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

Camila Valenzuela-Moguillansky, Ema Demšar & Alexander Riegler

Log in download the full text in PDF

> Citation > Similar > References > 1 Comment

Abstract

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

Citation

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

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

Similar articles

Vörös S. & Riegler A. (2017) A Plea for not Watering Down the Unseemly: Reconsidering Francisco Varela’s Contribution to Science
Vörös S., Froese T. & Riegler A. (2016) Epistemological Odyssey: Introduction to Special Issue on the Diversity of Enactivism and Neurophenomenology
Vörös S. & Bitbol M. (2017) Enacting Enaction: A Dialectic Between Knowing and Being
Müller K. H. & Riegler A. (2014) A New Course of Action
Kordeš U. & Demšar E. (2018) Excavating Belief About Past Experience: Experiential Dynamics of the Reflective Act

References

Berkovich-Ohana A., Dor-Ziderman Y., Trautwein F.-M., Schweitzer Y., Nave O., Fulder S. & Ataria Y. (2020) The hitchhiker’s guide to neurophenomenology: The case of studying self boundaries with meditators. Frontiers in Psychology 11: 1680. https://cepa.info/6666
Bitbol M. & Antonova E. (2016) On the too often overlooked radicality of phenomenology. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 354–356. https://constructivist.info/11/2/354
Bitbol M. & Petitmengin C. (2013) A defense of introspection from within. Constructivist Foundations 8(3): 269–279. https://constructivist.info/8/3/269
Bitbol M. & Petitmengin C. (2017) Neurophenomenology and the micro-phenomenological interview. In: Schneider S. & Velmans M. (eds.) The Blackwell companion to consciousness. Second edition. Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ: 726–739. https://cepa.info/4120
Christoff K., Gordon A. M., Smallwood J., Smith R. & Schooler J. W. (2009) Experience sampling during fMRI reveals default network and executive system contributions to mind wandering. PNAs 106(21): 8719–8724. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Colombetti G. (2014) The feeling body: Affective science meets the enactive mind. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Depraz N., Varela F. J. & Vermersch P. (2003) On becoming aware. John Benjamins, Amsterdam. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dor-Ziderman Y., Berkovich-Ohana A., Glicksohn J. & Goldstein A. (2013) Mindfulness-induced selflessness: A MEG neurophenomenological study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7: 582. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00582
Foerster H. von (2003) Ethics and second-order cybernetics. In: Understanding understanding. Springer, New York: 287–304. https://cepa.info/1742 French original published in 1991. https://cepa.info/1733
Froese T., Gould C. & Barrett A. (2011) Re-viewing from within: A commentary on first- and second-person methods in the science of consciousness. Constructivist Foundations 6(2): 254–269. https://constructivist.info/6/2/254
Gallagher S. & Sørensen J. B. (2006) Experimenting with phenomenology. Consciousness and Cognition 15(1): 119–134. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. & Zahavi D. (2012) The phenomenological mind. Routledge, London. https://cepa.info/4356
Gallagher S. (2003) Phenomenology and experimental design: Toward a phenomenologically enlightened experimental science. Journal of Consciousness studies 10(9–10): 85–99. https://cepa.info/2277
Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Falmer Press, London. https://cepa.info/1462
Hurlburt R. T. & Akhter S. A. (2006) The Descriptive Experience Sampling method. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5(3–4): 271–301. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Hurlburt R. T. (1990) Sampling normal and schizophrenic inner experience. Plenum Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Hurlburt R. T. (2011) Investigating pristine inner experience: Moments of truth. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Jo H. G., Wittmann M., Borghardt T. L., Hinterberger T. & Schmidt S. (2014) First-person approaches in neuroscience of consciousness: Brain dynamics correlate with the intention to act. Consciousness and Cognition 26: 105–116. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kordeš U. & Demšar E. (2018) Excavating belief about past experience: Experiential dynamics of the reflective act. Constructivist Foundations 13(2): 219–229. https://constructivist.info/13/2/219
Kordeš U. (2016) Going beyond theory: Constructivism and empirical phenomenology. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 375–385. https://constructivist.info/11/2/375
Lutz A., Lachaux J.-P., Martinerie J. & Varela F. J. (2002) Guiding the study of brain dynamics by using first-person data: Synchrony patterns correlate with ongoing conscious states during a simple visual task. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99(3): 1586–1591. https://cepa.info/2092
Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (1980) Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Kluwer, Dordrecht. https://cepa.info/556
Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (1987) The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding. Shambhala, Boston. https://cepa.info/591
Maturana H. R. (1970) Biology of cognition. Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) Research Report BCL 9.0. University of Illinois, Urbana. Reprinted in: Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (1980) Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 5–58. https://cepa.info/535
Monson C. K. & Hurlburt R. T. (1993) A comment to suspend the introspection controversy: Introspecting subjects did agree about “imageless thought.” In: Hurlburt R. T. (ed.) Sampling inner experience in disturbed affect. Plenum, New York: 15–26. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Newen A., de Bruin L. & Gallagher S. (eds.) (2018) The Oxford handbook of 4E cognition. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
2015) Neurophenomenology revisited: Second-person methods for the study of human consciousness. Frontiers in Psychology 6: 673. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00673
Petitmengin C. & Bitbol M. (2009) The validity of first-person descriptions as authenticity and coherence. Journal of Consciousness Studies 16: 363–340. https://cepa.info/2377
Petitmengin C. (1999) The intuitive experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6(2–3): 43–47. https://cepa.info/2411
Petitmengin C. (2006) Describing one’s subjective experience in the second person: An interview method for a science of consciousness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5(3–4): 229–269. https://cepa.info/2376
Petitmengin C. (2017) Enaction as a lived experience: Towards a radical neurophenomenology. Constructivist Foundations 12(2): 139–147. https://constructivist.info/12/2/139
Petitmengin C., Remillieux A. & Valenzuela-Moguillansky C. (2019) Discovering the structures of lived experience: Towards a micro-phenomenological analysis method. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18(4): 691–730. https://cepa.info/6664
Thompson E. (2007) Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. Reviewed in https://constructivist.info/3/2/117
Thompson E. (2016) Introduction to the revised edition. In: Varela F. J., Thompson E. & Rosch E., The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. Revised edition. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: xvii–xxxiii. https://cepa.info/4379
Varela F. J. & Shear J. (1999) First-person methodologies: What, why, how? Journal of Consciousness Studies 6: 1–14. https://cepa.info/2080
Varela F. J. & Shear J. (eds.) (1999) The view from within: First-person approaches to the study of consciousness. Imprint Academic, Thorverton UK. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. J. (1996) Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy to the hard problem. Journal of Consciousness Studies 3(4): 330–349. https://cepa.info/1893
Varela F. J., Thompson E. & Rosch E. (1991) The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Vermersch P. (1994) L’entretien d’explicitation [The explicitation interview]. ESF, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Vörös S. (2014) The uroboros of consciousness: Between the naturalisation of phenomenology and the phenomenologisation of nature. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 96–104. https://constructivist.info/10/1/096
Vörös S. (2017) Enacting enaction: Conceptual nest or existential mutation? Constructivist Foundations 12(2): 148–150. https://constructivist.info/12/2/148
Vörös S., Froese T. & Riegler A. (2016) Epistemological odyssey: Introduction to special issue on the diversity of enactivism and neurophenomenology. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 189–204. https://constructivist.info/11/2/189
Zaslawski N. & Arminjon M. (eds.) (2018) Special Issue “E-approaching Cognition with Shaun Gallagher. “Constructivist Foundations 14(1) https://constructivist.info/14/1

Comments: 1

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

Comment by Mark Hershkovitz · 30 Mar 2021
… “Science is the collective endeavor of cognitive beings, engaged in cognizing about the phenomena populating their experiential reality, producing explanations and descriptions of these phenomena”… I am somewhat dyslectic, my screen is dim, my vision is poor, my glasses are old and badly scratched and happen to be very dirty… So when I skimmed this, I read it as:… “Science is the collective endeavor of cognitive beings, engaged in cognizing about the phenomena COPULATING their experiential reality, producing explanations and descriptions of these phenomena”… Perhaps because the word “populating” was preceded immediately by THREE words beginning with “co-"… But it occurred to me… same difference.