Volume 16 · Number 2 · Pages 133–140
An Introduction to the Enactive Scientific Study of Experience

Camila Valenzuela-Moguillansky, Ema Demšar & Alexander Riegler

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Context: The enactive approach to cognition affirms the relevance of the study of lived experience within cognitive science. Problem: Taking experience as the phenomenon of investigation, while at the same time recognizing it as a necessary medium of any scientific activity implies theoretical, epistemological, and methodological challenges that have to be addressed in order to undertake the scientific study of experience. At the same time, it calls for a development of an alternative, non-objectivist and non-representationalist framework for and by addressing those challenges. Method: After presenting the development of the idea of cognition as enaction and pointing to its consequences for the understanding of science, we situate the study of experience within the enactive approach, presenting neurophenomenology as the methodological implementation of the enactive framework that motivated the development of first-person methods. We distinguish the micro-phenomenological interview and descriptive experience sampling as examples of such methods, reviewing their distinctive features. Results: Understanding first-person research against the background of the enactive approach is shown to be crucial for bringing about the radical epistemological shift that an enactive position entails. Implications: The examination of the relationship between first-person research and enaction makes it possible to clarify the ground from which to address the specific challenges that arise in studying lived experience. Investigating these challenges is necessary for developing a coherent research program for the enactive scientific study of experience.

Key words: Consciousness studies, descriptive experience sampling, enaction, first-person methods, lived experience, micro-phenomenological interview, radical neurophenomenology, reflexivity


Valenzuela-Moguillansky C., Demšar E. & Riegler A. (2021) An introduction to the enactive scientific study of experience. Constructivist Foundations 16(2): 133–140. https://constructivist.info/16/2/133

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