Recent discussions of social cognition in philosophy of mind and cognitive science have focused on the role of perception in facilitating social understanding. Some theorists, drawing upon phenomenological philosophy, argue that perception is our primary mechanism for understanding others. Call this the “direct perception” (DP) approach to social cognition. DP rests on the claim that, in most circumstances, we have direct perceptual contact with another person’s thoughts, emotions, intentions, etc., within their expressive behavior. DP proponents often frame their view as (...) an alternative to Theory of Mind (ToM) explanations in philosophy and cognitive science. ToM explanations appeal to extra-perceptual mechanisms like theoretical inference and/or simulation to explain how we access another’s mental life and interpret and predict their behavior. From the perspective of DP, however, these extra-perceptual mechanisms are by and large unnecessary. Perception alone is generally “smart” (Gallagher 2008) enough to allow us to get on smoothly with others. (shrink)
In this paper we characterize the body as constitutively open. We fi rst consider the notion of bodily openness at the basic level of its organic constitution. This will provide us a framework relevant for the understanding of the body open to its intersubjective world. We argue that the notion of “bodily openness” captures a constitutive dimension of intersubjectivity. Generally speaking, there are two families of theories intending to characterize the constitutive relation between subjectivity and intersubjectivity: either the self is (...) considered as (1) being constituted prior to, and as a condition of, its potential relation to the outside (intersubjective) world, or, contrastively, (2) the self is considered as being constituted as a result of its (intersubjective) relations with the outside world. Here, we pursue a conciliatory path, as we intend to show that these two positions are not necessarily in opposition to each other. But how can selfhood/subjectivity be both and at the same time primary and secondary, relative to otherness/ intersubjectivity? Stated thusly, the question seems to border on incoherence but our intention here is to reconsider it in a framework that allows for the dissolution of this opposition. In particular, we will characterize the relational autonomy of the self: neither fully enclosed “inside” nor fully dissolved in or determined by what’s “outside”, the bodily self is best characterized by its fundamental “openness”, which we will explore in a framework where autonomy and relationality are not contradictory but co-constitutive dimensions. (shrink)
This chapter offers the beginning of an enactive account of auditory experience—particularly the experience of listening sensitively to music. It investigates how sensorimotor regularities grant perceptual access to music qua music. Two specific claims are defended: (1) music manifests experientially as having complex spatial content; (2) sensorimotor regularities constrain this content. Musical content is thus brought to phenomenal presence by bodily exploring structural features of music. We enact musical content.
The problem of other minds has a distinguished philosophical history stretching back more than two hundred years. Taken at face value, it is an epistemological question: it concerns how we can have knowledge of, or at least justified belief in, the existence of minds other than our own. In recent decades, philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists and primatologists have debated a related question: how we actually go about attributing mental states to others (regardless of whether we ever achieve knowledge or rational (...) justification in this domain). Until the mid-nineties, the latter debate – which sometimes goes under the name of the “mindreading” debate – was characterized by a fairly clear-cut opposition between two theoretical outlooks: “theory-theory” (TT) and “simulation theory” (ST). Theory-theorists typically argued that we attribute mental states to others on the basis of a “theory of mind” that is either constructed in early infancy and subsequently revised and modified (Gopnik 1996), or else is the result of maturation of innate mindreading “modules” (Baron-Cohen 1995). Simulation theorists, on the other hand, held that it is by creating simulated “pretend states” in ourselves that we understand the mental states of others (Goldman 1995; Gordon 1995). Recently, a number of theorists have suggested another explanation of our understanding of others as having mental states – an explanation that, at least prima facie, seems very different from the TT and ST paradigms. Drawing on the approach to other minds defended by classical phenomenologists such as Max Scheler (1954: 238-64) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (2002: 214-16, 403-25), recent participants in the mindreading debate have maintained that we often see, or perceive in some other modality, that another is in the grip of a particular emotion, say. In other words, the processes involved in our detection of others’ emotions and other mental states are often perceptual processes that are not supplemented by any extra-perceptual cognitive mechanisms (e.g., inferential processes, conscious simulation routines, or the like).. (shrink)
We resist Schilbach et al.’s characterization of the “social perception” approach to social cognition as a “spectator theory” of other minds. We show how the social perception view acknowledges the crucial role interaction plays in enabling social understanding. We also highlight a dilemma Schilbach et al. face in attempting to distinguish their second person approach from the social perception view.
