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Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science
Stewart, John, Olivier Gapenne and Ezequiel A. Di Paolo (Eds)
MIT Press / Softcover / 2014-01-01 / 0262526018
Cognitive Psychology & Cognition / Philosophy
price: $40.00 (may be subject to change)
488 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 3-6 business days

This book presents the framework for a new, comprehensive approach to cognitive science. The proposed paradigm, enaction, offers an alternative to cognitive science's classical, first-generation Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). Enaction, first articulated by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch in The Embodied Mind (MIT Press, 1991), breaks from CTM's formalisms of information processing and symbolic representations to view cognition as grounded in the sensorimotor dynamics of the interactions between a living organism and its environment. A living organism enacts the world it lives in; its embodied action in the world constitutes its perception and thereby grounds its cognition. Enaction offers a range of perspectives on this exciting new approach to embodied cognitive science.

Some chapters offer manifestos for the enaction paradigm; others address specific areas of research, including artificial intelligence, developmental psychology, neuroscience, language, phenomenology, and culture and cognition. Three themes emerge as testimony to the originality and specificity of enaction as a paradigm: the relation between first-person lived experience and third-person natural science; the ambition to provide an encompassing framework applicable at levels from the cell to society; and the difficulties of reflexivity. Taken together, the chapters offer nothing less than the framework for a far-reaching renewal of cognitive science.


“This is an ambitious project…a remarkably well-written and argued collection on enactivism. Just as The Embodied Mind (Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1991) has served as a constant point of reference for researchers interested in enactive ideas, I suspect that this collection will do so for future generations.”—Philosophical Psychology

“There are very good chapters that introduce key ideas of enactivism and others that offer convincing applications of these ideas to specific areas of importance to cognitive science...Taken individually, these chapters are very interesting reading.”—Constructivist Foundations


1 Foundational Issues in Enaction as a Paradigm for Cognitive Science
From the Origin of Life to Consciousness and Writing
2 Horizons for the Enactive Mind:
Values, Social Interaction, and Play
3 Life and Exteriority
The Problem of Metabolism
4 Development through Sensorimotor Coordination
5 Enaction, Sense-Making, and Emotion
6 Thinking in Movement:
Further Analyses and Validations
7 Kinesthesia and the Construction of Perceptual Objects
8 Directive Minds: How Dynamics Shapes Cognition
9 Neurodynamics and Phenomenology in Mutual Enlightenment:
The Example of the Epileptic Aura
10 Language and Enaction
11 Enacting Infinity:
Bringing Transfinite Cardinals into Being
12 The Ontological Constitution of Cognition and the Epistemological Constitution of Cognitive Science:
Phenomenology, Enaction, and Technology
13 Embodiment or Envatment?:
Reflections on the Bodily Basis of Consciousness
14 Toward a Phenomenological Psychology of the Conscious
15 Enaction, Imagination, and Insight
List of Contributors

Contributors: Renaud Barbaras, Didier Bottineau, Giovanna Colombetti, Diego Cosmelli, Hanne De Jaegher, Ezequiel A. Di Paolo. Andreas K. Engel, Olivier Gapenne, Véronique Havelange, Edwin Hutchins, Michel Le Van Quyen, Rafael E. Núñez, Marieke Rohde, Benny Shanon, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Adam Sheya, Linda B. Smith, John Stewart, Evan Thompson

About the Editors
John Stewart is a Scientific Consultant at the University of Technology of Compiègne, France.

Olivier Gapenne is Assistant Professor at the University of Technology of Compiègne, France.

Ezequiel A. Di Paolo is Research Professor at the University of the Basque Country.

A comprehensive presentation of an approach that proposes a new account of cognition at levels from the cellular to the social.

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