This Monday, February 27, I will give a keynote lecture at the Foundations of Enactive Cognitive Science conference, which will be held at the Cumberland Lodge in the Great Park of Windsor, England.
Don’t look back: Enaction is the future of cognitive science
Critics of the enactive paradigm have long argued that its principles are unable to account for the domain of orthodox cognitive science, especially “higher-level” and specifically human cognition. In addition, even many of the paradigm’s “lower-level” insights into embodiment appear to be amenable to a functionalist reinterpretation. Is the enactive approach threatened by a return to functionalist business as usual? In this talk, I dispute this possibility. Instead I argue 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 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.