Seminar #32: How Enactivism relates to Reflexive Monism
This week we will have another special Life and Mind seminar!
When: Wednesday, 13th Feb., at 16:30
Where: Room Pev1 1A01
We are very pleased to have Prof. Max Velmans, from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, talk to us about his work. His main research interest is in the area of consciousness studies, with a particular focus on integrating work in philosophy, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and mind/body relationships in clinical practice.
He will be speaking on:
How Enactivism Relates to Reflexive Monism
Abstract. Dualists believe that experiences have neither location nor extension, while reductive and ‘non-reductive’ physicalists (biological naturalists) believe that experiences are really in the brain, producing an apparent impasse in current theories of mind. Enactive and reflexive models of perception try to resolve this impasse with a form of “externalism” that challenges the assumption that experiences must either be nowhere or in the brain. However, they are externalist in very different ways. Insofar as they locate experiences anywhere, enactive models locate conscious phenomenology in the dynamic interaction of organisms with the external world, and in some versions, they reduce conscious phenomenology to such interactions, in the hope that this will resolve the “hard” problems of consciousness. The reflexive model accepts that experiences of the world result from dynamic organism-environment interactions, but argues that such interactions are preconscious. While the resulting phenomenal world is a consequence of such interactions, it cannot be reduced to them. The reflexive model is externalist in its claim that this external phenomenal world, which we normally think of as the “physical world,” is literally outside the brain. Furthermore, there are no added conscious experiences of the external world inside the brain. In closing the gap between the phenomenal world and what we normally think of as the physical world, the reflexive model of perception and the broader reflexive monism it supports provide a different approach to the hard problems of consciousness. Conversely, while enactive models have useful things to say about percept formation and representation, they fail to address the hard problems of consciousness.
Velmans, M (2007), Dualist, reductionist, enactive and reflexive accounts of phenomenal consciousness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 6(4), 547-563.
Velmans, M. (2008), Reflexive monism. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 15 (2), (in press)
Both papers are available online.
NOTE: In order to make the discussion as fruitful as possible, I suggest that everyone has a look at his 2007 paper, which can be downloaded from here: http://cogprints.org/4742/