Volume 18 · Number 3 · Pages 376–378
Is Sympoiesis Compatible with Phenomenology?

Carl B. Sachs

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Open peer commentary on the article “Beyond Individual-Centred 4E Cognition: Systems Biology and Sympoiesis” by Mads Julian Dengsø & Michael David Kirchhoff. Abstract: I concur with Dengsø and Kirchhoff that if we are to ground cognition more deeply in contemporary biology, we need to focus on the organism-environment relationship as the unit of biological explanation most relevant to cognitive science. This entails questioning the individualistic bias that has pervaded 4E cognitive science. However, can we overcome that bias while retaining a commitment to the importance of phenomenological descriptions for 4E cognitive science? Perhaps we can, but probably not if we continue to rely on classical Western phenomenology. Certain strands of Buddhist thought might be more compatible with sympoiesis.


Sachs C. B. (2023) Is sympoiesis compatible with phenomenology? Constructivist Foundations 18(3): 376–378. https://constructivist.info/18/3/376

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Carl B. Sachs is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Marymount University, USA. He is the author of Intentionality and the Myths of the Given (2015) and has published several articles and invited book chapters on Sellars C. I. Lewis, Carnap, Nietzsche, and Adorno. He is currently working on a book about how Sellars used ecological cybernetics and molar behaviorism to construct a conceptual framework for cognitive science. He is also a co-founder and current vice-president of the Wilfrid Sellars Society. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Marratto S. L. (2012) The intercorporeal self. SUNY Press, Albany NY. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Sepúlveda-Pedro M. (2023) Enactive cognition in place. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Thompson E. (2007) Mind in life. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. J. (1997) Patterns of Life: Intertwining identity and cognition. Brain Cognition 34(1): 72–87. https://cepa.info/2010

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