Neural-based vs. Enactive Approaches to Consciousness and Social Cognition

Avant, Vol. XI, No. 2, doi: 10.26913/avant.2020.02.02
published under license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Zsuzsanna Kondor orcid-id
Institute for Philosophical Research
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
kondorzs @

Received 30 August 2018; accepted 16 July 2019; published Online First 6 January 2020

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Abstract: In the present paper, I will investigate how consciousness studies and theories of social cognition relate to each other, and suggest that despite the results of scientific research, both social cognition and consciousness can be better understood within a wider framework, i.e., not exclusively in terms of intra-cranial processes. I will attempt to illuminate the advantages of embracing embodied cognition in contrast with focusing exclusively on neural and/or representational mechanisms when consciousness and cognition are in question. In my argumentation, I will first show the divergence of consciousness- and cognitive-theories on the one hand, and delineate attempts to reconcile these two branches of investigation, on the other hand. Then I will relate the model of cognitive phylogeny, as regards social cognition, and the models of the evolution of consciousness as it emerged in scientific literature. In conclusion, I will attempt to expose the advantages of widening the horizon of investigation towards embodied and enacted cognition.

Keywords: consciousness; social cognition; social brain; embodiment; enactivism


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