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Cluster 14 | E.R.S.T.U.

Enjeux et Représentations de la Science, de la Technologie et de leurs Usages.

Emergence des sciences cognitives

Séminaire d’épistémologie des sciences cognitives & CPER Représentationnalisme et Fondements des sciences cognitives

21 mai 2007 - 22 mai 2007
Salle F 106, ENS-LSH, 15 Parvis René Descartes Lyon, métro Debourg
contact : Jean-Michel Roy



·10.30 : Self-recognition and self-attribution : the role of bodily cues Marc Jeannerod Laboratoire sur le Langage, la Cognition et le Cerveau (L2C2), Institut des Sciences Cognitives, Lyon

·11.45 : Mind, World and the Second Person Juan Botero Philosophy Visiting Professor at ENS-LSH / Universidad Nacional de Colombia

One major achievement of the embodiment, situational, “enactive” approach to cognition consists in making available for us some strong conceptual tools to understand the phenomena of cognition and mind. I think the phenomenological lineage of much of these tools accounts for a significant part of their usefulness in the context of this approach. But what is really crucial in a phenomenological account of the emergence of consciousness (the meaning-bestowing process that distinguishes the minded from the not-minded) is the evidence that this very same phenomenon is simultaneously the co-emergence of a world. The basic phenomenological evidence is that consciousness and world are inseparable correlates in that unified phenomenon that we call human cognition. This evidence supports the distinction between the environment and the world of an organism, advanced by F. Varela. The environment is the surrounding reality of some entity (a third-person phenomenon), while the world is always someone’s world, i.e., a first-person world, or, in other words, the meaningful configuration which constitutes the medium of existence for that entity. Thus, (conscious) mind and world are necessary correlates. If we accept this phenomenological evidence, then we should understand that the structuring of the conscious mind is the structuring of the correlative world as well. The shaping of experience by pre-noetic operations is thus simultaneously the shaping of the experienced (spatial, temporal) world. Not surprisingly, this view is not likely to be taken very seriously within the scientific community of the study of consciousness because of the non realistic, internalist thesis that it seems committed to espouse. Therefore, advocating for this mind-world correlation to be taken seriously by the scientific community means at least two things : firstly, to place the understanding that is gained by the uncovering of the pre-noetic performances that structure consciousness within the theoretical framework of the mind-world correlation and to show how this move helps us to better understand the precise way by which the world-life, and therefore our world-experience, becomes configured and shaped by those pre-noetic performances ; and secondly, to show that despite this “subjective” structuring of the world of experience, cognition is always referred to an external, real world. In other words, it should be shown how the phenomenological inspiration leading, among other views, to the embodiment, situational approach to cognition is not necessarily committed to an anti (or non-) realist, idealistic stance concerning ontology and epistemology. In this talk I intend to partially set out some of the basis needed to bring support to this task. I will propose that a way to search deep insights into the highly puzzling relationship between the subjective, first-person nature of the experienced world and the objective, third-person perspective by which it is given to us through the natural sciences could take the form of a recovery of the missing person in this debate, namely the second person. I will try to sketch the view that the world as a correlate of consciousness is in fact neither a fully independent pre-configured world, nor a subjective, idealistic human creation, but actually a second-person constituted world, and that this is the only sense in which the concept of an “external reality” has an interesting and non-metaphysical role to play in the explanation of cognition.

SESSION 2 MAY 21 · 14.30 Multisensory Space & Action Alessandro Farne INSERM - Laboratoire Espace et action, Lyon

The notion of body schema has been proposed to include at least par of the extra-corporeal space. Neurophysiological and neuropsychological evidence converged in showing that the space immediately surrounding our body (i.e., the near peri-personal space, PPS) is represented through the integrated processing of multiple sensory inputs. Multisensory representations of the PPS have been proposed to deserve the function of A) localising stimuli approaching the subject’s body to automatically drive defensive movements, and B) embodying tools to purposefully acting on objects. After reviewing patients-based evidence providing indirect support to both kinds of functions, here we report new findings concerning the effects of voluntary action on the corporeal representation of our acting body. Two experiments on normal subjects will be presented providing direct evidence that 1) multisensory space coding of nearby objects changes when we grasp them, and 2) the kinematics of grasping an object with our hand is modified if we previously grasped the same object with a 40cm-long articulated grasping tool. We conclude that action affects multisensory perception in a way that is selective for the body-parts involved in action, and suggest that the body schema can dynamically vary to incorporate temporary corporeal changes induced by tool-use.

· 15.45 : Can the classical definition of ’hallucination’ withstand an embodied approach to cognition ? Juan C. González Philosophy, Visiting Professor at EHESS Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos Cuernavaca, MEXICO

In this talk I will endeavor to show that the classical definition of ’hallucination’ as a false perception or as a perception with no object is ill-conceived for a number of reasons and that, therefore, a better definition is wanting. And I will claim that an embodied approach to cognition is a suitable framework within which we can conceptually, phenomenologically and empirically investigate hallucinations, casting thereby a more useful and precise definition for the term.

