Enactive cognitive science: Toward a scientific re-enchantment of the concrete
World Psychedelic Forum 2008
‘Consciousness Change: A Challenge of the 21st Century’
21-24 March 2008, Basel, Switzerland
Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary study of mind consisting of a variety of fields such as neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence and philosophy. The inherent reflexivity of cognitive science entails that a successful paradigm shift toward the concrete in this field would (i) impact on science as a whole, and more importantly (ii) has potential as an important tool for social change, since science is in many respects the final arbiter of knowledge in Western society. Since the early 1990s there has been a growing interest in enactivism, a paradigm which conceives of the mind as bringing forth the world of our experience through embodied action. One of its central themes is the irreducibility of conscious experience and the consequent necessity of cultivating first-person methodologies drawn from psychological, phenomenological and contemplative traditions. What is interesting about this shift in the context of this Forum is that it has been explicitly associated with a turn toward a “re-enchantment of the concrete”. A discussion of the relevance of this connection could be mutually enlightening for both sides, in particular with regard to the challenges associated with opening and establishing new avenues of consciousness research which go against established norms.