The aim of this essay is to situate the thought of Tetsuro Watsuji within contemporary approaches to social cognition. I argue for Watsuji's current relevance, suggesting that his analysis of embodiment and social space puts him in step with some of the concerns driving ongoing treatments of social cognition in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Yet, as I will show, Watsuji can potentially offer a fruitful contribution to this discussion by lending a phenomenologically informed critical perspective. This is because (...) Watsuji challenges the internalist and cognitivist presuppositions informing the currently dominant "Theory of Mind" paradigm that is driving much social cognition research. Additionally, I show .. (shrink)
In this paper, we draw on developmental findings to provide a nuanced understanding of background emotions, particularly those in depression. We demonstrate how they reflect our basic proximity (feeling of interpersonal connectedness) to others and defend both a phenomenological and a functional claim. First, we substantiate a conjecture by Fonagy & Target (International Journal of Psychoanalysis 88(4):917–937, 2007) that an important phenomenological aspect of depression is the experiential recreation of the infantile loss of proximity to significant others. Second, we argue (...) that proximity has a particular cognitive function that allows individuals to morph into a cohesive dyadic system able to carry out distributed emotion regulation. We show that elevated levels of psychological suffering connected to depressive background emotions may be explained not only in terms of a psychological loss, but also as the felt inability to enter into dyadic regulatory relations with others—an experiential constraint that decreases the individual’s ability to adapt to demanding situations. (shrink)
Much recent work on empathy in philosophy of mind and cognitive science has been guided by the assumption that minds are composed of intracranial phenomena, perceptually inaccessible and thus unobservable to everyone but their owners. I challenge this claim. I defend the view that at least some mental states and processes—or at least some parts of some mental states and processes—are at times visible, capable of being directly perceived by others. I further argue that, despite its initial implausibility, this view (...) receives robust support from several strands of empirical research. (shrink)
Social cognition researchers have become increasingly interested in the ways that behavioral, physiological, and neural coupling facilitate social interaction and interpersonal understanding. We distinguish two ways of conceptualizing the role of such coupling processes in social cognition: strong and moderate interactionism. According to strong interactionism (SI), low-level coupling processes are alternatives to higher-level individual cognitive processes; the former at least sometimes render the latter superfluous. Moderate interactionism(MI) on the other hand, is an integrative approach. Its guiding assumption is that higher-level (...) cognitive processes are likely to have been shaped by the need to coordinate, modulate, and extract information from low-level coupling processes. In this paper, we present a case study on Möbius Syndrome (MS) in order to contrast SI and MI. We show how MS—a form of congenital bilateral facial paralysis—can be a fruitful source of insight for research exploring the relation between high-level cognition and low-level coupling. Lacking a capacity for facial expression, individuals with MS are deprived of a primary channel for gestural coupling. According to SI, they lack an essential enabling feature for social interaction and interpersonal understanding more generally and thus ought to exhibit severe deficits in these areas. We challenge SI’s prediction and show how MS cases offer compelling reasons for instead adopting MI’s pluralistic model of social interaction and interpersonal understanding. We conclude that investigations of coupling processes within social interaction should inform rather than marginalize or eliminate investigation of higher-level individual cognition. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration of how we do things with music—that is, the way that we use music as an esthetic technology to enact micro-practices of emotion regulation, communicative expression, identity construction, and interpersonal coordination that drive core aspects of our emotional and social existence. The main thesis is: from birth, music is directly perceived as an affordance-laden structure. Music, I argue, affords a sonic world, an exploratory space or nested acoustic environment that further affords possibilities for, among other (...) things, (1) emotion regulation and (2) social coordination. When we do things with music, we are engaged in the work of creating and cultivating the self, as well as creating and cultivating a shared world that we inhabit with others. I develop this thesis by first introducing the notion of a musical affordance . Next, I look at how emotional affordances in music are exploited to construct and regulate emotions. I summon empirical research on neonate music therapy to argue that this is something we emerge from the womb knowing how to do. I then look at social affordances in music, arguing that joint attention to social affordances in music alters how music is both perceived and appropriated by joint attenders within social listening contexts. In support, I describe the experience of listening to and engaging with music in a live concert setting. Thinking of music as an affordance-laden structure thus reaffirms the crucial role that music plays in constructing and regulating emotional and social experiences in everyday life. (shrink)
The extended mind thesis (EM) asserts that some cognitive processes are (partially) composed of actions consisting of the manipulation and exploitation of environmental structures. Might some processes at the root of social cognition have a similarly extended structure? In this paper, I argue that social cognition is fundamentally an interactive form of space management—the negotiation and management of ‘‘we-space”—and that some of the expressive actions involved in the negotiation and management of we-space (gesture, touch, facial and whole-body expressions) drive basic (...) processes of interpersonal understanding and thus do genuine social-cognitive work. Social interaction is a kind of extended social cognition, driven and at least partially constituted by environmental (non-neural) scaffolding. Challenging the Theory of Mind paradigm, I draw upon research from gesture studies, developmental psychology, and work on Moebius Syndrome to support this thesis. (shrink)
