Manual Mind in action : experience and embodied cognition in pragmatism

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  3. Bredo / COGNITIVISM, SITUATED COGNITION, AND DEWEYIAN PRAGMATISM

Philosophy of emotion. Philosophy of mind. Psychology of aesthetics. Please send your abstract max. Alfonsina Scarinzi. Bottineau, D. Remembering Voice Past: Languaging as an embodied interactive cognitive technique. Di Paolo, E. Linguistic Bodies. The Continuity between Life and Language. MIT Press. Thomas Fuchs Alfonsina Scarinzi ed. Schiavio, A.

Enacting musical emotions. Sense-making, dynamic systems, and the embodied mind.

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Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences , 16 5 , Steiner, P. Enacting anti-representationalism. Thomas M. Alexander on John Dewey's Theory of Art. The research project. In his work The Meaning of the Body philosopher Mark Johnson argues that aesthetics is not just art theory. Rather, it should be considered to be the study of everything that goes into the human capacity to make and experience the bodily pre-linguistic cognitive, emotional and sensory-perceptual conditions of meaning constitution having its origins in the organic activities of living creatures and in their organism-environment transactions.

Johnson introduces the embodied mind thesis into aesthetics. It denies a separation of mind and body, sees meaning, reason and imagination as embodied and ties reason to emotion. In other words, experience and cognition are bodily mediated and depend on the sensorimotor capacities of individuals embedded in a biological, psychological and cultural context that interact with the environment in a relation of co-determination. The cross-disciplinary research project "Reevaluating Aesthetics. Towards Enactive Aesthetics" aims at bringing aesthetics closer to the enactive framework in the postcognitivist cognitive sciences by considering aesthetic experience as a cognitive-emotional process of meaning-making beyond traditional art theories.

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Embodied Cognition

Reevaluating Aesthetics. Towards Enactive Aesthetics. It is a misnomer because the possibilities of action delimiting particular experiences are not merely conditioned upon the subject, but also upon objects encountered, and the experience is largely constituted through actions in the world. The property is inseparable because it is a consequence undergone, as Dewey would say e. Here one perhaps wants to plead that the bottle really is smooth, and not just when touched—we can see its smoothness, for example.

True enough.


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This is even so when the bottle meets the eye: the cornea bends light reflected from the bottle; the lens modi- fies its path further by adjusting to bring the bottle into focus; and these modi- fications are manipulations. Some might object that such modifications are trivial. Dewey would agree. The sight of a brimming beer cooler invites outstretched arms, grasping, twisting of caps, opening of mouths, tilt- ing heads, gulping and more, all of which characterizes the experience.

It is true we sometimes look without grabbing. Yet it is also true that we spend most of our waking life handling and ambulating, which means coordinating ac- tions around objects and settings; and true, moreover, that our eyes participate in most of this. As Myin and Degenaar aptly explained: Seeing a scene or an object is, in the sensorimotor approach, comparable to feeling a surface or object, where the experience is of the whole sur- face or object, despite the fact that momentary tactile stimulation is lim- ited to the fingertips making contact only at particular places.

As in touch, the content of visual experience is not given all at once. We gain content by looking around just as we gain tactile content by moving our hands. Individuals who actively explore their sur- roundings can, with time, come to grasp objects, identify their positions and numbers—in short, develop an analogue to vision.

Experiments with glasses that invert the image hitting the retina suggest a similar point, according to Myin and Degenaar , who summarized a number of studies showing that 1 people wearing such glasses see normally after five or six days, but that 2 adaptation is limited when head movement is restricted, highlighting the centrality of action and exploration in perception. This does not obviate the fact that we sometimes look without overtly act- ing, but it does show that eyes—like hands—are vehicles for action, even if we happen to temporarily be sedentary, and suggests that we learn to perceive through acting.

