The sciences of the mind –philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and computer science– have traditionally considered cognitive, sensorimotor, and affective processes as separate domains. However, now we are facing a much more complex scenario. An evergrowing body of evidence suggests that the body, the environment, and cultural and social dynamics are as important to cognitive, affective and sensorimotor processes as what happens in the brain. Our sociocultural context, our emotions, what we perceive, think, and do reciprocally shape each other. This point of view cuts across traditional dichotomies such as mind/body, reason/emotion, and internalism/externalism. However, in order to tackle these transversal issues there is an increasing need for applying interdisciplinary concepts and methodologies able to connect research from different approaches.
In this seminar, Carlos Vara Sánchez will focus on one interdisciplinary framework and one interdisciplinary methodology that are gaining importance, for they allow philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists to work together and combine their theories and results into holistic proposals. The approach is the so-called ‘4E cognition’. Coined by Shaun Gallagher in 2007, this term aimed to encompass already existing contributions that focused on the embodied, enactive, embedded, and extended nature of certain processes of cognition (Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1991; Clark 1996; Thompson 2007; Gallagher 2017; Newen, De Bruin and Gallagher 2020). On the other hand, the interdisciplinary methodology that will be presented is the dynamical systems approach (also referred to a dynamic systems theory or dynamical systems theory). This branch of mathematics focuses on the changes over time of a system through non-linear dynamics. However, in this seminar, the author will limit himself to characterize some concepts from the dynamic approach that are always more used in theoretical models of cognitive processes such as state variables, attractor, repellor, self-organization or constraint.
These two elements (4E cognition and dynamical systems) perfectly combine with each other. For the proponents of 4E approaches to cognition, the brain, the body, and the environment conform an evolving but unitary system, and therefore need to be understood from the perspective of the science of dynamic systems.
The structure of the seminar will be as follows:
- Putting the ‘Es’ in 4E cognition. An introduction to the notions of embodied, embedded, extended, and enactive cognition.
- Variations on 4E cognition and its conceptual consequences
- Presenting dynamic systems theory: some relevant notions.
- Some recent proposals on cognitive processes that integrate results from dynamical systems.
Lecturer: Carlos Vara Sánchez – MSCA fellow, Complutense University of Madrid
Carlos Vara Sánchez (Ph.D. in Humanities) is a two-time Marie-Skłodowska-Curie research fellow, previously at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (2018-2021) and currently at Complutense University of Madrid (2022-2025), where he conducts a project on the reciprocal relation between actions, affective states, and intersubjective processes.
His research interests are aesthetics, affectivity, and cognition from an embodied and enactive perspective with a particular focus on dynamic notions such as rhythm, affordance, and attunement.
These topics are at the core of his publications in international journals and edited volumes.
Date: 27th March 2023 (Monday)
Time: 16:00-17:30 (Eastern European Time)
Format: Online session via Zoom
Registration: You may register by clicking the button on the right