Enactivism and Phenomenology: State of the Dialog

November 11, 2021 - November 12, 2021

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Palacky University
Palacky University

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Since the first explorations of an embodied approach to the study of cognition, the interest of the cognitive sciences in phenomenology has only been growing. In their seminal work The Embodied Mind (1991), Varela, Thompson, and Rosch have emphasized the need to systematically study everyday human experience, including our “lived” self-understanding, and pointed to phenomenology as one of the important reflexive traditions that provide such descriptions. Though initially critical of Husserlian phenomenology, the authors highlighted the importance of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. They were inspired not only by his phenomenological account of embodiment, but also by his ability to implement the “deep circularity” between empirical scientific research and philosophical descriptions. More recently, both Rosch and Thompson, like a number of other contemporary authors, have adopted a much more favorable stance toward phenomenology in general. For embodied cognition theories, phenomenology remains a vital movement of continuing relevance to philosophy, cognitive science, and practical disciplines of human transformation. In turn, many contemporary phenomenologists explore possibilities of engagement with scientific research, thereby softening the strict divide between empirical investigation and philosophical theorizing.

Following this line of development, this conference aims to foster the dialog between enactivism and phenomenology, and address questions that will be important for future research. We aim to explore the positive overlaps between the two traditions as philosophical disciplines, with particular attention to their shared emphasis on the close integration between perception and action, and the pragmatic, pre-reflexive, social, bodily, environmental, and affective aspects of cognition. However, we also aim to explore the differences, incongruences, and disagreements between the two traditions, for example, by contrasting the universalistic, theoretical, and reflexive tendency of phenomenology with the interdisciplinary, experimental, and pragmatic approach of cognitive science.

Keynote speakers:

Julian Kiverstein (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Raymond Tallis (University of Manchester, UK)

Sebastjan Vörös (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

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October 31, 2021, 12:00am CET

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University of New Mexico

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