Advertisement

Synthese

pp 1–27 | Cite as

Pragmatism, enactivism, and ecological psychology: towards a unified approach to post-cognitivism

  • Manuel Heras-EscribanoEmail author
S.I.: Radical Views on Cognition

Abstract

This paper argues that it is possible to combine enactivism and ecological psychology in a single post-cognitivist research framework if we highlight the common pragmatist assumptions of both approaches. These pragmatist assumptions or starting points are shared by ecological psychology and the enactive approach independently of being historically related to pragmatism, and they are based on the idea of organic coordination, which states that the evolution and development of the cognitive abilities of an organism are explained by appealing to the history of interactions of that organism with its environment. It is argued that the idea of behavioral or organic coordination within the enactive approach gives rise to the sensorimotor abilities of the organism, while the ecological approach emphasizes the coordination at a higher-level between organism and environment through the agent’s exploratory behavior for perceiving affordances. As such, these two different processes of organic coordination can be integrated in a post-cognitivist research framework, which will be based on two levels of analysis: the subpersonal one (the neural dynamics of the sensorimotor contingencies and the emergence of enactive agency) and the personal one (the dynamics that emerges from the organism-environment interaction in ecological terms). If this proposal is on the right track, this may be a promising first step for offering a systematized and consistent post-cognitivist approach to cognition that retain the full potential of both enactivism and ecological psychology.

Keywords

Pragmatism Enactivism Ecological psychology Affordances Cognitive science 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the audience at the Ways of Enaction Conference held in Fortaleza (Brasil) in September 2017 for their comments, and to Manuel de Pinedo and Ezequiel Di Paolo for their fruitful comments and suggestions to an earlier version of this paper.

Funding

This paper has been funded thanks to a 2018 Leonardo Grant for Researchers and Cultural Creators, BBVA Foundation (The Foundation accepts no responsibility for the opinions, statements and contents included in the project and/or the results thereof, which are entirely the responsibility of the authors), the Project FFI2016-80088-P funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, and the FiloLab Group of Excellence funded by the Universidad de Granada, Spain.

