Summer school “Introduction to Enactivism” in Hokkaido, Japan

Next August I will be one of three instructors in a summer school on enactive philosophy of mind and cognitive science in beautiful Hokkaido, Japan! The other instructors are Shigeru Taguchi (phenomenology) and Masatoshi Yoshida (neuroscience), so this will be a truly interdisciplinary experience.

We are looking for motivated students to join us in this enactive summer school!

Title and abstract below. For more details please see the course website:

Introduction to Enactivism: Moving to Know, Knowing to Move

The aim of this course is to give an introduction to enactivism by lectures and experimental practices. Enactivism is a philosophical view on cognition and experience that Francisco Varela and other scholars developed. According to this view, cognition and experience are not just passive processes, but a kind of ”making up” of reality through our action.

In this course, students can examine to what extent the enactive view of experience is convincing by discussing in the classroom and doing experimental practices using special instruments and devices.

Schedule: 05/Aug/2019 – 09/Aug/2019
Level: Graduate
Language: English

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A dynamical approach to the phenomenology of body memory

A special issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies is in the final stages of preparation, following on from last year’s conference on the “Formation of Embodied Memory” in Heidelberg.

I teamed up with my old colleague Eduardo to put together the following article:

A dynamical approach to the phenomenology of body memory: Past interactions can shape present capacities without neuroplasticity

Tom Froese and Eduardo J. Izquierdo

Body memory comprises the acquired dispositions that constitute an individual’s present capacities and experiences. Phenomenological accounts of body memory describe its effects using dynamical metaphors: it is conceived of as curvatures in an agent-environment relational field, leading to attracting and repelling forces that shape ongoing sensorimotor interaction. This relational perspective stands in tension with traditional cognitive science, which conceives of the underlying basis of memory in representational-internal terms: it is the encoding and storing of informational content via structural changes inside the brain. We propose that this tension can be resolved by replacing the traditional approach with the dynamical approach to cognitive science. Specifically, we present three of our simulation models of embodied cognition that can help us to rethink the basis of several types of body memory. The upshot is that, at least in principle, there is no need to explain their basis in terms of content or to restrict their basis to neuroplasticity alone. Instead these models support the perspective developed by phenomenology: body memory is a relational property of a whole brain-body-environment system that emerges out of its history of interactions.

Special issue has been released!

It’s been a long time in the making, but finally it has come out: a special issue of Constructivist Foundations dedicated to a comprehensive reflection on the relationships between enaction and other alternative approaches to cognitive science! It is the biggest issue of the journal yet.

For a small donation you can get a print version of the special issue delivered to you! Please help to support this free online journal. Click the link for details: http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/subscriptions/voluntary.html

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