Bálint Őry PhD Student, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Forms of reflexivity in cognitive science. How does phenomenology affect the way enactivism reflects on itself?

Cognitive science has always found itself in an epistemic circularity: a cognitive apparatus is studying its own cognition. Unlike classical empirical scientific disciplines such as physics or biology, in the case of cognitive science the subject of study overlaps precisely with the epistemic process itself that the given field carries out in studying its subject. Such a circularity requires a form of self-reflexivity from the given discipline. This talk seeks to give an overview as to how this self-reflexivity has evolved in cognitive science. We ask whether there is an increasing inherent importance of such a reflexivity over the development of cognitive science and look at what exact shape and form reflexivity has taken in the various approaches – with a special focus on enactivism. With the import of phenomenology into cognitive science, enactivism has put self-reflexivity on centre stage and has raised reflexivity on an ontologically different level by introducing the phenomenological understanding of the body in its double sense: as Körper and as Leib. As much as this initial import of phenomenology at the birth of enactivism was mostly inspired by Husserlian transcendental phenomenology, where questions regarding the phenomenological reduction dominated the discussions. This time however, I propose to look at existential rather than transcendental phenomenological accounts mostly from the second generation French authors such as Merleau-Ponty and Sartre to examine how phenomenology reflects on its own enquiry in their works and how it can influence that in the enactive approach. This move could provide a new step in how the enactive framework could carry out its own self-reflective circles with an “existential turn” that could potentially lead to a new kind of epistemology in enactive cognitive science.