Ecological-enactive scientific cognition: modeling and material engagement

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1:1-19 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Ecological-enactive approaches to cognition aim to explain cognition in terms of the dynamic coupling between agent and environment. Accordingly, cognition of one’s immediate environment (which is sometimes labeled “basic” cognition) depends on enaction and the picking up of affordances. However, ecological-enactive views supposedly fail to account for what is sometimes called “higher” cognition, i.e., cognition about potentially absent targets, which therefore can only be explained by postulating representational content. This challenge levelled against ecological-enactive approaches highlights a putative explanatory gap between basic and higher cognition. In this paper, we examine scientific cognition—a paradigmatic case of higher cognition—and argue that it shares fundamental features with basic cognition, for enaction and affordance selection are central to the scientific enterprise. Our argument focuses on modeling, and on how models promote scientific understanding. We base our argument on a non-representational account of scientific understanding and on the material engagement theory, for models are hereby conceived as material objects designed for scientific engagements. Having done so, we conclude that the explanatory gap is significantly less threatening to the ecological-enactive approach than it might appear.

Similar books and articles

Enactive Music Cognition: Background and Research Themes.J. R. Matyja & A. Schiavio - 2013 - Constructivist Foundations 8 (3):351-357.
Cognition and behavior.Ken Aizawa - 2017 - Synthese 194 (11):4269-4288.
Distal engagement: Intentions in perception.Nick Brancazio & Miguel Segundo Ortin - 2020 - Consciousness and Cognition 79 (March 2020).


Added to PP

697 (#24,010)

6 months
183 (#16,310)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Giovanni Rolla
Universidade Federal da Bahia

Citations of this work

Bringing forth a world, literally.Giovanni Rolla & Nara Figueiredo - 2023 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 22 (4):931-953.
Radical artifactualism.Guilherme Sanches de Oliveira - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-33.
The strong program in embodied cognitive science.Guilherme Sanches de Oliveira - 2023 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 22 (4):841-865.

Add more citations