CONFERENCE ESPRA 2
QUESTIONS for discussion time
[pdf] The controversial nature of (intransitive) gestures.
Limb apraxia is usually conceived as a deficit in processing meaningful or meaningless gestures. Meaningless gestures are gestures that carry no meaning (eg, “Fist under the chin”). Meaningful gestures include transitive (use of real objects), intransitive gestures (eg, expressive) or pantomimes (the mime of object use). Dissociations among gestures found in neurological population suggest that they are subserved by different cognitive mechanisms. However, among others, the nature of intransitive gestures is controversial. Intransitive gestures can be expressive (“I’m cold”), communicative (“Go there”), descriptive (“It’s round”), or symbolic (“Military salute”). There is reason to think that some intransitive gestures call for specific mechanisms related to theory of mind. The ability to process intransitive gestures relies on both praxic and social/communicative skills.
- What is limb apraxia?
- What's the difference between pantomimes (eg, mime of the use of a glass) and intransitive gestures (a gesture meaning "do you want to drink?")?
- A selective deficit in processing intransitive gestures: cases already reported?
- H.L. Gallagher and C.D. Frith (2004) Neuropsychologia.
-[pdf] A. Bartolo et al. (2003) Brain and Cognition
-[pdf] A. Bartolo et al. (2001) Cortex.
Mine, in my mind, in my body --- on three concepts of ownership
Taking into account various pathologies of self-awareness has led philosophers and psychologists to distinguish between the sense of agency and the sense of ownership for mental states (Gallagher, 2000). On a phenomenological ground, I argue that we should make further distinctions between at least three concepts of ownership for cognitive and bodily states: one phenomenal concept of ownership (``mine") and two spatial concepts of ownership (``in my mind / in me'', ``in such and such bodily part"). I claim that these distinctions allow to take the patient's introspective reports at face value and thus to make sense of their pathologies.Finally, I evaluate the conceptual and empirical links between those three concepts of ownership.
- Is there a sense in which thoughts appear to be spatially located in one's body ?
- Patients suffering from somatoparaphrenia sometimes report feeling sensations in an arm they disown. Conversely, are there cases of patients who report feeling sensations they disown in a limb for which they have a feeling of ownership ? Are there reasons to think that such a condition should be, if not impossible, at least extremly labile ?
- It is often claimed that the rubber hand illusion contradicts strong versions of the immunity principle. But is it clear that we should interpret the rubber hand illusion as a misidentification of one's hand rather than as a mislocation of one's hand ?
- [html] Gallagher, S. 2000. Self-Reference and Schizophrenia: A Cognitive Model of Immunity to Error through Misidentification, in Exploring the Self: Philosophical and Psychopathological Perspectives on Self-experience, ed. Dan Zahavi. (pp. 203-239). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
- [pdf] De Vignemont, F. 2007 Habeas Corpus: The Sense of Ownership of One's Own Body, Mind and Language (2007) 427-449 Mind and Language (2007) 427-449
Conscious perception of action space.
The conscious experience of a continuous external world contrasts to some extent with the conscious experience of a discontinuous action space: What we see is not what we can reach. More specifically, the world in which one moves and interacts is incredibly well-organised, and is lived as homogenous and continuous both through time and space. However, it seems obvious that interactions with this world are constrained by body properties. A cup can be grasped only if our arm is long enough to reach it, and only if our fingers are strong enough to lift it. Under these circumstances, functional boundaries acquired with experience must serve as the basis for intentional selection and optimal control of motor acts. We will present neuroscientific evidences that suggest that the underlying mechanism for perceptually determining what is reachable involves interactions between visual and motor representations. During visuo-spatial processing, motor representations can be implicitly activated to provide the self with information on the feasibility of potential actions. By simulating potential actions, the motor system can emulate and anticipate the sensory consequences of self-generated movements, which can subsequently be used to specify the limit of .the peripersonal space. Variation in the perceptual judgement of what is reachable when recalibrating the visuo-motor system, in presence of an impaired sensory motor system due to peripheral deafferentation, or when inhibiting motor brain areas using TMS provide arguments in favour of the simulation hypothesis and suggest that representations of the body at both the experiential and functional level serve as the basis for categorising external space.
