Abstracts

 

Kenneth Aizawa: What is embodied?

Many cognitive scientists have recently championed the thesis that cognition is embodied. In principle, explicating this thesis should be relatively simple. There are, essentially, only two concepts involved: cognition and embodiment.  This talk will cover a little bit about one sense of embodiment that is to be found in the literature, but then a lot about cognition. It will draw attention to what many advocates of embodied cognition mean by “cognition”. Many do not mean by “cognition” what their cognitivist rivals, whom they frequently challenge, mean by “cognition”. Once we see what many of the advocates of embodied cognition are talking about, we see that their hypothesis that cognition is embodied is one that few philosophers or psychologists have ever opposed. It is, in part, due to a lack of clarity on what has been meant by “cognition” that there has been so much interest in the embodiment of cognition.



Ron Chrisley: Seven Interfaces of the Mind

I conduct a whistle-stop tour of some sites of interaction that play key roles in my research into mind, including, if possible, the following:

1) Artificial <-> Natural:  Shifting the defining boundary for Artificial Consciousness research results in an emphasis on prosthetic artificial consciousness, an area of investigation that is epistemologically more tractable than, and thus a crucial bootstrapping step for, "whole agent" Machine Consciousness.  I claim that some investigation into, e.g., sensory substitution/ augmentation devices (e.g. Froese and Spiers 2007; Chrisley, Froese and Spiers 2008) can be seen as examples of this way forward.

2) Perception <-> Percept:  Contra, e.g., (Millikan 2002), there is a fundamental difference between perceptual vs. other (e.g. linguistic, inferential) mind-world interfaces, in that perception requires a particular kind of epistemic alignment between the conceptual and non-conceptual content of experience.

3) Sense modality <-> Sense Modality:  Themselves interfaces par excellence, the sense modalities should be distinguished from each other, at least in part, in terms of imaginative/epistemic closure, contra the qualia view (Clark 2009) and the reductive view (Keeley 2002).

4) Cognition <-> World:  The key to understanding what is right-- and what is wrong -- about "The Extended Mind" (Clark and Chalmers 1998) is getting clear on which boundary is really at issue.  I argue that the "inside/outside" boundary at stake is not: spatial, biological, historical/evolutionary, nor epistemological; rather, it is phenomenological.  The result is that, although cognition can be extended, Otto and his notebook are not an example of it.

5) Consciousness <-> World: Some of the most ardent exponents of the extended/embodied nature of cognition balk at a similar treatment of consciousness; e.g. (Clark 2008).  In contrast, I propose that a proper account of visual phenomenology sees it as depending systematically on the actual spatial structure of actions, rather than on an inner, neural representation of such -- a proposal that has the attractive feature of being empirically falsifiable.

6) Mind <-> Mind:  I stipulate that a necessary condition for understanding a system as having a mind is that the system not contain a sub-system that has a mind. I motivate this stipulation not only from first principles (Morris 1992), but also by showing how the "no sub-mind" condition would permit the resolution of several perennial bugbears in the philosophy of cognitive science:  Searle's Chinese room, Block's Chinese nation, and Clark and Chalmers' (presumably non-Chinese) Otto. 

7) Theorist <-> World:  For the theorist of mind, perhaps the most elusive boundary of all is the boundary between the world (construed in the widest possible sense of "that which is theorised about") and the theorist herself.  When the theorising mind directs its attention to the very mind that enables such theorising, boundaries are transgressed and collapsed.  Although typically ignored/wished away, such degeneration yields challenges/opportunities that can be overcome/ embraced through a concomitant transgression and collapsing of boundaries in method. Specifically, the advances we seek in understanding the mind may require a) an iterative and interactive theory/model design methodology that sees (conceptual change in) the theorist as part of the design specification/process; and b) active experiential engagement on the part of the theorist, obliterating the first-person/third-person chasm that threatens to block a robust science of consciousness.  I finish with some concrete examples of this methodological change in artificial intelligence and cognitive science.



Helena de Preester: A Heideggerian body - Dasein, tool-use and existential spatiality

This talk is about the relation between the body and artifacts one uses to act with, and is based on a reading of Being and Time (1927), where Martin Heidegger analyses human activity and the artifacts used in it. Dasein is inextricably involved with tools, and it is the human capacity of dealing with the world in a mediated way that lies at the origin of technics and technology. Heidegger’s analyses presuppose but nonetheless do not explicitly deal with the theme of the body and embodiment. To make some aspects of the ‘Heideggerian body’ explicit is one of the aims of this talk, with some help from cognitive-scientific research into bodily extensions.

Precisely the question, in what sense the human body has no fixed boundaries, but can be extended with tools or partly supplemented with prostheses is central in a number of recent cognitive-scientific approaches of embodiment. In the background is the view that the rise of technology in the twentieth and twenty-first century necessitates not just an account of the embodied subject, but of the so-called prosthetic subject. An up-to-date perspective, prompted by Heidegger’s thinking on technics, equipment and tool-use, may benefit from the notion of existential spatiality developed in this talk.



