New article: On the spatiotemporal extensiveness of sense-making

The battle over the spatial extensiveness of mind has pretty much been won in recent debates in cognitive science. Here we argue that the next step is to defend the temporal extensiveness of mind!

On the spatiotemporal extensiveness of sense-making: Ultrafast cognition and the historicity of normativity

Laura Mojica and Tom Froese

The enactive approach conceives of cognition as acts of sense-making. A requirement of
sense-making is adaptivity, i.e., the agent’s capacity to actively monitor and regulate its own trajectories with respect to its viability constraints. However, there are examples of sense-making, known as ultrafast cognition, that occur faster than the time physiologically required for the organism to centrally monitor and regulate movements, for example via long-range neural feedback mechanisms. These examples open a clarificatory challenge for the enactive approach with respect to how to operationalize monitoring and regulation, and with respect to the temporal scale of sense-making, which has traditionally been limited to the here-and-now in accordance with the axiom of structural determinism. We explore possible responses to this challenge and suggest that this axiom should be explicitly rejected: adaptivity is a property of organism-environment interactions over a time span that includes both present and past conditions. Therefore, ultrafast performances are no longer a challenge for the enactive approach because the constitutive basis of their normativity is spatiotemporally extensive. This is in accordance with recent developments in different varieties of enactivism, which all converge toward assigning a constitutive role to an agent’s history of interactions.