[pdf] Emotional experience and emotional expression; lessons from Moebius Syndrome.
Moebius Syndrome is a rare congenital condition affecting the rhomboencephalon (midbrain and brain stem) whose cardinal features are losses of abduction of the eyes and absence of facial expression. It can also produce tongue, jaw and hand problems, poor motor coordination and some suggest learning difficulties and autism.
Because of its somatic features there can be difficulties in interpersonal relatedness which are overcome to varying amounts by people with Moebius. Extended narratives from people with Moebius will be given to enable reflections on the face as an expressive embodiment and individual identifier of self from the experiences of those who live without it.
Brains are blind, deaf and dumb: a look at the physiology of embodiment and it’s consequences for the study of consciousness.
The neuro-centric trend in cognitive neurosciences assumes that the brain (or a subset of it) is the cause of conscious experience. Yet even a cursory look at basic physiology makes this claim highly questionable. Considering the body merely as the enabling condition of a somehow lucid brain does not take into account the deep functional relation that exists between these two immensely complex systems.
- What are the minimal requirements for subjectivity?
- What would an experimentally falsifiable prediction of the embodied approach look like?
- Can one formulate explicit conditions under which a neuro-centric approach should be dismissed?
- [pdf] Kutas & Federmeier (1998), “Minding the Body”, Psychophysiology 35: 135-150.
- [pdf] Searle (1998), “How to study consciousness scientifically”, Phil.Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B, 353: 1935-1942.
- Hans Jonas' introduction to The Phenomenon of Life.
A pre-reflective Indicator of an impaired sense of Agency in patients with Schizophrenia
In schizophrenia, passivity phenomenon are clinically related to an abnormal sense of agency, which has been experimentally studied through self-recognition tasks. However, it has recently been shown in healthy controls that the sense of agency is distinct from self-recognition abilities. We have developed a simple motor task – using collision dynamics – to obtain an implicit indicator of the working status of the pre-reflective sense of agency in healthy subjects, in neurological and functional pathologies. The second part of the talk will present results obtained in late and early onset schizophrenia to show how the collision paradigm helped to demonstrate the efficacy of fMRI-guided rTMS in the treatment of verbal auditory hallucinations in treatment-resistant patients with schizophrenia.
- What is attention?
- What may be the role of selective attention in the sense of agency?
- Why is there a dissociation between sense of agency and positive symptoms in most patient studies?
- Jardri et al. 2007 (Molecular Biology)
- Bulot et al. 2007 (Experimental Brain Research)
- developmental aspects of drive and guidance
- object-based and representation-based actions
On corporeal prostheses as a necessary means for bodily self-awareness
When it comes to cultural consciousness and cultural achievements, humans are considered as essentially equipped with artificial prostheses (e.g. tools, but also writing). Culture is by definition of the order of prosthetic extensions.When is comes to more ’basic’ kinds of consciousness, such as bodily self-awareness and the feeling of body ownership, the prosthetic point of view is abandoned, and humans are considered from a more exclusively biological/physiological point of view, in which bodily boundaries are taken for granted. In this presentation, however, the prosthetic point of view with regard to bodily self-awareness is explored: are corporeal prostheses also necessary means for bodily self-awareness?
Top-down or a bottom-up perspective?
Bernard Stiegler, La technique et le temps
Litteraure of body-ownership and agency (e.g. Manos Tsakiris papers...click here for .pdfs)
Embodiment and models of psychopathology
Psychiatry, the branch of medicine dealing with mental disorder, is becoming more closely allied with cognitive science. It is now common to hear psychiatric disorders described as “disturbances to recognized information-processing systems” underlain by neural structures (Halligan and David 2001) and it has recently been claimed that “psychiatry just is clinical cognitive neuroscience” (Murphy 2006). The emphasis in these accounts is on the computational and representational nature of classical cognitive science, and the implementation of cognitive states and conscious experiences is assumed to be neural. I will consider the prospect of retaining what is useful about this model of psychiatry while exploring a less neuro-centric, more embodied approach to understanding, explaining and classifying psychopathology, including disorders of consciousness and self-consciousness.
