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An extended argument that cognitive phenomena – perceiving, imagining, remembering – can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition.
Evolving Enactivism argues that cognitive phenomena – perceiving, imagining, remembering – can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. Building on their earlier book Radicalizing Enactivism, which proposes that there can be forms of cognition without content, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin demonstrate the unique explanatory advantages of recognizing that only some forms of cognition have content while others – the most elementary ones – do not. They offer an account of the mind in duplex terms, proposing a complex vision of mentality in which these basic contentless forms of cognition interact with content-involving ones.
Hutto and Myin argue that the most basic forms of cognition do not, contrary to a currently popular account of cognition, involve picking up and processing information that is then used, reused, stored, and represented in the brain. Rather, basic cognition is contentless – fundamentally interactive, dynamic, and relational. In advancing the case for a radically enactive account of cognition, Hutto and Myin propose crucial adjustments to our concept of cognition and offer theoretical support for their revolutionary rethinking, emphasizing its capacity to explain basic minds in naturalistic terms. They demonstrate the explanatory power of the duplex vision of cognition, showing how it offers powerful means for understanding quintessential cognitive phenomena without introducing scientifically intractable mysteries into the mix.
Daniel D. Hutto is Professor of Philosophical Psychology at the University of Wollongong and the author of Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis for Understanding Reasons (MIT Press) and coauthor of Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content (MIT Press).
Erik Myin is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Antwerp and coauthor of Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content (MIT Press).
"A crucial book that promises to leave a mark on future cognitive science [...] a seminal work."
– New Ideas in Psychology
"Important [...] for all philosophers of cognitive science [...] thought provoking, even for the non-radicals among us."
– Australasian Journal of Philosophy
"Raises important new (and unanswered) questions about the ontology of minds [...] highly interesting, fruitful, and helpful."
– Philosophical Psychology
"Powerful answer to the sorts of explanatory stalemates and difficulties that cognitive science has struggled but so far failed to solve."
"A secure path for satisfactorily naturalizing every human cognitive capacity, leaving nothing to metaphysical mystery or scientific inscrutability."
"This exciting book, like its predecessor, Radicalizing Enactivism, offers an empirically informed and admirably clear explication of Hutto and Myin's distinctive position on the question of how truly representational cognition might emerge out of simpler, contentless varieties. Theirs is a compelling vision of psychological evolution, with which anyone thinking about the emergence of the different varieties of mentality must reckon."
– Helen Steward, Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Action, University of Leeds; author of A Metaphysics for Freedom
"The Radical Enactivist challenge is not going away any time soon. The next phase of this debate in the philosophy and sciences of cognition will be based on the substantial development of the view embodied in this book."
– Paul E. Griffiths, Professor of Philosophy, University of Sydney