I draw upon the conceptual resources of the extended mind thesis (EM) to analyze <span class='Hi'>empathy</span> and interpersonal understanding. Against the dominant mentalistic paradigm, I argue that <span class='Hi'>empathy</span> is fundamentally an extended bodily activity and that much of our social understanding happens outside of the head. First, I look at how the two dominant models of interpersonal understanding, theory theory and simulation theory, portray the cognitive link between folk psychology and <span class='Hi'>empathy</span>. Next, I challenge their internalist orthodoxy and (...) offer an alternative "extended" characterization of <span class='Hi'>empathy</span>. In support of this characterization, I analyze some narratives of individuals with Moebius syndrome, a kind of expressive deficit resulting from bilateral facial paralysis. I conclude by discussing how a Zen Buddhist ethics of responsiveness is helpful for articulating the practical significance of an extended, body-based account of <span class='Hi'>empathy</span>. (shrink)
I argue for an enactive account of musical experience — that is, the experience of listening ‘deeply’(i.e., sensitively and under- standingly) to a piece of music. The guiding question is: what do we do when we listen ‘deeply’to music? I argue that these music listening episodes are, in fact, doings. They are instances of active perceiving, robust sensorimotor engagements with and manipulations of sonic structures within musical pieces. Music is thus experiential art, and in Nietzsche’s words, ‘we listen to music (...) with our muscles’. This paper attempts to explicate and defend this claim. First, I discuss enactive approaches to consciousness and cognition generally. Next, I apply an enactive model of perceptual consciousness to the experience of listening to music. To clarify what is at stake, I use Peter Kivy’s ‘en- hanced formalism’ as a philosophical foil. I then look at how the ani- mate body shapes musical experience. (shrink)
Joel Krueger & Dorothee Legrand (2009). The Open Body. In Antonella Carassa, Francesca Morganit & Giuseppe Riva (eds.), Enacting Intersubjectivity: Paving the Way for a Dialogue Between Cognitive Science, Social Cognition, and Neuroscience. Università della Svizzera Italiana.
In this article, I attempt to bring some conceptual clarity to several key terms and foundational claims that make up Levinas's body-based conception of ethics. Additionally, I explore ways that Levinas's arguments about the somatic basis of subjectivity and ethical relatedness receive support from recent empirical research. The paper proceeds in this way: First, I clarify Levinas's use of the terms “sensibility”, “subjectivity”, and “proximity” in Otherwise than Being: or Beyond Essence . Next, I argue for an interpretation of Levinas's (...) thought that I suggest is buttressed by recent experimental work in both developmental psychology and neuroscience. I provide examples of research that I suggest opens up Levinas's phenomenological analysis in new and interesting ways. I also urge the importance of Levinas's phenomenological analysis in contextualizing the ethical significance of these empirical findings. (shrink)
In this essay, I investigate Kitarō Nishida's characterization of what he refers to as the 'self-contradictory' body. First, I clarify the conceptual relation between the self-contradictory body and Nishida's notion of 'acting-intuition'. I next look at Nishida's analysis of acting-intuition and the self-contradictory body as it pertains to our personal, sensorimotor engagement with the world and things in it, as well as to our bodily immersion within the intersubjective and social world. Along the way, I argue that Nishida develops a (...) rich and exceedingly current way of thinking through different facets of embodiment and interpersonal relatedness. I further argue that Nishida's work provides compelling reasons to foreground the mutually implicative, co-emergent nature of embodied self and world in our theorizing about the nature of self and experience_. (shrink)
Sartre's notion of pre-reflective consciousness can be summoned to offer a general challenge to contemporary functionalist accounts of mind, broadly construed. In virtue of the challenge Sartre offers these contemporary functionalist accounts and the richness of his phenomenological analysis, I conclude that his voice needs to be included in ongoing debates over the nature of consciousness. First, I look at some of the basic claims motivating functionalist accounts of mind. Next, I look at Sartre's notion of pre-reflective consciousness and discuss (...) how this notion challenges functionalist accounts of mentality. I conclude by suggesting that Sartre's rendering of pre-reflective consciousness remains overly cognitivist. I show how this notion can be deepened to include the sensory-motor capacities of the situated body—resulting in a pre-reflective bodily self-awareness—and how this deepened formulation offers a further challenge to functionalist accounts of mind. (shrink)
William James’s characterization of consciousness as a selecting agency can be used to develop and defend an externalist view of mind. The mind – including the content of phenomenal consciousness – is in an important sense distributed beyond the skin and skull of the subject, out into the world of people and things. Moreover, conscious experience is an action, and not simply something that happens to us. Consciousness, perception, and experience are activities – in other words, things that we do.
The problem of other minds has a distinguished philosophical history stretching back more than two hundred years. Taken at face value, it is an epistemological question: it concerns how we can have knowledge of, or at least justified belief in, the existence of minds other than our own. In recent decades, philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists and primatologists have debated a related question: how we actually go about attributing mental states to others (regardless of whether we ever achieve knowledge or rational (...) justification in this domain). Until the mid-nineties, the latter debate – which sometimes goes under the name of the “mindreading” debate – was characterized by a fairly clear-cut opposition between two theoretical outlooks: “theory-theory” (TT) and “simulation theory” (ST). Theory-theorists typically argued that we attribute mental states to others on the basis of a “theory of mind” that is either constructed in early infancy and subsequently revised and modified (Gopnik 1996), or else is the result of maturation of innate mindreading “modules” (Baron-Cohen 1995). (shrink)