- How can an embodied or enactive approach to mentality be reconciled with a standard model of mental disorder?
- [pdf] Shaun Gallagher (2005), How the Body Shapes the Mind – especially chapters 6 and 8
- Evan Thompson (2007), Mind in Life – especially chapters 8 and 9
- Dominic Murphy (2006) Psychiatry in the Scientific Image
- Peter W Halligan & Anthony S David, Cognitive neuropsychiatry: towards a scientific psychopathology, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2, 209-215 (March 2001)
My hands, touching
The example of my one hand touching my other hand has often been used in the phenomenological tradition to illustrate the difference between the lived body, the body as experiencing, and the experienced or objectified body. In my presentation I will examine the different readings of this example provided by Husserl, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. I will use their descriptions to reflect on a number of philosophical notions that goes into their descriptions and to raise some questions. Does one of the senses, touch, for example, have a primacy when it comes to the constitution of the body as one’s own body? What is the relation between self-affection, pre-reflective bodily self-awareness, and the idea of ”double sensation” that is sometimes implied in the descriptions of the touching/touched hands?
- What to make of the distinction between lived body and the body as object?
- Can a case be made for the idea of ”double sensation”?
- What does bodily self-affection entail for the idea of selfhood at a bodily level?
- Husserl (Ideas II, Section 2, Chapter 3)
- Sartre (Being and Nothingness)
- Merleau-Ponty (Phenomenology of Perception).
Brain, Body and Beyond: Is there a place for representations?
In the paper “Are minimal representations still representations?” I argue against the idea of representation in action (i.e., that action requires mental representations) and in favor of a scientific pragmatism about representations. In my ESPRA presentation I want to focus on the latter idea. Non-controversially, representations can be found ubiquitously in the world, and as such they are always entering into our cognitive process. Beyond that, I argue that there are no representations in brain or in embodied action – that at best the concept of representation is a heuristic that is for the most part over- and mis-used in cognitive science. To clarify this I consider Pierce’s triadic concept of representation and its role in an integrated model of cognition (cf. Menary 2007).
- [pdf] Gallagher, S. (forthcoming). Are minimal representations still representations? International Journal of Philosophical Studies.
- Menary, R. 2007. Cognitive Integration: Mind and Cognition Unbounded. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Visual experience and action
Recent philosophical accounts of human agency have been impressed by data from the cognitive neurosciences apparently demonstrating that visual information is processed along two separate streams: one for action-control and one for visual awareness. These philosophical accounts take this to show the existence of a dissociation between what the agent thinks she is doing and what she is actually doing. In my talk I discuss the apparent conflict between neuroscientific data on vision for action and our commonsense conception of intentional agency. I try to show that the idea of a conflict follows from a wrong separation of perceptual experience, intention, and action.
- Grünbaum, T. Trying and the arguments from total failure, forthcoming in Philosophia
- Grünbaum, T. The body in action, forthcoming in Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Time and the Bodily Self
Antonio Damasio has distinguished core consciousness which is the sense of self an organism has in the here and now from extended consciousness which he characterizes as the awareness an organism has of its past and of an anticipated future. I doubt that any sense can be made of our experience of the here and now except in relation to what has just been (the recent past) and what is about to occur (the near future). What are the implications of the temporally extended now for how we think about the bodily self?
- Can we think of the bodily self as a self-representation and if not why not?
- Does bodily self-awareness have priority over our awareness of other selves? Can we defend a no-priority claim? If not, in what sense does bodily self-awareness have priority over our awareness of others? Is the priority developmental or is it ontological
- What role does bodily self-awareness play in the representation of spatial properties?
- To what extent does the idea of a bodily self challenge the strong two visual systems hypothesis?
- Is bodily self-awareness a by-product of the relations between reafferent and exafferent information? Couldn’t these relations hold without anything like bodily self-awareness? If so what is the extra ingredient that is required for bodily self-awareness?
- Can we understand sense of ownership in terms of retentional awareness (our awareness of what has just been) and sense of agency in terms of protentional awareness (our awareness of what is about to occur)?
[pdf] Shaun Gallagher (2005) How the body shapes the mind. Chap 8.
