Volume 14 · Number 1 · Pages 1–8
Shaun Gallagher and the Sciences of the Mind: Recontextualizing “Decentered” Cognition

Nicolas Zaslawski & Mathieu Arminjon

Log in download the full text in PDF

> Citation > Similar > References > Add Comment


Context: Shaun Gallagher’s work is very influential in contemporary philosophy, especially when it comes to the mind, to philosophical issues raised by developmental psychology, and to intersubjectivity. Problem: Classical cognitivism” has been, and often still is dominating the sciences of the mind. The reasons for this dominance include being implementable on computers, being consistent with Darwinism, and being allegedly experimentally testable. However, this dominance could just as well be a historical phase as cognitivism is disconnected from biological, anthropological, and neuroscientific research. Method: We historically and epistemologically contextualize how Gallagher contributed to bringing the body and subjectivity back to the center of the sciences of the mind by focusing on two examples: theory of mind and evolutionary psychology. Results: Both contemporary epistemologists and Gallagher’s work indicate why classical cognitivism provides a flawed model of cognition, especially when it comes to its explanatory scope: embodiment, subjectivity, and intersubjectivity, among other things, are fundamentally mistreated by cognitivism. Implications: Gallagher helped to structure what Andler calls “heterodoxical” approaches to cognition by conceptualizing a unifying framework, the so-called “E-approaches.” This unification has the major implication of leading Gallagher to a model in which cognition is “decentered,” which helps tackle the philosophical issues one might encounter when narrowing down philosophy of cognition. Constructivist content: We apply E-approaches to the philosophy of cognition, psychology and social sciences.

Key words: Philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science, history of science, embodiment, E-approaches


Zaslawski N. & Arminjon M. (2018) Shaun Gallagher and the sciences of the mind: Recontextualizing “decentered” cognition. Constructivist Foundations 14(1): 1–8. http://constructivist.info/14/1/001

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)

Similar articles

Zaslawski N. (2018) Neurodialectics: A Proposal for Philosophy of Cognitive and Social Sciences
Müller K. H. (2010) The Radical Constructivist Movement and Its Network Formations
Bettoni M. C. (2011) Constructing a Beginning in 1985
Moser S. (2008) "Walking and Falling." Language as Media Embodiment
McGee K. (2006) Enactive Cognitive Science. Part 2: Methods, Insights, and Potential


Andler D. (2016) La silhouette de l’humain. Gallimard, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Arminjon M. (2018) Le tournant phénoménologique de la neuropsychanalyse: Éléments pour une histoire alternative du sujet cérébral. In Analysis, in press. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Arminjon M., Ansermet F. & Magistretti P. (2011) Emergence du moi cérébral de Theodor Meynert à Antonio Damasio. Psychiatrie, Sciences-humaines, Neurosciences (PSN) 9(3): 153–161. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bartholow R. (1874) Experiments on the functions of the human brain. British Medical Journal 1(700): 726. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Cosmides L. & Tooby J. (1992) Cognitive adaptations for social exchange. In: Barkow J., Cosmides L. & Tooby J. (eds.) The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. Oxford University Press, New York: 163–228. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Crisafi A. & Gallagher S. (2010) Hegel and the extended mind. Artificial Intelligence & Society 25(1): 123–129. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Damasio A. R. (1994) Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Fodor J. A. (1975) The language of thought. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Fodor J. A. (1983) The modularity of mind: An essay on faculty psychology. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Foerster O. (1936) The motor cortex in man in the light of Hughlings Jackson’s doctrines. Brain 59(2): 135–159. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Forest D. (2014) Neuroscepticisme. Ithaque, Montreuil-sous-Bois. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Freud S. (1961) The ego and the id. In: Strachey J. (ed.) Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. Hogarth Press, London: 12–59. German original published in 1923. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Frith C. D. (1992) The cognitive neuropsychology of schizophrenia. Psychology Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Fritsch G. & Hitzig E. (2009) Electric excitability of the cerebrum (Über die elektrische Erregbarkeit des Grosshirns) Epilepsy & Behavior 15(2): 123–130. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. & Crisafi A. (2009) Mental institutions. Topoi 28: 45–51. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. & Schmicking D. (eds.) (2010) Handbook of phenomenology and cognitive science. Springer, Berlin. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. & Zahavi D. (2012) The phenomenological mind. Routledge, London http://cepa.info/4356
Gallagher S. (1997) Mutual enlightenment: Recent phenomenology in cognitive science. Journal of Consciousness Studies 4(3): 195–214 http://cepa.info/2276
Gallagher S. (2005) How the body shapes the mind. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (2015) On the possibility of naturalizing phenomenology. In: Zahavi D. (ed.) The Oxford handbook of contemporary phenomenology. Oxford University Press, Oxford: 70–93 http://cepa.info/2279
Gallagher S. (2018) Decentering the brain: Embodied cognition and the critique of neurocentrism and narrow-minded philosophy of mind. Constructivist Foundations 14(1): 8–21 http://constructivist.info/14/1/008 (this issue).
Gopnik A. & Wellman H. M. (1994) The theory theory. In: Hirschfeld L. A. & Gelman S. A. (eds.) Mapping the mind: Domain specificity in cognition and culture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 257–293. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gross C. G. (2007) The discovery of motor cortex and its background. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 16(3): 320–331. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Henderson D. K. (1995) Simulation theory versus theory theory: A difference without a difference in explanations. The Southern Journal of Philosophy 34 (Supplement): 65–93. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Jackson H. (1884) The Croonian lectures on evolution and dissolution of the nervous system. British Medical Journal 1(1215): 703–707. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Johnson-Laird P. (1988) The computer and the mind. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Locke J. (1825) An essay concerning human understanding. 25th edition. Thomas Tegg, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
McCulloch W. S. & Pitts W. (1943) A logical calculus of the ideas immanent in nervous activity. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics 5: 115–133. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Meynert T. (1885) Psychiatry: A clinical treatise on diseases of the forebrain. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Putnam H. (1975) Mind, language and reality: Philosophical papers. Cambridge University Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Pylyshyn Z. (1984) Computation and cognition: Toward a foundation for cognitive science. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Ravenscroft I. (2016) Folk psychology as a theory. In: Zalta E. N. (ed.) The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2016/entries/folkpsych-theory/
Riegler A. (2005) Editorial: The constructivist challenge. Constructivist Foundations 1(1): 1–8 http://constructivist.info/1/1/001
Trivers R. L. (1971) The evolution of reciprocal altruism. The Quarterly Review of Biology 46(1): 35–57. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Vidal F. (2009) Brainhood, anthropological figure of modernity. History of the Human Sciences 22(1): 5–36. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Zaslawski N. (2018) Les paradis naturalistes: À propos du livre La silhouette de l’humain de Daniel Andler. In Analysis 2(2): 181–189. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar

Comments: 0

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.