way of being embodied. Each of us is a linguistic body in a community of other linguistic bodies. The book describes three distinct yet entangled kinds of human embodiment, organic, sensorimotor, and intersubjective; it traces the emergence of linguistic sensitivities and introduces the novel concept of linguistic bodies; and it explores the implications of living as linguistic bodies in perpetual becoming, applying the concept of linguistic bodies to questions of language acquisition, parenting, autism, grammar, symbol, narrative, and gesture, and to such ethical concerns as microaggression, institutional speech, and pedagogy.
Abstract. The sensorimotor approach to perception addresses various aspects of perceptual experience, but not the subjectivity of intentional action. Conversely, the problem that current accounts of the sense of agency deal with is primarily one of subjectivity. But the proposed models, based on internal signal comparisons, arguably fail to make the transition from subpersonal computations to personal experience. In this paper we suggest an alternative direction towards explaining the sense of agency by braiding three theoretical strands: a world-involving, dynamical interpretation of the sensorimotor approach, an enactive description of sensorimotor agency as contrasted with organic agency in general, and a dynamical theory of equilibration within and between sensorimotor schemes. On this new account, the sense of oneself as the author of one’s own actions corresponds to what we experience during the ongoing adventure of establishing, losing, and re-establishing meaningful interactions with the world. The meaningful relation between agent and world is given by the precarious constitution of sensorimotor agency as a self-asserting network of schemes and dispositions. Acts are owned as they adaptively assert the constitution of the agent. Thus, awareness for different aspects of agency experience, such as the initiation of action, the effort exerted in controlling it, or the achievement of the desired effect, can be accounted for by processes involved in maintaining the sensorimotor organization that enables these interactions with the world. We discuss these processes in detail from a non-representational, dynamical perspective and show how they cohere with the personal experience of agency.
Keywords Enactive cognitive science. Agency. Sense of agency. Sensorimotor contingencies. Equilibration. Metastability
Towards an Embodied Science of Intersubjectivity: Widening the Scope of Social Understanding Research, edited by Ezequiel A. Di Paolo and Hanne De Jaegher, Lausanne: Frontiers Media, 2015.
A Frontiers in Psychologyopen access ebook based on the 42 contributions to a Research Topic.
An important amount of research effort in psychology and neuroscience over the past decades has focused on the problem of social cognition. This problem is understood as how we figure out other minds, relying only on indirect manifestations of other people’s intentional states, which are assumed to be hidden, private and internal. Research on this question has mostly investigated how individual cognitive mechanisms achieve this task. A shift in the internalist assumptions regarding intentional states has expanded the research focus with hypotheses that explore the role of interactive phenomena and interpersonal histories and their implications for understanding individual cognitive processes.
This interactive expansion of the conceptual and methodological toolkit for investigating social cognition, we now propose, can be followed by an expansion into wider and deeply-related research questions, beyond (but including) that of social cognition narrowly construed.
Our social lives are populated by different kinds of cognitive and affective phenomena that are related to but not exhausted by the question of how we figure out other minds. These phenomena include acting and perceiving together, verbal and non-verbal engagement, experiences of (dis-)connection, management of relations in a group, joint meaning- making, intimacy, trust, conflict, negotiation, asymmetric relations, material mediation of social interaction, collective action, contextual engagement with socio-cultural norms, structures and roles, etc. These phenomena are often characterized by a strong participation by the cognitive agent in contrast with the spectatorial stance typical of social cognition research. We use the broader notion of embodied intersubjectivity to refer to this wider set of phenomena.
This Research Topic aims to investigate relations between these different issues, to help lay strong foundations for a science of intersubjectivity – the social mind writ large.
To contribute to this goal, we encouraged contributions in psychology, neuroscience, psychopathology, philosophy, and cognitive science that address this wider scope of intersubjectivity by extending the range of explanatory factors from purely individual to interactive, from observational to participatory.
The project eSMCs: Extending SensoriMotor Contingencies to Cognition (1/2011-12/2014, EU FP7-ICT-2009-6 no: 270212) has recently come to an end. You can find more information on the project website. Here I include the reports delivered by our research team. They summarize what was work-in-progress at the time of writing, most of which was later published. But also some bits that have not yet been published.