[pdf] The Contemplative Body.
Contrary to popular misunderstandings, Buddhist contemplative practices are not exclusively mentalistic, inner-directed retreats intended to isolate the practitioner from the social world. Rather, they are in fact largely somatic exercises intended to deepen our sociality—our other-directed, felt relationship to the world and other people. Put differently, contemplative practices are said to cultivate different aspects of our embodiment, thus enabling more skillful and compassionate engagement with others. While interesting recent research has focused specific ally on the neural dynamics of meditation and contemplative practice, I want to broaden the purview of this focus and investigate the following questions: How does our bodily being-in-the-world purportedly change following different forms of Buddhist contemplative practice? In what ways might our bodily subjectivity be meaningfully transformed? I will discuss these questions as they relate to different aspects of embodiment, including its biological, ecological, phenomenological, social, and cultural dimensions.
Laureys (Re)presented by Athena
The challenge of disentangling reportability and consciousness in coma survivors
The vegetative state (VS) and the minimally conscious state (MCS) are disorders of consciousness (DOC), the study of which can shed more light on its neural correlates. In this case, consciousness is defined operationally as having two major components: arousal (or level of consciousness) and awareness (or content of consciousness). I will present empirical data from behavioral, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging studies that (a) will clarify the relationship of these two components in healthy and DOC patients, (b) support that consciousness is emerged via the functional integrity of the cerebral cortex and its connection with some subcortical structures.
- Can the residual brain function after acute brain injury account for conscious experience (perception of self; of pain; of thirst) in DOC patients?
- What are the scientific and clinical implications from the study of DOC?
- Which are the ethical considerations that arise from the study of DOC?
References: (pdfs available at www.comascience.org):
- Laureys S, Eyes open, brain shut: the vegetative state, Scientific American, 4 (2007) 32-37.
- Laureys S and Boly M, What is it like to be vegetative or minimally conscious ? Current Opinion in Neurology, 20 (2007) 609-13.
- Laureys S, Perrin F, Brédart S, Self-consciousness in non-communicative patients, Consciousness & Cognition, 16 (2007) 722-741.
- Owen AM, Coleman MR, Boly M, Davis MH, Laureys S, Pickard J, Detecting awareness in the vegetative state, Science 313 (2006) 1402.
- Owen AM, Coleman MR, Boly M, Davis MH, Laureys S, Jolles D, Pickard J, Response to comments on “Detecting awareness in the vegetative state” [technical comment], Science 315 (2007) 1221.
[pdf] Bodily Presence.
I will propose some conceptual distinctions between reflective, reflexive, pre-reflective and pre-reflexive forms of self-consciousness. I will focus on the bodily aspects of each of these forms of subjective experience. On this basis, I will argue that both the body-as-object and the body-as-subject are experienced in multiple ways which are irreducible to each other and all participate in an integrative manner to the sense of oneself as a bodily subject.
- Can we reach consensual definitions of reflective, reflexive, pre-reflective and pre-reflexive forms of (bodily) self-consciousness, that would be relevant at the experiential, theoretical, clinical and empirical levels?
- Can we overcome current methodological difficulties and find ways to expriment with the body-as-subject in cognitive neuroscience?
- Could we (partly?) get rid of the body: normal and pathological cases of dissociation between different forms of bodily self-consciousness, normal and pathological cases of non-bodily self-consciousness?
[pdf] Legrand D (2007) Subjectivity and the Body: Introducing basic forms of self-consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition, 16, 3, 577-582.
Is there a vestibular contribution to self-consciousness?
The vestibular system provides concurrent signals about gravity and one’s body position and motion in space. Many studies have shown that the vestibular signal contributes to spatial cognition, but its role in own body experience has been less investigated. I will present clinical data from neuro-otology and neuropsychology supporting that vestibular cues are involved in embodiment, self-localization and self-attribution (body ownership). I will also summarize experimental data showing that artificial stimulation of the vestibular system, like caloric and galvanic stimulation, are important tools for investigating the neural mechanisms of self-localization and self-attribution, and eventually of self-consciousness.
