From adaptive behavior to human cognition: a review of Enaction

I was invited to review the recently published edited book Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm of Cognitive Science. The resulting paper is now available in the journal Adaptive Behavior. The title and abstract are as follows:

From adaptive behavior to human cognition: a review of Enaction

Tom Froese
Ikegami Laboratory, University of Tokyo, Japan

Critics of the paradigm of enaction have long argued that enactive principles will be unable to account for the traditional domain of orthodox cognitive science, namely “higher-level” cognition and specifically human cognition. Moreover, even many of the paradigm’s “lower-level” insights into embodiment and situatedness appear to be amenable to a functionalist reinterpretation. In this review, I show on the basis of the recently published collection of papers, Enaction, that the paradigm of enaction has (a) a unique foundation in the notion of sense-making that places fundamental limits on the scope of functionalist appropriation; (b) a unique perspective on higher-level cognition that sets important new research directions without the need for the concept of mental representation; (c) a new concept of specifically human cognition in terms of second-order sense-making; and (d) a rich variety of approaches to explain the evolutionary, historical, and developmental origins of this sophisticated human ability. I also indicate how studies of the role of embodiment for abstract human cognition can strengthen their position by reconceiving their notion of embodiment in enactive terms.

You can download the paper here: PDF


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