Robert Hanna & Evan Thompson: The Mind-Body-Body Problem
(Theoria Et Historia Scientiarum, Vol. VII, No. 1. 2003: 23–42)
Robert Hanna and Evan Thompson offer a solution to the Mind-Body-Body Problem. The solution, in a nutshell, is that the living and lived body (Leib) is metaphysically and conceptually basic, in the sense that one’s consciousness, on the one hand, and one’s corporeal being (Körper), on the other, are nothing but dual aspects of one’s lived body. One’s living and lived body can be equated with one’s being as an animal; therefore, this solution to the Mind-Body-Body Problem amounts to an “animalist” version of the dual aspect theory.
Keywords: animal, body, Körper, Leib, mind.
Evan Thompson: Living Ways of Sense Making
Evan Thompson’s paper has four parts. First, he says more about what he means when he asks, “what is living?” Second, he presents his way of answering this question, which is that living is sense-making in precarious conditions. Third, he responds to Welton’s considerations about what he calls the “affective entrainment” of the living being by the environment. Finally, he addresses Protevi’s remarks about panpsychism.
Keywords: affective entrainment, autopoiesis, embodiment, enactivism, living, mind, sense making.
Natika Newton: Representation in Theories of Embodied Cognition
(Theoria Et Historia Scientiarum, Vol. VII, No. 1. 2003: 181–193)
This paper looks at a central issue with embodiment theories in cognition: the role, if any, they provide for mental representation. Thelen and Smith (1994) hold that the concept of representations is either vacuous or misapplied in such systems. Others maintain a place for representations (e.g. Clark 1996), but are imprecise about their nature and role. It is difficult to understand what those could be if representations are understood in the same sense as that used by computationalists: fixed or long-lasting neural structures that represent the sensory stimuli that caused them (e.g. neural response patterns in the visual cortex), or whose “meaning” is fixed innately or in early development for particular functions (e.g. the body schemas for Meltzoff and Gopnik 1993). The paper proposes a distinctions between, on the one hand, neural patterns, traces of sensory activation that while not in themselves representations are available for representational activity, and on the other the act of representing, which is what gives representational content to neural patterns.
Keywords: cognition, embodiment, neural patterns, representation, representational activity.
Frederique de Vignemont: Habeas Corpus: The Sense of Ownership of One’ s Own Body
(Mind & Language, Vol. 22 No. 4, September 2007: 427–449)
What grounds my experience of my body as my own? The body that one experiences is always one’s own, but it does not follow that one always experiences it as one’s own. One might even feel that a body part does not belong to oneself despite feeling sensations in it, like in asomatognosia. The article aims at understanding the link between bodily sensations and the sense of ownership by investigating the role played by the body schema.
Keywords: asomatognosia, bodily sensations, experience of my body, body schema, sense of ownership.
Claire Petitmengin: Towards the source of thoughts. The gestural and transmodal dimension of lived experience
(Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol. 14, n° 3 (2007): 54-82)
The objective of this article is to study a deeply pre-reflective dimension of our subjective experience. This dimension is gestural and rhythmic, has precise transmodal sensorial submodalities, and seems to play an essential role in the process of emergence of all thought and understanding. In the first part of the article, using examples, we try to draw the attention of the reader to this dimension in his subjective experience. In the second part, we attempt to explain the difficulties and describe the interior process of becoming aware of it. Then we describe the structural characteristics of this dimension, and the different types of “interior gestures” which enable us to connect ourselves with it. Finally, we formulate a genetic hypothesis about the role of this dimension in cognition, on the basis of which we suggest some research paths in the neuroscientific, educational and existential domains.
Keywords: interior gestures, pre-reflective, subjective experience, thought, transmodality.