- Multisensory integration for embodiment and self-consciousness
- Methods: importance of the virtual environments for studying subjectivity and self-consciousness
- Pathology of embodiment, subjectivity, self-consciousness
- What are the neural bases of embodiment, self-consciousness, and are they different from that of consciousness?
- [pdf] Lenggenhager B., Lopez C. and Blanke O. (2007) Influence of galvanic vestibular stimulation on egocentric and object-based mental transformations. Exp Brain Res. In press.
- [pdf] Lopez C. and Blanke O. (2007) Neuropsychology and neurophysiology of self-consciousness. Multisensory and vestibular mechanisms. In: Holderegger A., Sitter-Liver B. and Hess C. W. (Eds.). Hirnforschung und Menschenbild. Beiträge zur interdisziplinären Verständigung. In press.
- Lopez C., Halje P. and Blanke O. (2007) Body ownership and embodiment. Vestibular and multisensory mechanisms. Neurophysiol Clin/Clin Neurophysiol. In press.
- Lackner J.R. and Dizio P. (2005) Vestibular, proprioceptive, and haptic contributions to spatial orientation. Annu Rev Psychol, 56: 115-47.
- Brandt T, Dieterich M (1999) The vestibular cortex. Its locations, functions, and disorders. Ann N Y Acad Sci 871: 293-312.
- [pdf] Blanke O, Ortigue S, Landis T, Seeck M (2002) Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions. Nature 419: 269-270.
- Bottini G, Paulesu E, Sterzi R, Warburton E, Wise RJ, Vallar G, Frackowiak RS, Frith CD (1995) Modulation of conscious experience by peripheral sensory stimuli. Nature 376: 778-781
- Pizzamiglio L, Vallar G, Doricchi F (1995) Gravity and hemineglect. Neuroreport 7: 370-371
[pdf] Self-awareness, perception and agency
A recent account of visual perception builds upon the dual visual systems hypothesis, claiming that to perceive visually is to be poised over the set of possible ways in which intentional goals might be accomplished. This account draw perception apart from embodied, sensori-motor activity. Whilst the processing attributed to the non-conscious stream may be understood as enabling minimal subjectivity, acceptance of the paradigm suggests this is in fact implicit. However, whilst prima facie it is unclear what kinds of self-awareness are necessary for conscious visual experience, I will argue that if the links between planning, intention and perceptual exerience are as tight as is conjectured, then certain forms of non-conceptual self-consciousness are required.
- Is a (non-conceptual?) understanding of ‘other’ necessary for self-consciousness? And for what kind of self-consciousness?
[pdf] Ward, Dave, Roberts, Tom, & Clark, Andy (Submitted) ‘Knowing What We Can Do: Actions, Intentions, and the Construction of Phenomenal Experience’
Expanding the field of phenomenological investigation.
Most of current phenomenological investigations can be characterized by a specific and rich conceptual framework, a knowledge of the main structural properties of experience, and sometimes their resort to a “first person methodology” that makes it possible to describe certain contents of prereflexive consciousness.
Surprisingly however, one aspect seems to remain neglected within current phenomenological descriptions, namely the search for experiential situations that enable the emergence of certain unusual phenomena. While there is a strong interest for “abnormal experiences” related to psychopathological conditions, there is comparatively few interest for “unusual” but reproducible experiences, that may gather the conditions of emergence of certain phenomena that couldn’t be observed in other circumstances.
The bodily experience is a good opportunity to draw attention to the variations of experience (of oneself, of one’s body) according to the ego’s underlying activity. The bodily experience is quite different during every-day life, during sports efforts (such as climbing or jogging), during dance improvisation, during Tai-chi practice and during meditation. Some explanations on this matter can be mentioned.
I shall argue that the phenomenological investigation of the bodily foundations of self consciousness may be enriched by focusing on certain privileged experiences within which certain specific phenomenal contents arise. One can even consider as a part of first person methodologies the selection and specification of such privileged experiential conditions.
- What kind of phenomenal contents are basically dependant on the ego’s activity ?
- How can be explained the emergence of certain bodily phenomena in privileged situations ?
Josef Parnas (Re)presented by Andrea
[pdf] Phenomenological psychopathology: the descriptive structure of self-experience in schizophrenia.
