Varieties of Enactivism: A Conceptual Geography

Program Committee
  1. Mario Villalobos
  2. Dave Ward
  3. David Silverman
Date: Friday 4th April Website: Description:
In its best-established guise, enactivism is an approach to cognition that challenges mainstream cognitive science by rejecting internal representation and ascribing a central role, instead, to the biological autonomy of cognitive agents and their ability to "make sense" of the world. The approach originates with Varela, Thompson and Rosch's (1991) book The Embodied Mind and has roots in earlier work on autopoiesis and phenomenology. From these origins, the canonical position has been developed and enriched in different ways by Varela, Di Paolo, Thompson and others. All assign an important role to the notion of autopoiesis. In recent years, the enactivism label has, more liberally, been applied to accounts that ignore or downplay autopoiesis but share the original theory's emphasis, in place of internal representation, on environmentally-situated bodily coupling. One such theory is the enactive or sensorimotor account of perception, given perhaps its canonical statement by O'Regan and Noe (2001), and building on important work by Hurley (1998). More recent still is the "radical enactivism" of Hutto and Myin (2013), which has just been given its first book-length statement. "Varieties of enactivism: A conceptual geography" will chart this conceptual terrain. The symposium aims to clarify the key conceptual boundaries that hold both between different kinds of enactivism, and between enactivism and neighbouring accounts in embodied cognitive science. In the process, it aims to find out whether enactivism, as the term is used, denotes no more than a motley, or whether, alternatively, there is some minimal framework that might unify enactivist accounts while usefully distinguishing them from neighbouring approaches.