Thus when we see hallways or contours of bottles, we see spaces for movements or things we can handle. Seeing entails perceiving what sorts of conduct our surroundings allow and disallow, as Dewey, with others such as J. Gibson , suggested; and when we act, as the beer drinking example illustrates, a global assembly of sensi- tivities and capacities synchronize. Looking motivates touching or the reverse, or leads us to crane our head to hear, just as a repulsive odor makes us withdraw and so on. Some reporters, for example, discussing research see Zampini and Spence, showing that chips seem extra crispy when people hear crackling, have intimated that per- ception is untrustworthy.

The problem, however, is that this conclusion fails to recognize that a food is crispy not solely because it fragments easily, but also because it has a certain a look, sound and manner of mobilizing the jaw and tongue—an overall way of synchronizing sensitivities and actions. Indeed, it is actually when capacities fail to coordinate into joint action by synchronizing around things that perception tends to fail. Other perceptual illusions are similar. In this instance, subjects confront conflicting stimuli that pull sensitivities and ca- pacities out of synchrony.

Seen thus, the McGurk effect is not a consequence of something being wrong with subjects, but something being amiss in the situ- ation in which they are placed. Furthermore, if we start with the assumption that perception is intermodal, which is affirmed by Dewey, Merleau-Ponty and at least hinted at by enactivists, we cannot even conclude that subjects misper- ceive the sound, for on this assumption, the isolated ear is not the arbiter of what they ought to hear.

All speakers:

Dewey, by contrast, suggest- ed that things only have properties in relation to one another and that humans are part of the relation, whether in the case of first hand inquiry or scientific investigation; he maintained further that action produces the specific phe- nomena registered. For this reason and ones to be elaborated upon, it makes no more sense to claim we are deceived when perceiving brassy timbres than it does to claim we are when registering the smoothness of a bottle we are handling or indeed detecting separate harmonics with technical instruments.

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All these phenomena result from specific action-scenarios. If judged according to specific scenarios generating them, there is no basis for concluding we are duped when we register them.


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This relates to his understanding of cognition, which he did not view as fundamen- tally distinct from perception. Thompson, , In this regard, quantum mechanics is almost commonsensical, for we fre- quently observe things by changing or manipulating them. Thus inquiring— like perceiving—is an act of going out in order to receive. This means, on the one hand, that we garner observations from the world in return for acting upon it; and, on the other, that what we receive is of little worth when we fail to act within certain limits.

Using ill-suited instruments, ignoring constraints of materials and banging about randomly will elicit observable effects, but the relationships between them will likely appear haphazard and meaningless. The end, if it is to be achieved, limits what materials can be used, and the materials limit how the carpenter can deploy his skills.

Bredo / COGNITIVISM, SITUATED COGNITION, AND DEWEYIAN PRAGMATISM

Consequently he acquires the habit of seeing things in terms of pos- sible actions and uses: Fitness to effect certain special changes that he wishes to see accom- plished is what concerns him in […the materials] he observes. His atten- tion is directed to the changes they undergo and the changes they make other things undergo so that he may select that combination of changes which will yield him his desired result As with color, there- fore, length and mass—mass here understood as resistance to acceleration— are not determinable properties of isolated entities, but effects of relationships between them see Crippen, The combination of this system of activities and the active organism can be thought of as a situation.


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Situations can be more local as well, but whatever the case, situations provide context in which things can show up meaningfully see Dewey, , esp. If we are in a kitchen, our situation includes us, and likely such things as walls, furniture, sink and stove, and perhaps a cat sniffing at our feet. These constituents delineate possibilities of action and organization. If we remove, say, the table, we can traverse the space it occu- pied, but cannot lean our elbows where we once did; nor can the tablecloth continue to rest 80 centimeters above the floor.

Limits also vary depending on the active center. The cat is one such center; a person another. Because the two come to the kitchen endowed with different capacities and limitations, they face, as the expression goes, different situations. It is no mere variation in mental outlook that differentiates the perceptual experience of sipping a glass of milk from that of lapping from a dish while on all fours.

It is a difference in action. Easy sweeps of fin- gertips realize smoothness of lacquered wood, while digging claws realize its sinewy toughness, all of which is to repeat: perception and cognition are pre- eminently a matter of acting and altering worldly arrangements, as opposed to merely representing them.