Background: Disorders of self-experience were already described in the classic psychiatric literature as central subjective phenomena of the schizophrenia spectrum disorders. They were recently “rediscovered” in European psychopathological empirical studies. Aim: To perform a phenomenological analysis of the experiential hierarchy of experiential self-disorders. Methods: A qualitative investigation of newly collected empirical data from 50 first-admitted patients. Results and conclusions: It is proposed that the most basic feature consists of instability in the perspectival articulation of awareness, giving rise to the disorders of ownership (mine-ness), sense of identity/unity, and sense of boundedness (ego-boundaries).
Vipashyanâ meditation and bodily experience
My presentation will focus on a particular mode of vipashyanâ ("insight") Buddhist meditation*, both simple and difficult, which consists in paying sustained, precise and receptive attention to the bodily sensations which arise instant after instant. This training enables the practitioner to become aware of increasingly precocious and subtle phases of the process of emergence of a sensation. He then discovers with amazement that the characteristics of perceptive experience he used to take for granted - for example the distinction between an "internal" and an "external" space, between a perceiving subject and a perceived object – far from being givens, are the result of a complex process of co-determination. At the same time, this process fades by itself: these distinctions become more and more permeable and finally vanish. In the Buddhist perspective, this meditation technique does not aim to elicit an extraordinary experience, but enables the practitioner to recognize the true nature of his ordinary experience.
* The main text of reference for this practice is the Satipatthâna-sutta.
- Would it be pertinent and feasible to integrate such a first person micro-dynamic approach in our research on bodily experience?
- Which changes and refinements could this perspective contribute to our understanding of the senses of body ownership and agency? Could this perspective cast a new light on the pathological deficiencies of these senses?
- What does this practice teach us about the pre-reflective character of bodily experience?
References (my publications on the subject):
Petitmengin C., Le chemin du milieu. Introduction à la vacuité dans la pensée bouddhiste indienne, Éditions Dervy, Paris, 2007
Petitmengin C., "L’énaction comme expérience vécue", Intellectica 2006/1, n° 43, pp. 85-92 (http://claire.petitmengin.free.fr/topic2/intellectica-enaction-tir-part.pdf)
[pdf] Petitmengin C., "Towards the source of thoughts. The gestural and transmodal dimension of lived experience", Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol. 14, n° 3 (2007), pp. 54-82.
[pdf] Shared representations of actions and action attribution.
We normally take it for granted that our body builds an entity independent from other bodies in the outside world and we can easily attribute body states and actions to the self or to another agent. However, the recent discovery of shared representations of actions, such as those provided by mirror neurons, suggests that action attribution is a key computational problem for the sensorimotor system of the brain. If our brain represents others’ actions in the same way as one’s own how do we distinguish self and other? Recent empirical studies will be presented which investigated possible mechanisms underlying action attribution and self-recognition.
Body space/Action space.
Recent work on the spatial content of bodily experience has suggested that it cannot be organised in an egocentric frame of reference. I provide an explanation of why egocentric terms still make sense in the context of bodily experience, whilst further suggesting that spatial representations of the body are essentially action-orientated.
- Do (centrally and peripherally) deafferented patients have any sense of themselves as bodily?
- Is bodily self-consciousness necessary for bodily selfhood?
- Do we need to posit a personal level spatial framework to explain the spatiality of bodily experience?
- What (if any) are the constitutive relations between observational and non-observational bodily experience?
- Bermudez, J. L. (2005). The phenomenology of bodily awareness. In D. W. Smith & A. L. Thomasson (Eds.), Phenomenology and philosophy of mind (pp. 295-316). Clarendon: Oxford University Press.
-[html] Gallagher, S. (2003). Bodily self-awareness and object perception. Theoria et Historia Scientiarum: International Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies, 7(1).
-[html] Grush, R. (1998). Skill and spatial content. Electric Journal of Analytic Philosophy: Special issue on the philosophy of Gareth Evans, (6). Retrieved December 14, 2007.