Shaun Gallagher: How we can perceive intentions

I revisit the idea that we can perceive the intentions of others, an idea defended by proponents of phenomenological-interactionist approaches to social cognition. I consider some recent criticism of this view, and some new evidence that supports the idea of direct perception in social cognition. To clarify what is meant by the enactive perception of intentions I borrow distinctions between different kinds of intentions from action theory and argue that, on an enactive model, we can perceive motor intentions and intentions-in-action.



Holger Lyre: Shared intentionality and externalism about content

My talk has two parts. Firstly, I want to demonstrate that shared intentionality as a fundamental mechanism for cooperative action and social cognition leads to an interesting type of content externalism that might be called cooperational externalism. I construe this as an active externalism where the cognitive system has active causal influence on the external content-determining factors. The crucial point is that action plans of cooperative actions may consist of subplans that are different for the different cooperating partners but that suitably mesh. Shared intentionality mutually depends on the partners being interdependent and actively influencing each other. In the second part I want to highlight possible links between cooperational externalism and social externalism. The latter is usually considered as a form of passive externalism and is connected with the works of Wittgenstein, Burge, and others. I will argue that in the limit of small language communities, social externalism turns out as a version of active externalism with cooperational externalism as a proto- and sub-variant. This is in accordance with recent ideas about the origin of language and meanings in mechanisms of shared intentionality and cooperative communication.



Richard Menary: Cognitive Transformations: Enculturating the Mind

I present the concept of enculturation as a thesis of cognitive transformation.This is grounded in the work on enculturation developed in Cognitive Integration (Menary 2007, Palgrave Macmillan), I will make a three stage case:

1. The evolutionary grounds for cognitively and behaviourally modern humans lies in our creation of cultural niches. Cultural niches are repositories of cognitive capital and have consequent developmental effects on the cognitive capacities of modern humans.

2. Cultural practices structure the niche.  Cultural practices are mastered through social learning, they give us mastery over shared systems of representation. I focus on a sub-species of cultural practices - cognitive practices and their transformatory effects on human cognitive capacities.

3. Culture directly extends our cognitive capacities by means of functional plasticity in the brain. Learning and training in the richly structured cognitive niche makes for functional redeployment of cortical circuits to new culturally specific functions. After culture we are cognitively transformed. 



Angela Mendelovici & David Bourget: How Intentionality Derives from Consciousness

According to the newly emerging phenomenal intentionality theory, intentionality somehow derives from consciousness. This view faces challenges in accounting for intentional states that lack phenomenal characters matching their intentional

contents, such as beliefs, desires, nonconscious states, and thoughts. We develop a strategy for constructing different kinds of contents for these states using ingredients available to the phenomenal intentionality theorist. We argue that our strategy can account for both internalist and externalist content. 



Kristof Nyíri: Motor Intentionality and the Visual Mind

The theory of motor intentionality – as it developed from, say, Head and Grünbaum through Merleau-Ponty to the embodied cognition approach that dominates contemporary philosophy – basically fails to take account of imagery and visual thinking. The notion of the body image obscures, rather than clarifies, the issue, nor does here Merleau-Ponty's struggle in "Eye and Mind" shift the margin. On the one hand the work both of Paivio and Kosslyn, and on the other hand the attempts of the Lakoff–Johnson school to come to terms with the problem of visual images, remain essentially unexploited within the embodied cognition paradigm. Even less noted is another strand of intellectual history, beginning again with Gestalt psychology and Head, leading first to Bartlett, and then to Rudolf Arnheim and Ernst Gombrich. Drawing especially on the work of these latter two figures, but also on that of the later Wittgenstein, the planned talk will discuss connections between the motor, the pictorial, and the metaphorical. Motor experience gives rise to inner images, the inner image translates into metaphor, met- aphors tell us in words about our non-verbal world. In particular, this is the chain of connections that

explains, and indeed vindicates, our experience of time as an objective flow – an experience Merleau-Ponty was certainly confused by, but Gallagher seems to succeed in making sense of.



David Pitt: There Is No Such Thing as Derived Intentionality

I argue in this paper that intentionality is an essentially experiential phenomenon, and, hence, that only mental states can have it. All intentionality is “original”; there is no such thing as “derived” intentionality. Intentionality cannot be conferred upon anything, because experience cannot be conferred upon anything. Consequently, things like signs, sentences and symbols cannot have it, even derivatively. They are not the kinds of things that could have it, since they are not experiences. It is, rather, only our perceptual experiences of, and thoughts about, such things that have intentionality.



Andreas Roepstorff: Interacting Minds, Hearts and Bodies: Mediated Coordination and Coupling

In a very basic version of human interaction, two people become coupled to each other in a mutual action-perception loop. As a result, they may mutually adapt to the actions of the other in what may be explained as predictive dynamics. However, in many instances, interaction is mediated by external objects, words or symbols. Also in these instances, hearts, minds and bodies may become coupled, but the introduction of a medium of coordination seems to allow for much more complicated dynamics to arise. I will introduce a few experimental studies, that attempts to examine at human interaction as mediated coordination at behavioural, physiological and neural levels.



