Sensorimotor Life: An Enactive Proposal
Ezequiel A. Di Paolo, Thomas Buhrmann, Xabier E. Barandiaran, 2017, Oxford University Press.
Coming out in May 2017.
Here’s a conversation on AI, machines, embodiment, mind and life with Tom Froese for the program Entrevistas (im)posibles, broadcast by UNAM TV, Mexico on 13 September 2016. The chat is in Spanish.
Also available here.
An article in Spanish of recent developments in enactive theory.
Un artículo en castellano sobre los recientes avances en teoría enactiva.
Di Paolo, Ezequiel. (2016). “Enactivismo”. En Diccionario Interdisciplinar Austral, editado por Claudia E. Vanney, Ignacio Silva y Juan F. Franck.
A new open access paper discussing the enactive notion of sensorimotor agency and how it helps explain the phenomenology of the sense of agency in a non-representational manner.
Buhrmann, T., and Di Paolo, E. (2015) The sense of agency – a phenomenological consequence of enacting sensorimotor schemes, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, doi: 10.1007/s11097-015-9446-7. (online first).
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
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.
Barandiaran, X., Buhrmann, T. and Di Paolo, E. (2012). Deliverable D1.1: Interim report on eSMCs and embodiment.
Barandiaran, X., Beaton, M., Buhrmann, T. and Di Paolo, E. (2013). Deliverable D1.2: eSMCs and embodied cognition.
Beaton, M., Barandiaran, X., Buhrmann, T. and Di Paolo, E. (2014). Deliverable D1.5: Cognitive organisation for sustaining eSMCs.
Buhrmann, T., Di Paolo, E., Barandiaran, X., De Jaegher, H. (2015). Deliverable D1.6: Agency and eSMCs.
Beaton, M. and Di Paolo, E. (2015). Deliverable D1.7 Virtual Actions and eSMCs.
The enactive approach has often been criticised for not offering a clear story about high-level human cognition. It’s been said that it is often ok to think in enactive terms for simple, environmentally-guided performances (such as walking, even dancing) but that traditional computational stories will be necessary to bridge such “low-level” performances with “high-level” mental function, such as human linguistic capability. The endgame of such stories is a return to some form of representationalism.
We show in this paper that there are concrete alternatives to this way of thinking and that dichotomies such as high and low-level cognition, “online”/”offline” performance, etc. are the first to go when we consider the activity of languaging enactively.
We offer two models linking participatory sense-making and languaging. One is dialectical (figure below), the other describes the development of linguistic sensitivities and linguistic bodies diachronically.
Find the open-access article here:
Cuffari, E. Di Paolo, E., De Jaegher, H. (2014) From participatory sense-making to language: There and back again, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, doi 10.1007/s11097-014-9404-9.