-[pdf] Legrand, D., Brozzoli, C., Rosetti, Y. & Farne, A. (2007). Close to me: Multisensory space representations for action and pre-reflexive consciousness of oneself-in-the-world. Consciousness and Cognition. 16(3), 687-699.
- Gallagher, S. (2007). The spatiality of situation: Comment on Legrand et. al. Consciousness and Cognition. 16(3), 700-702.
[pdf presentation] [pdf paper] Two responses to Cosmelli and Thompson's "Embodiment or Envatment"
Cosmelli and Thompson (forthcoming) claim that the body and the environment play a greater part in consciousness than just providing the right inputs to the brain. They suggest that if the brain in a vat thought experiment is worked out in enough detail then rather than pumping the orthodox intuition that if the brain is given the right inputs consciousness will arise, the opposite intuition is pumped; that physical embodiment is required for consciousness. I will focus on two points: whether they succeed in showing this without falling in to the causal/constitution fallacy; and given the reliance on tightness of coupling, whether they can avoid the explanatory spread of consciousness out into the environment.
- [pdf] Cosmelli, D and Thompson E.. (Forthcoming) ‘Embodiment or Envatment: Reflections on the Bodily Basis of Consciousness’ To appear in John Stewart, Olivier Gapenne, and Ezequiel di Paolo, (eds).,Enaction: Towards a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science, (MIT Press)
Brain in a vat or body in a world? On the biological requirements of pre-reflective self-consciousness.
This talk will contrast neurocentric versus enactive approaches to the biology of consciousness. It will explore the enactive hypothesis that the biological substrate for consciousness is not simply the brain, but densely coupled neuronal and extraneuronal (somatic) systems that constitute an autonomous sensorimotor agent.
- How can we distinguish between what causally contributes to consciousness and what biologically constitutes consciousness?
- What concrete empirical hypotheses and predictions can be formulated to test enactive approaches to consciousness (that emphasize neural-somatic substrates) versus neurocentric approaches (that emphasize exclusively neural correlates)?
[pdf] Thompson, E. (with Diego Cosmelli) Embodiment or envatment: Reflections on the bodily basis of consciousness. In John Stewart, Olivier Gapenne, and Ezequiel di Paolo, eds., Enaction: Towards a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science, MIT Press, forthcoming.
Looking for myself: preliminary evidence on the interaction between multisensory integration and self-face recognition.
Even though our physical sense of self is jointly constituted by our physical appearance, of which the face is perhaps its most distinctive feature, and by our sensing and acting body, there has been no direct research link between these two main aspects of selfhood, face and body. In a sense, psychological research has focused either on “body-less faces” by using self-face recognition tasks that depend on the retrieval of visual representations of one’s face, or on “face-less bodies” by investigating how current sensory inflow interacts with motor signals and body-representations. Both traditions have advanced our understanding of self-face and self-body representations respectively, even though, to date, the interaction between the two has not been investigated. Body-recognition studies conclude that multisensory integration is the main cue to selfhood. Self-face recognition studies conclude that visual recognition of stored visual features and configurations inform self- recognition. However, the evidence used in one tradition may have an unrecognised importance in the other. Thus, multisensory evidence for selfhood is widely recognised for bodies, but it may also be important for self-face recognition. How do I know the person I see in the mirror is really me? Is it because I know the person looks like me, as accounts of visual face perception might suggest, or is it because the mirror reflection moves when I move, and I see it being touched when I feel touch myself, as accounts of body representation imply? Or is it a combination of both, and how is this combination determined?
The body of the other.
That we are embodied minds or minded bodies is not only of importance when considering and articulating the nature of self-experience. A proper phenomenological analysis of our embodiment is bound to have repercussions for our understanding of the mind-world relation and the relation between self and other as well. In my presentation I will focus on the latter topic. The basic question I wish to ask is the following: To what extent does the embodied nature of foreign subjectivity make it directly accessible? To what extent can we experience foreign subjectivity, to what extent is foreign subjectivity something that is hidden and concealed.
- Edith Stein: On the problem of empathy
- Max Scheler: The nature of sympathy
- Dan Zahavi: ”Expression and empathy.” In D. Hutto & M. Ratcliffe (eds.): Folk Psychology Reassessed. Springer, 2007.