1st International Avant-Conference 2013
8-10 November 2013, Torun, Poland

1st International Avant-Conference 2013
"Thinking with Hands, Eyes and Things"
8-10 November 2013, Torun, Poland

About conference

"Thinking with Hands, Eyes and Things"*

It is a banal claim that both the body and the environment are involved in our experience of the world. The point, however, is that the whole body as well as its interactions with the environment play a crucial role in our mental processes. Cognition may involve integration with our tools, and we may even delegate some of our thinking to the environment. According to situated cognition and extended mind approaches, humans use elements of their environment as external components of cognitive processes or as means of reducing the complexity of the cognitive problems they face. The theory of affordances connects observers and environments in the act of cognition and cuts across the dichotomy of subjective-objective. Some researchers treat the immune system as a kind of cognitive system. Proponents of embodied cognitive science maintain that aspects of the body beyond the brain play a significant role in cognition. Science, Technology & Society Studies seem to support and complement this way of thinking. The claims made above are far from uncontroversial, however. Their critics assert that since research results in cognitive science do not lend sufficient warrant to the theses of embodied, distributed, extended or situated cognition, the non-neuronal body and elements of the environment play a peripheral role in cognitive processing.

Thinking with the body/environment – or thinking in the body/environment? Is the question appropriate or simply misleading in the second decade of the 21st century?

We invite you to participate in the conference devoted to extra-neural aspects of cognition as well as controversies related to them.

[*"Thinking with Hands, Eyes and Things" is a paraphrase of a famous Bruno Latour’s sentence from: B. Latour. 1986. 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.]

Key speakers

David Kirsh

(University of California at San Diego, USA)

For the last years he has been carrying out research in three different but complementary areas: Theory of Interaction, Environment Design, Information Architecture. He is interested in how people think with things, what being situated, embedded and embodied means, how they project structure onto the world to facilitate interaction, and how they make sense of instructions. He is also interested in design and especially how to design interactive artifacts and experientially rich environments.
[from D.K. profile on and his webpage]

David Kirsh's webpage:

Anthony P. Chemero

(University of Cincinnati, USA)

His research is both philosophical and empirical. Empirical interests are: Dynamical Modeling, Phenomenology, Artificial Life. Philosophical areas: Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Science. He claims that consciousness, like thinking more generally, happens in brain-body-environment systems. In his opinion the theory of affordances discloses truths about both observers and environments. He is working with M. Silberstein on a new theory of dynamical explanation.
[from A.Ch. webpage and interview]

Anthony P. Chemero's webpage:

Christopher Baber

(University of Birmingham, UK)

His research interests focus on the many ways in which computing and communications technologies are becoming embedded in the environment around us and the things we use on a daily basis. Not only do we have significant computing power in the mobile phone in our pocket, but, increasingly, other domestic and personal products are gaining similar capabilities. He is interested in the development and the effect of such technologies on human behaviour.
[from Ch.B. webpage]

Christopher Baber's webpage::

Richard Menary

(Macquarie University, Australia)

His research interests include: Philosophy of Mind: Consciousness, the self, mental representations; Philosophy of Cognitive Science: 4E cognition (embodied, embedded, extended, enacted), theory of mind, modularity, cognition and external representations, expertise; Pragmatism: Charles Sanders Peirce, John Dewey; Virtue theory as it applies to both ethics and cognition/knowledge. Over a number of years he has been developing a model of cognition called Cognitive Integration.
[from R.M. profile on]

Richard Menary’s webpage:

Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi

(University of Warsaw, Poland)

Her research interests include: Cognitive Science, Psychology of Language, Dynamical Psycholinguistics, Distributed Cogniton, and others. Selected research projects: ‘Hyperspace Analogue to Language: a Tool for Semantic Analysis of Linguistic Corpora’, ‘Differences in language structures as a guide to studying differences in cognition: articles and gender’, ‘Multi-scale dynamics in the explanation of linguistic phenomena: identifying time scales and finding measures’.
[from J.R-L. profile on]

Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi’s webpage:

Main Guests of special symposia

J. Kevin O'Regan

(Université Paris Descartes, France)

His work involves exploring the empirical consequences of a "sensorimotor" approach to vision and sensation in general. A researcher of the phenomenon of "change blindness". His main present interest is one particular aspect of the problem of consciousness, namely the "what it's like" of sensory experience: why red seems red to us rather than seeming, say, green, or like the sound of a bell, or even like nothing at all.
He is interested in applying his work to robotics.
[from J.K.O'R. webpage]

J. Kevin O'Regan's webpage:

Robert K. Logan

(University of Toronto, Canada)

He has a variety of research experiences. His interests include: Linguistics: the origin and evolution of language (the Extended Mind Model for the origin of language, the human mind and culture); Social Impact and History of Media; Science Education; Use of Computers in Education; Knowledge Management; Biocomplexity; The Strategic Innovation Lab at OCAD: Design and Emergence; Information Theory.
He published with and collaborated with Marshall McLuhan.
[from R.K.L. webpage]

Robert K. Logan's webpage:

Alan Costall

(University of Portsmouth, UK)

His work has been an attempt to develop an alternative approach to mainstream cognitivist psychology, based on the mutuality of animals and environments, people and their situations. His research interests include: psychology of art, event perception, the meanings of things and others. The topics of his current courses are ecological psychology, and the nature of science, but have also presented courses on the psychology of art, and on Darwin’s impacts on psychology.
[from A.C. webpage and interview]

Alan Costall's webpage:,50471,en.html