The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Battle08 Information

Information for participants:

More details about the workshop program, directions to the venue and other important information will become available here soon. Please select one of the following options:

Travel information:

Here is some initial information about the best way to travel to the workshop venue. Gatwick Airport is the nearest airport and has good train connections. To get to Battle it is easiest to take a train to Battle station (near Hastings) and then take a taxi from the station to PowderMills Hotel.

For a Google map of the Hotel please click here.

Workshop program:

This is the “final” draft of the workshop program. You can download it here as a PDF.


A1: Participatory sense-making. Short talk, discussion, game. Hanne, Steve.
A2: Second person methods. Video and discussion, Claire.
A3: Discussion on mirror neurons. Rachel, Ezequiel
A4: Movement workshop. Maxine
A5: Language and limits to enaction. Stephen, Rob.
A6: Demos, posters, breakout into groups.
A7: Panel on social science, ethics, art. John, Chris, Steve, Bill.
A8: Focused discussion in groups.

Suggested reading:

The following papers are mainly about the theory and philosophy of the enactive approach to social cognition:

  • Thompson, E. (2001), “Empathy and consciousness”, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8(5-7): 1-32 (PDF)
  • De Jaegher, H., and Di Paolo, E. A. (2007), “Participatory sense-making: An enactive approach to social cognition”, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 6(4): 485 – 507 (PDF)
  • Gallagher, S. (2008) “Direct perception in the intersubjective context”, Consciousness and Cognition, 17, 535-543 (PDF)
  • De Jaegher, H. (submitted) “Social understanding by direct percetion? Yes, by interacting”, under review; this is a reply to Gallagher (2008), (PDF)
  • Petitmengin, C. (2007), “Towards the source of thoughts: The gestural and transmodal dimension of lived experience”, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 14(3): 54-82 (PDF)

The following publications are mainly about simulation models related to the enactive approach to social cognition:

  • Di Paolo, E. A., Rohde, M. and Iizuka, H. (2008), “Sensitivity to social contingency or stability of interaction? Modelling the dynamics of perceptual crossing”, New Ideas in Psychology, in press (PDF)
  • Froese, T. & Di Paolo, E. A. (2008), “Stability of coordination requires mutuality of interaction in a model of embodied agents”, in: M. Asada et al. (eds.), From animals to animats 10: Proc. of the 10th Int. Conf. on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior, Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, pp. 52-61 (PDF)

The following publications introduce main results and ideas from research on mirror neurons:

  • Iacoboni, M. et al. (2005), “Grasping the intentions of others with one’s own mirror neuron system”, PLoS Biology, 3, e79 (PDF)
  • Gallese, V., Keysers, C. and Rizzolatti, G. (2004) “A unifying view of the basis of social cognition” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 396-403 (PDF)

The following papers are mainly about psychological and phenomenological experiments:

  • Auvray, M., Lenay, C. & Stewart, J. (2008), “Perceptual interactions in a minimalist virtual environment”, New Ideas in Psychology, in press (PDF)
  • Petitmengin, C. (2006), “Describing one’s subjective experience in the second person: An interview method for the science of consciousness”, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 5(3-4), pp. 229-269 (PDF)

Movement Workshop:

If the body is part of our discourse, why not let it speak?

Led by Maxine Sheets-Johnstone.

The movement workshop will provide a communal experiential point of departure for discussions about elemental aspects of our human sociality. The workshop requires no formal movement training of any kind–no prior involvement in dance, gymnastics, or any particular sport activity. Neither does it involve learning new movement techniques or skills. It will draw on wholly natural kinetic dimensions of our humanness and basic facets of our interpersonal lives. You will be most comfortable if you wear non binding clothes and have no reservations about removing your shoes.

Keynote abstracts:

These are the abstracts for the three invited keynote speakers.

An enactive approach to the recognition of others and imitation of facial expression. The collective dynamics of perceptual crossing

Charles Lenay

How in everyday life or through technical devices (such as Internet), can we have the impression of the presence of another subject, and under which conditions can we differenciate another person from an object or a program? Dominant approaches in the philosophy of mind consider that this is the problem of the adoption of an intentional stance: identifying the behavioural criteria which trigger the representation of the perceived object by an internal system of naive psychology (Premack, 1990; Cisbra et al., 1999; Meltzoff & Decety, 2004). This psychology poses many problems, in particular, how to account for the mutual recognition without falling into the aporias of the inclusion of representations: I have to have the representation of his representation of my representation of… his perception. Furthermore, in this approach, the recognition of another subject is only hypothetical, resulting from an inference based on well-defined perceptions.

Read the rest of this abstract here.

Animation: The Fundamental, Properly Descriptive, and Essential Concept

Maxine Sheets-Johnstone

When we strip the lexical band-aid ‘embodiment‘ off the 350+ year-old wound inflicted by the Cartesian split of mind and body, we find animation, the foundational dimension of the living. Everything living is animated. Flowers turn toward the sun; pill bugs curl into spheres; lambs rise on untried legs, finding their way into patterned coordinations. The phenomenon of movement testifies to animation as the foundational dimension of the living. Morphogenetical kinetic capacities testify as well to animation: cells divide in complex processes of mitosis and meiosis; seedlings mature; trees heal cuttings humans make on them. In short, self-regulated movement and growth testify in different but equally fundamental ways to animation. As Aristotle lucidly and succinctly observed 2500 years ago: “Nature is a principle of motion and change.” He concluded, “We must therefore see that we understand what motion is; for if it were unknown, nature too would be unknown.”

We would do well to begin our investigations of animate life by acknowledging both the principle Aristotle recognized and the conclusion he drew, and in turn, acknowledge animation as our grounding concept. Animation engenders dynamics, the essence of life in all its vital contours and diverse forms; it encapsulates what is fundamental to life, the vibrant and spirited way each animate being comes into the world and makes sense of its particular Umwelt, and the vibrant and spirited way that is gone when it dies; it encompasses in an exacting linguistic sense the integral character of living beings and is thus properly descriptive of life itself.

Ezequiel specified three aims of this workshop: to present important questions re social cognition; to identify what a broadly construed enactive take on the social might allow us to do that would be hard or impossible to achieve from the standpoint of more traditional approaches (given the above observations, I would be inclined to say not what a “broadly construed” but what a “totally re-construed” enactive take might allow us to do); and to set forth what the agenda might be in terms of major research issues over the next five years. I hope to answer to this threefold charge under the aegis of animation; first, by identifying essential aspects of self-movement and raising questions as to why their direct bearing on social cognition is ignored; second, by showing how animation embraces the double aspect of sense-making common to animate forms of life; third, by putting the challenge of languaging experience on the agenda as a prime challenge to be acknowledged and confronted in depth.

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