References

  1. Auvray, M., Hanneton, S., & O’Regan, J. K. (2007). Learning to perceive with a visuo-auditory substitution system: Localization and object recognition with The Voice. Perception, 36, 416–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baldwin, J. M. (1896). A new factor un evolution. The American Naturalist, 30(354), 441–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barandiaran, X. E. (2016). Autonomy and enactivism: Towards a theory of sensorimotor autonomous agency. Topoi.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-016-9365-4.Google Scholar
  4. Barandiaran, X. E., & Di Paolo, E. (2014). A genealogical map of the concept of habit. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 522.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barandiaran, X. E., Di Paolo, E., & Rohde, M. (2009). Defining agency: Individuality, normativity, asymmetry, and spatio-temporality in action. Adaptive Behavior, 17(5), 367–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bateson, P. (2004). The active role of behavior in evolution. Biology and Philosophy, 19(2), 283–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blanco, C. A. (2014). The principal sources of William James’ idea of habit. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 274.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cappuccio, M., & Froese, T. (2014). Enactive cognition at the edge of sense-making: making sense of non-sense. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chemero, A. (2009). Radical embodied cognitive science. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chemero, A., & Käufer, S. (2016). Pragmatism, Phenomenology, and Extended Cognition. In R. Madzia & M. Jung (Eds.), Pragmatism and embodied cognitive science: From bodily interaction to symbolic articulation (pp. 55–70). Berlin: De Gruyer.Google Scholar
  11. Christensen, W., & Bickhard, M. (2002). The process dynamics of normative function. The Monist, 85(1), 3–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Colombetti, G. (2014). The feeling body. Affective mind meets the enactive mind. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Costall, A. (1995). Socializing affordances. Theory & Psychology, 5(4), 467–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cuffari, E. C., Di Paolo, E., & De Jaegher, H. (2015). From participatory sense-making to language: there and back again. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 14(4), 1089–1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Darwin, C. (1872). The origin of species by means of natural selection. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  16. De Jaegher, H., & Di Paolo, E. (2007). Participatory sense-making. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 6(4), 485–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Degenaar, J., & O’Regan, J. (2015). Sensorimotor theory and enactivism. Topoi.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-015-9338-z.Google Scholar
  18. Dewey, J. (1895). The theory of emotion. (2) The significance of emotions. Psychological Review, 2, 13–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dewey, J. (1896). The reflex arc concept in psychology. Psychological Review, 3(4), 357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dewey, J. (1910/1997). The influence of darwin on philosophy and other essays. New York: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  21. Dewey, J. (1922/2007). Human nature and conduct. An introduction to social psychology. New York: Cosimo Books.Google Scholar
  22. Dewey, J. (1925/1958). Experience and nature. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  23. Di Paolo, E. (2005). Autopoiesis, adaptivity, teleology, agency. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 4(4), 429–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Di Paolo, E., Buhrmann, T., & Barandiaran, X. E. (2017). Sensorimotor life: An enactive proposal. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gallagher, S. (2017). Enactivist interventions: Rethinking the mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gallagher, S., & Sorensen, B. (2006). Experimenting with phenomenology. Cosnciousness & Cognition, 15(1), 119–134.Google Scholar
  27. Gallagher, S., & Zahavi, D. (2008). The phenomenological mind. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Gibson, E. J., & Pick, A. D. (2000). An ecological approach to perceptual learning and development. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Gibson, J. J. (1960). The concept of the stimulus in psychology. American Psychologist, 16, 694–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gibson, J. J. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  31. Gibson, J. J. (1967). The century psychology series. In E. G. Boring & G. Lindzey (Eds.), A history of psychology in autobiography (Vol. 5, pp. 127–143). East Norwalk, CT: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  32. Gibson, J. J. (1979/2015). The ecological approach to visual perception. New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  33. Heft, H. (2001). Ecological Psychology in context: James Gibson, Roger Baker, and the legacy of William James. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  34. Heft, H., & Richardson, M. (2013). Ecological psychology. In S. S. Dunn (Ed.), Oxford bibliographies in psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Heras-Escribano, M. (2016). Embracing the environment: ecological answers for enactive problems. Constructivist Foundations, 11(2), 309–312.Google Scholar
  36. Heras-Escribano, M., & De Jesus, P. (2018). Biosemiotics, the extended synthesis, and ecological information: Making sense of the organism-environment relation at the cognitive level. Biosemiotics.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12304-018-9322-2.Google Scholar
  37. Heras-Escribano, M., & Pinedo, M. (2016). Are affordances normative? Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 15(4), 565–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Heras-Escribano, M., & Pinedo, M. (2018). Affordances and landscapes: Overcoming the nature–culture dichotomy through niche construction theory. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 2294.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Heras-Escribano, M., De Pinedo, M., & Noble, J. (2015). Enactivism, action and normativity: A Wittgensteinian analysis. Adaptive Behavior, 23(1), 20–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hook, S. (1936/1962). From Hegel to Marx. Studies in the intellectual development of Karl Marx. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  41. Hutto, D. D. (2017). REC: Revolution effected by clarification. Topoi, 36(3), 377–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hutto, D. D., & Myin, E. (2013). Radicalizing enactivism: Basic minds without content. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  43. Hutto, D. D., & Satne, G. (2015). The natural origins of content. Philosophia, 43, 521–536.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-015-9644-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hutto, D. D., & Satne, G. (2017). Continuity skepticism in doubt: A radically enactive take. In C. Tewes, C. Durt, & T. Fuchs (Eds.), Embodiment, enaction, and culture. Investigating the constitution of the shared world. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. Jacobs, D. M., & Michaels, C. (2007). Direct learning. Ecological Psychology, 19, 321–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jacobs, D. M., & Michaels, C. F. (2002). On the apparent paradox of learning and realism. Ecological Psychology, 14, 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. James, W. (1890/1981). The principles of psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. James, W. (1895). The knowing of things together. Psychological Review, 2(2), 105–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. James, W. (1904). A world of pure experience. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, 1(20, 21): 533–543, 561–570.Google Scholar