Robert Rosenberger: A Phenomenological Account of the Difference in Driver Distraction
Between Cell-Phones and Passengers

A decade of empirical research has made clear a surprising fact: both handheld and hands-free cell phone usage is associated with the same dangerous drop in driving performance. This flies in the face of common intuition, evidenced by the tendency in traffic laws across the globe to regulate only handheld—and not hands-free—texting and phone conversation while driving. And it raises the question of exactly why it is that communication over the phone is so deeply distracting. Against an explanation that can be teased out of assumptions found in the empirical literature, which accounts for this distraction in terms of inherent cognitive limitations, I have developed an alternative explanation based on the phenomenological description of the experience of technological interface. Under this phenomenological account, also consistent with the empirical evidence, cell-phone-induced driving impairment is understood in terms of the structures of human experience and the perceptual habits developed with communications technologies.

A natural question that arises from this discussion is whether or not passenger conversation results in the same driving impairment as cell phone usage. And if not, then why not? Research is indeed emerging which finds passenger conversation to be less dangerous than cell phones. On this subtopic of investigation again a productive contrast can be drawn between the cognitive and phenomenological accounts. The cognitive account suggests that, although passenger conversation must be equally distracting to cell phone usage, the distraction caused by passengers is mitigated by the ways they modulate conversation upon changing driving conditions. The phenomenological interpretation I am developing instead focuses on the way the experience of conversation is contextualized by technological mediation. In one case the onversation is experienced through the context of the shared space of the moving car, and in the other it is contextualized by the cellular telephone interface in which the space of the conversation is experienced as distinctly separate from that of the roadway. That is, in this phenomenological account, passenger conversation is not as distracting since the driver’s experience of the passenger anchors the driver there in the context of the moving car.



Robert Rupert: Embodiment, Consciousness, and the Massively Representational Mind

This talk consists of three main sections. In the first, I argue that the human mind is massively representational (in the externalist sense); the brain is rife with representations that possess overlapping and redundant content, and many of these represent other mental representations or derive their content from them. In the second section, I argue that representations of bodily states and processes play an integral role in this wash of representational activity. In the third, I argue that many behavioral phenomena associated with attention and consciousness are best explained by the coordinated activity of units with redundant, or at least very similar, content -- many of which are bodily representations not directly accessible to processes that control verbal report. The resulting picture challenges the reliability of a priori reflections on consciousness and on the content of what we take to be our conscious states.



Hans Bernhard Schmid: Expressing Group Attitudes. The Subject Use of "We"

Expressing one's attitudes entails assuming a particular kind of authority and entering a special sort of commitment. Authority and commitment play an important role both in the constitution of the individual mind, and in the domain of the relation between individuals. Recent philosophiscal research has emphasized the possibility of group minds, and it is sometimes suggested that the group mind might be expressible in the same or a similar way as the individual mind. This paper argues that the two first persons - singular and plural - are different in how they express their attitudes, and that the analogy between individual and group mind fails.



Corrado Sinigaglia: Intention and motor representation in purposive action

Are there distinct roles for intention and motor representation in explaining the purposiveness of action? Standard accounts of action assign a role to intention but are silent on motor representation. The temptation is to suppose that nothing need be said here because motor representation is either only an enabling condition for purposive action or else merely a variety of intention. This talk provides reasons for resisting that temptation. Some motor representations, like intentions, coordinate actions in virtue of representing outcomes; but, unlike intentions, motor representations cannot feature as premises or conclusions in practical reasoning. This implies that motor representation has a distinctive role in explaining the purposiveness of action. It also gives rise to a problem: were the roles of intention and motor representation entirely independent, this would impair effective action. It is therefore necessary to explain how intentions interface with motor representations. The solution, we argue, is to recognise that the contents of intentions can be partially determined by the contents of motor representations. Understanding this content-determining relation enables better understanding how intentions relate to actions.



Jan Slaby: Emotion - Enactive and Extended

Theorizing in Philosophy and Cognitive Science about the “extended mind” has been rather silent with regard to emotions and affective states. Most proponents of the extended mind thesis seem to assume a rather sharp divide between cognitive states and qualitative experiential states. While these theorists assume that cognition is distributed widely within the technical and social environment, they consider conscious experience to be exclusively realized by processes in the brain and body of the conscious agent. Upon closer examination of a variety of typical human emotions and affects in their typical situatedness, this assumption seems problematic. In fact, there are plenty of environmental structures that seem capable of scaffolding experience, so that qualitative conscious states are enabled that would not be realizable in the absence of these environmental structures.

In my presentation I will argue against the standard reasons for restricting the extended mind approach to cognitive processes, drawing, among other things, on insights from enactivism. Subsequently I will focus in detail on cases of extended emotion, most prominently on collectively felt emotions in groups, but also on individual person’s “coupling” to specific felt-quality-enabling structures or artefacts (such as dynamical works of art such as films or pieces of music). I will introduce and defend the notion of quality-enabling process externalism to distinguish the extended affect thesis from the more common forms of content externalism.