Publication 4133

De Jesus P. (2016) Making sense of (autopoietic) enactive embodiment: A gentle appraisal. Phainomena 25(98–99): 33–56. Fulltext at
Autopoietic enactivism (AE) has over the last two decades undoubtedly been at the forefront of the “embodiment revolution” in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. It has developed a “radical” and influential account of embodiment which maintains that cognition is constitutively dependent on the living body. AE presents a naturalist but non-reductive framework in which the body can be understood both as an autonomous system and subjective sense-making agent. According to AE this account should serve as the core basis from which to develop a truly embodied cognition paradigm worthy of challenging traditional cognitivism. The paper will present AE’s account of the body in order to examine and critically evaluate it. This evaluation will explore certain conceptual ambiguities and theoretical incongruences which are at the root of two difficulties for AE’s account: (i) it highlights a potential anthropocentric and anthropomorphic bias; and (ii) it is too abstract, synchronic, and does not pay sufficient attention to the historical, sociocultural dimension of embodiment. The paper concludes by drawing from recent work in the sociology of the body to both support this reading of AE and also as a possible means to improve on it.


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