David Kirsh: Complementary Strategies: Why we use our hands when we think
(Johanna D. Moore, Jill Fain Lehman, red. 1995. Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum: 212-217)
A complementary strategy can be defined as any organizing activity which recruits external elements to reduce cognitive loads. Typical organizing activities include pointing, arranging the position and orientation of nearby objects, writing things down, manipulating counters, rulers or other artifacts that can encode the state of a process or simplify perception. To illustrate the idea of a complementary strategy, a simple experiment was performed in which subjects were asked to determine the dollar value of collections of coins. In the no-hands condition, subjects were not allowed to touch the coin images or to move their hands in any way. In the hands condition, they were allowed to use their hands and fingers however they liked. Significant improvements in time and number of errors were observed when S’s used their hands over when they did not. To explain these facts, a brief account of some commonly observed complementary strategies is presented, and an account of their potential benefits to perception, memory and attention.
Keywords: complementary strategy, memory, attention, perception, cognition.
David Kirsh: Thinking with the Body
(S. Ohlsson, R. Catrambone, red. 2010. Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society: 2864-2869)
To explore the question of physical thinking – using the body as an instrument of cognition – we collected extensive video and interview data on the creative process of a noted choreographer and his company as they made a new dance. A striking case of physical thinking is found in the phenomenon of marking. Marking refers to dancing a phrase in a less than complete manner. Dancers mark to save energy. But they also mark to explore the tempo of a phrase, or its movement sequence, or the intention behind it. Because of its representational nature, marking can serve as a vehicle for thought. Importantly, this vehicle is less complex than the version of the same phrase danced ‘full-out’. After providing evidence for distinguishing different types of marking, three ways of understanding marking as a form of thought are considered: marking as a gestural language for encoding aspects of a target movement, marking as a method of priming neural systems involved in the target movement, and marking as a method for improving the precision of mentally projecting aspects of the target.
Keywords: Marking, multimodality, thinking, embodied cognition, ethnography.
Bruno Latour: Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together
(H. Kuklick, ed. “Knowledge and Society Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present”, Jai Press, vol. 6, pp. 1-40, 1986. Reprinting and revision in Michael Lynch and Steve Woolgar, ed. Representation in Scientific Activity, MIT Press, Cambridge Mass: 19-68, 1990. Partial republication in The Map Reader, Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation edited by Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchin and Chris Perkins, Wiley Blackwell, 65-73, 2011. Republication in Science and Technology Studies: Critical Concepts, edited by Professor Michael Lynch, Routledge, 2011)
The author of the present paper argues that while trying to explain the institutional success of the science and its broad social impact, it is worth throwing aside the arguments concerning the universal traits of human nature, changes in the human mentality, or transformation of the culture and civilization, such as the development of capitalism or bureaucratic power. In the 16th century no new man emerged, and no mutants with overgrown brains work in modern laboratories. So one must also reject the Great Divide between the cultures of the scientific and pre-scientific and replace it with multiple, uncertain and unexpected ‘not-so-great divides’, which can be described in meticulous anthropological studies. Although the achievements of science are certainly spectacular, and the gap between scientific practice and other areas of activity is so obvious, this does not mean that one must look for the “great” reasons behind this situation. One should rather focus on quite down-to-earth practices and tools used by scientists. A significant part of their activities can be described by referring to the craft of writing, reading and transforming of various types of inscriptions (records), and broadly understood visualization – their combining, performing, interpreting, confronting, comparing, shifting, shuffling etc. The important role of these tools and methods is especially visible in situations of scientific controversy. It is so because scientific controversies are won by the one able to muster on the spot the largest number of well aligned and faithful allies, and the technology of writing, printing and visualizing play a special role in mobilizing them. These are necessary to ensure that certain factors can be mobile – easy to move from place to place, and yet, immutable – not undergoing deformation as a result of the movement. This way, scientists are able to not only diffuse different types of factors relevant to the dispute and the process of constituting science, but also concentrate them in the centers of calculation, where, through accumulation, one can take actions not available elsewhere.
Keywords: Great Divide, immutable mobiles, inscription, mobilization, printing, science, visualization, writing.