· 17h15 : Heterotopagnosia, a specific disorder for pointing at another person’s body parts Laurent Cleret Neuropsychologie, Laboratoire deNeuropsychologie Interventionnelle, Faculté de Médecine de Paris 12

Several body-related disorders were described after focal brain lesions (body-specific language impairments, autotopagnosia, finger agnosia, asomatognosia...). They were often interpreted as troubles in body representation. However, a peculiar case must be heterotopagnosia, initially described as a deficit in the process of pointing itself, but not in body representation. Here, we provide new data from patients that support the view of a deficit in both pointing process and human body representation. We propose a theoretical model for pointing supported by experimental data in healthy individuals.


·10.30 : Bodily in the world Dorothée Legrand Philosophy, CNRS-CREA, Paris

Empirical and experiential investigations allow the distinction between observational and non-observational forms of subjective bodily experiences. From a first-person perspective, the biological body can be (1) an "opaque body" taken as an intentional object of observational consciousness, (2) a "performative body" pre-reflectively experienced as a subject/agent, (3) a "transparent body" pre-reflectively experienced as the bodily mode of givenness of objects in the external world, or (4) an "invisible body" absent from experience. To underline their core characteristics, I will present threefold variations of these different forms of bodily experiences, comparing expert, pathological and normal cases. I will then argue that a fine-grained description of these states of consciousness at the phenomenological level opens new ways to experiment on the self-consciousness without relying on subjective verbal reports about reflective states. I will review previous empirical results suggesting a role of sensori-motor integrative processes in anchoring pre-reflective bodily self-consciousness.

·11.45 : Conceptual remarks on proprioception and knowledge of one’s actions Jaime Ramos A. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Philosophie

The paper raises some conceptual issues about one’s awareness of his body and, in particular, about one’s bodily actions and limbs positions. It appears that the notion of “Proprioception” needs clarification. First, we have the idea of sub-personal proprioceptive systems that allegedly provide ‘information’ about one’s position, movement, limb position, etc. However, It is unclear for whom those ‘signals’ count as information. Additionally, we have the idea of “proprioceptive awareness”, which is supposed to be some form of conscious experience of the body (It was even suggested proprioception may count as the sixth sense). But again, it is unclear what sort of experience that could be. Wittgenstein persuasively suggested that our knowledge of the position and movement of our limbs is not derived from some sensation (so called kinesthetic sensations). One does not feel the position of one’s arm in the same sense of “feeling” as one feels pain. Wittgenstein suggests that the sentence “Raise your arm, and you will feel that you are raising your arm” is not an empirical proposition. In some sense, we know of our moving our arm ; but not, it seems, in the ordinary sense of ‘knowing’. Not, e.g., in the sense that I know that you just moved your arm. What does it mean to say that I have knowledge of my bodily actions ? Not that I am always (or even usually) consciously aware of them. Perhaps, it just means that I am not surprised by them. But what about cases such as the anarchic hand syndrome ? One may argue that in such cases the subject does not act, since she does not actually control her hand. Certainly, all these issues cannot be addressed by mere grammatical analysis, but some conceptual clarity will favor empirical research.


· 14.30 : The Peri-personal Space and the Psychotic Experience Jorge Davila Psychiatry, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá.

In some phenomenological conceptions about embodied experience (Varela and Depraz), it is emphasized that the kinesthetic patterns of the subject are always affectively tuned and that they deploy a peculiar peri-personal space which configures a milieu, an in-between, which “surrounds” him and configures his most basic navigational environment. So, one of the layers of the progressive embodiement of a child, and so will be for the adult, can be conceived as this constitutional “medium” across which he will experience the world. One important attribute of this dimension of the being is its “ontological transparency”, (part of what Merleau-Ponty would call the “Invisible”). A possible neural counterpart of this peri-personal space can be found among the varieties of functions which have been recently found in the parieto-frontal circuitry. Specially, the VIP-F4 circuit provides a suitable neural locus as far as it encodes space information in a multimodal way. The peri-personal space (at personal and sub-personal accounts) can be affectively permeated giving to objects, persons, atmospheres and horizons a defined emotional “palette” and establishing the where of the einfülhung. In the same way as a difference between körper and leib is settled, there will be also a difference between the space as a network of neat geometrical coordinates and the “lived” or “animate” space of human empathy. In this presentation, I will explore the possible relation between some features of the psychotic experience (i.e. schizophrenia) and disruptions or anomalies in the realm of this peri-personal space. I will comment similar accounts proposed by authors like Kimura Bin and Minkowski and in the light of this discussion I will criticize some ideas proposed by Louis Sass.

· 15h45 :

Representation in action Shaun Gallagher Philosophy, Visiting Professor at ENS-LSH / University of Central Florida

I review some recent definitions of representation in regard to motor control and action, especially the claim that pre-intentional acts (or "deeds") are representational (Rowlands 2006). Does this claim succeed in light of the analysis of representation and action provided by Berthoz and Petit (2006), or more anti-representational accounts ?