  50. James, W. (1907). Pragmatism. New York: Hackett Publishing.Google Scholar
  51. James, W. (1912/2003). Essays in radical empiricism. New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  52. James, W. (1912/1976). Essays in radical empiricism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  53. James, W. (1978). Essays in philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Käufer, S., & Chemero, A. (2015). Phenomenology: An introduction. Cambridge: Wiley.Google Scholar
  55. Kauffman, S. (2003). Molecular autonomous agents. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 361(1807), 1089–1099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Kiverstein, J., & Clark, A. (2009). Introduction: Mind embodied, embedded, enacted: One church or many? Topoi, 28(1), 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lobo, L., Travieso, D., Barrientos, A., & Jacobs, D. M. (2014). Stepping on obstacles with a sensory substitution device on the lower leg: Practice without vision is more beneficial than practice with vision. PLoS ONE, 9(6), e98801.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0098801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Lobo, L., Travieso, D., Jacobs, D. M., Rodger, M., & Craig, C. M. (2018). Sensory substitution: Using a vibrotactile device to orient and walk to targets. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 24(1), 108–124.Google Scholar
  59. Maturana, H. & Varela, F. (1987/1992). The tree of knowledge. Colorado: Shambala.Google Scholar
  60. Menary, R. (2006). Radical enactivism: Intentionality, phenomenology, and narrative. London: John Benjamins Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Michaels, C., & Carello, C. (1981). Direct perception. Englewood Clifs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  62. Myin, E. (2016). Perception as something we do. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 23(5–6), 80–104.Google Scholar
  63. Neisser, U. (1967). Cognitive psychology. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts.Google Scholar
  64. Noë, A. (2004). Action in perception. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  65. O’Regan, J. K., & Noë, A. (2001). A sensorimotor approach to vision and visual consciousness. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 24(5), 939–973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reed, E. S. (1991). James Gibson’s ecological approach to cognition. In A. Still & A. Costall (Eds.), Against cognitivism: Alternative foundations for cognitive psychology (pp. 171–198). New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  67. Reed, E. S. (1996). Encountering the world: Toward an ecological psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Richardson, M., Shockley, K., Fajen, B. R., Riley, M., & Turvey, M. (2008). Ecological Psychology: Six principles for an embodied-embedded approach to behavior. In P. Calvo & T. Gomila (Eds.), Handbook of cognitive science: An embodied approach (pp. 159–187). New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Shook, J. R. (2000). Dewey’s empirical theory of knowledge and reality. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Stapleton, M. (2016). Enactivism embraces ecological psychology. Constructivist Foundations, 11(2), 325–327.Google Scholar
  71. Stapleton, M., & Froese, T. (2016). The enactive philosophy of embodiment: from biological foundations of agency to the phenomenology of subjectivity. In M. García-Valdecasas, J. I. Murillo, & N. F. Barett (Eds.), Biology and subjectivity: Philosophical contributions to a non-reductive neuroscience. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  72. Stewart, J., Gapenne, O., & Di Paolo, E. (2010). Enaction: Toward a new paradigm for cognitive science. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Thompson, E. (2005). Sensorimotor subjectivity and the enactive approach to experience. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 4(4), 407–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Thompson, E. (2018). Review of Daniel D. Hutto and Erik Myin, Evolving Enactivism: Basic Minds Meet Content, MIT Press. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Retrieved from: https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/evolving-enactivism-basic-minds-meet-content/.
  76. Thompson, E., & Stapleton, M. (2009). Making sense of sense-making: Reflections on enactive and extended mind theories. Topoi, 28(1), 23–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Travieso, D., Gómez-Jordana, L., Díaz, A., Lobo, L., & Jacobs, D. (2015). Body-scaled affordances in sensory substitution. Consciousness and Cognition, 38, 130–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Turvey, M., Shaw, R. E., Reed, E. S., & Mace, W. M. (1981). Ecological laws of perceiving and acting: In reply to Fodor and Pylyshyn (1981). Cognition, 9(3), 237–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. van Dijk, L., Withagen, R., & Bongers, R. M. (2014). Information without content: A Gibsonian reply to enactivists’ worries. Cognition, 34, 210–214.Google Scholar
  80. Varela, F. (1979). Principles of biological autonomy. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  81. Varela, F., Thompson, E., & Rosch, E. (1991). The embodied mind. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  82. Warren, W. H. (1984). Perceiving affordances: Visual guidance of stair climbing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10(5), 683.Google Scholar
  83. Weber, A., & Varela, F. J. (2002). Life after Kant: Natural purposes and the autopoietic foundations of biological individuality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 1(2), 97–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Withagen, R., & van der Kamp, J. (2010). Towards a new ecological conception of perceptual information: Lessons from a developmental systems perspective. Human Movement Science, 29(1), 149–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IAS Research Center on Life, Mind, and Society, Department of Logic and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of the Basque CountryDonostia-San SebastiánSpain

Personalised recommendations