Balázs Kékesi Assistant professor, Dharma Gate Buddhist College, Budapest

Gains and inefficacy in enactivism

In my presentation, I will argue that the enactivist approach is one of the most foreshadowing progresses in cognitive science and philosophy of mind, if one could set aside or bracket the metaphysical explanatory burdens, which are closely tied to the term: embodied mind. In other words, if one not consider above all, that the embodied approach is the final strike on Cartesian dualism (Damasio 1996) as a solution of the mind-body problem, or it is the end of the seeking ways of Western thought (Lakoff-Johnson 1999), then the philosophical suspicion towards the embodied mind paradigm decreases, and the progressive aspect of embodied approach will be apparent.
First of all, I will make a careful conceptual distinction among cognition (the capacity to learn and know something about the world), mind (a set of higher-order mental faculties, and functions) and consciousness (intentionality and phenomenal character). I will argue, that the famous slogan in the embodied approach, that cognition is for action and the theory that perception and bodily action are literally cognitive (Cain 2016), almost completely changes the view of what mind for, and how it functions (but cannot properly explain, what mind is). For example, emphasizing the imaginative nature of cognition in embodied cognitive science give a new light on how mind faculties, like representing, remembering, planning, deliberating, deciding work. In enactivism, this idea – among others – have found shape in the theory of re-enact epistemic situations during linguistic activity (Barsalou 2008) or re-living the phenomenal (‘what was it like”) character of former experiences during the representational processes of working memory (Thompson 2007). Recent developments in cognitive science, particularly the idea of brain simulation (Damasio 2011) and the theory of predictive mind (Friston 2007, Metzinger-Wiese 2017) support the idea of the inherently imaginative nature of mentality, including mind and cognition. But I will argue that despite of the fruitful new way of understanding mentality in enactivism, consciousness still remains a mystery. One of the possible explanations for that: enactivism is opposed to the classical cognitive science, but it is still a cognitive science, and it bears the impediments of understanding consciousness as such a science (Chalmers 1996).