In this paper, we emphasize the methodological challenges of analyzing data with/in an enactivist framework in which (1) all knowing is doing is being, while focusing on, (2) how an entry by the observer transforms usual ways of analyzing data. In this sense, the association of knowing with doing suggests a shift in attention away from what students might “know” toward attending to the active, dynamic, enacted mathematical activity as knowing, bringing to bear the local and emergent character of the mathematical activity. In addition to illustrating data analysis along those lines, we discuss the methodological significances and challenges of, and paradigm shifts required for, replacing questions of knowledge and acquisition with ones that concern mathematical doing alone.
For most archaeologists the meaning of prehistoric art appears to be grounded upon, if not synonymous with, the notion of representation and symbolism. This paper explores the possibility that the depictions we see already 30,000 years before present, for instance, at the caves of Chauvet and Lascaux, before and beyond representing the world, they first bring forth a new process of acting within this world and at the same time of thinking about it. It is argued that the unique ability of those early depictions to disrupt or question the ways the world is experienced under normal conditions makes possible for the visual apparatus to interrogate itself and thus acquire a sense of perceptual awareness not previously available.
‘Own-body perception’ refers to the perception of one’s body as one’s own body. The chapter reviews various disruptions to own-body perception, including what is known about their neural correlates. It argues that it is crucial to distinguish between the sense of ownership for one’s body as an object of perception – the body-as-object – and the sense of ownership for one’s body as that by which and through which one perceives the world – the body-as-subject. Despite the fact that illusory own-body perception provides an excellent case for illustrating this distinction, most discussions to date of own-body perception have failed to make this distinction and apply it to the various clinical and experimental findings. The chapter summarizes one recent model of the body-as-subject, according to which the body-as-subject is based on sensorimotor integration. Finally, it uses this model to clarify the phenomenon of illusory own-body perception, and it suggests directions for future research.
The Uroboros, or snake that swallows its own tail, symbolizes regeneration and renewal the world over. It was adopted by Francisco Varela as an icon for his reentry term in “A Calculus for SelfReference.” The present paper examines how the notion of reentry can be applied psychologically, to issues of autonomy and identity. According to Varela, all autonomous systems are structurally open and functionally closed, which leads to paradoxical qualities particularly evident in higher order cybernetics. First Varela’s early work is placed within a philosophical and historical context. Next, notions about biological autonomy are examined from the perspective of nonlinear dynamics. Then, the recursive dynamics of consciousness are explored through social mirror theories of identity formation. Finally, Varela’s ideas are applied selfreferentially to descriptions of his own experience as he neared death.
Upshot: I clarify Varela’s radical proposal by discussing different degrees of “openness,” “embodiment,” “circularity” and “invariance.” In doing so, the aim is to further describe and exemplify how his proposal is indeed radical.
Context: The scientific landscape of cognitive science is today influenced, as are other areas of science, by the open science movement, which is seen, for instance, in the recently launched Open MIND project. Problem: More than 25 years ago Varela introduced the idea of opening up cognitive science. He called for a radical transformation of values, training and ways to conduct cognitive science. Yet, his radical proposal has been neglected in the discussions in cognitive science. Method: I describe Varela’s proposal by revisiting his philosophical arguments, his embodied and enactive view of cognition, and the methods he proposed as an alternative, namely the neurophenomenological and the second-person method. Results: I show how cognitive scientists neglect Varela’s proposal, because as scientists we are part of a scientific tradition and community that has not developed a research practice that enables us to integrate his proposal. I discuss different attempts to integrate the proposal into the research practice of cognitive science using the phenomenological interview, and argue for an even more radical approach. Implications: If we, as cognitive scientists, do not develop “how” we do cognitive science and change the scientific community we are embedded in, we will not be able to open up cognitive science and fully address the experiential, embodied and enactive aspects of cognition. Varela’s radical proposal for how to do so is therefore as important today as ever.
Upshot: In his latest book, Antonio Damasio explores the neural underpinnings of self-consciousness in an evolutionary context, while reconsidering his previous views. His current views may be interesting for constructivists.
Upshot: The fact that both “consciousness” and “music” are quite elusive terms makes the attempt to explain the nature (or even the existence of) “musical consciousness” a compelling quest. The papers in this book tackle these problems in an engaging way, ranging from sociology of music to drug altered music cognition. Some also apply enactive and ecological approaches to music cognition, which makes the book an interesting read for constructivists.
Upshot: Hutto & Myin’s latest “radical enactive cognition” manifesto is a truly exciting book and – despite its short length – quite thick with argumentation. The word “manifesto” here does not only describe the rousing writing style (filled with witty and resounding expressions), but also the general awed feeling one gets, while reading, of the importance of “RECtifying” the current state of research in enactive cognition. Interestingly for the constructivist community, the hallmark thesis of their book is that there can be intentionally directed cognition and perceptual experience without content.
Context: The past few years have presented us with a growing amount of theoretical research (yet that is often based on neuroscientific developments) in the field of enactive music cognition. Problem: Current cognitivist and embodied approaches to music cognition suffer, in our opinion, from a too firm commitment to the explanatory role of mental representations in musical experience. This particular problem can be solved by adopting an enactive approach to music cognition. Method: We present and compare cognitivist, embodied and enactive approaches to music cognition and review the current research in enactive music cognition. Results: We find that, in general, the enactive approaches to human musicality are capable of explaining the basic relationship between a musical subject and a musical object according to a pre-conceptual and pre-linguistic form of understanding related to bodily motor expertise. This explanation does not rely on on sophisticated forms of representation. Implications: Proponents of enactive music cognition should, in our opinion, focus on providing a consistent explanation of the most basic level of musical understanding. Constructivist content: We hope to invite the constructivist community to engage with the discussions on the intersection between music and enactivism.