Keynote speakers include:
Antonio Damasio is University Professor, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Psychology, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California; he is also an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. Damasio has made seminal contributions to the understanding of brain processes underlying, emotions, feelings, decision-making and consciousness. He is the author of numerous scientific articles (his Google scholar H Index is 144; over 129,000 citations) and his research has received continuous Federal funding for 30 years. He is the recipient of many awards (including the Grawemeyer Award, 2014; the Honda Prize, 2010; the Asturias Prize in Science and Technology, 2005; and the Signoret Prize, 2004, which he shared with his wife Hanna Damasio). Damasio is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He has been named “Highly Cited Researcher” by the Institute for Scientific Information, and also holds Honorary Doctorates from several Universities.
In her first life, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone was a dancer/choreographer, professor of dance/dance scholar. In her second and ongoing life, she is a philosopher whose research and writing remain grounded in the tactile-kinesthetic body. She is an independent, highly interdisciplinary scholar affiliated with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon where she taught periodically in the 1990s and where she now holds an ongoing Courtesy Professor appointment. Her book publications include The Phenomenology of Dance; Illuminating Dance: Philosophical Explorations; the “roots” trilogy–The Roots of Thinking, The Roots of Power: Animate Form and Gendered Bodies, and The Roots of Morality; Giving the Body Its Due; The Primacy of Movement; and The Corporeal Turn: An Interdisciplinary Reader. She was awarded a Distinguished Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University in the UK in the Spring of 2007 for her research on xenophobia. (Biography text from http://somaticperspectives.com/2010/05/sheets-johnstone/)
I am a philosopher who works in the fields of cognitive science, philosophy of mind, Phenomenology, and cross-cultural philosophy, especially Asian philosophy and contemporary Buddhist philosophy in dialogue with Western philosophy and science. In July 2013 I moved from the University of Toronto to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where I am Professor of Philosophy. In 2013 I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. I am the author of Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 2015), Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind (Harvard University Press, 2007), Colour Vision: A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception (Routledge Press, 1995), and the co-author of The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (MIT Press, 1991; new expanded edition, 2015).
In my work I have emphasized that, if we think of cognition as embodied and more specifically ‘enacted’ by living organisms, then we need to acknowledge that cognition is also inherently affective, in the broad sense of motivated and non-indifferent. This point, I believe, is highly relevant for understanding our engagements with the material world, including those occurring in artistic practices. In my talk I will emphasize that we often manipulate the material world to modulate our affective states—either to maintain our current condition, or to achieve specific experiences. To use an increasingly popular term, we manipulate the material world to scaffold our affective life. Supporters of the idea that cognition is situated tend to overlook the motivational and affective value of our material engagements, emphasizing instead that we rely on the environment to aid our memory, orientation skills, or decision-making processes. This is certainly an important and intriguing phenomenon, but it is not the whole story about our relation to the material world. If we think of cognition as inherently affective, then we also need to emphasize that interacting and structuring the material world also profoundly shape our drives, moods, emotions, and more. In my talk I will thus provide a variety of examples of how affectivity is ‘materially scaffolded’.
The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2014.
INTELLIGENCE IS SOMETHING WE DO
There are different ways in which theorists have promoted the idea that cognition is embodied. Many of these still agree with core tenets of the so-called cognitive revolution. They still adhere to the assumption that there exists a natural phenomenon properly called cognition, to be explained by “cognitive processes”, which in principle can be distinct from what organisms do in their environments and involve some kind of descriptive abstraction from the particular worldly offerings interacted with—even if action-oriented rather than mirroring the world. Radical embodied approaches, on the other hand, focus on action of organisms in environments as their subject matter. These actions are to be explained not by behind-the-scenes “cognitive” processes, but by providing a natural history of how they gradually emerged out of a history of organism-environment interactions. Intelligence is flexible, adaptive embodied action, even when it does not, or hardly, involve overt movement, as in visual imagery or mental arithmetic. Organisms change the ways they interact with their environments, but not by acquiring abstracting descriptions of it, or by forming rules which steer their behaviors. Once action and its historically driven dynamics are seen as the core of intelligence, or what has been termed “cognition”, distinctions between so called “intellectual” and “artistic” activities can be seen as artificial products of the age-old disembodied traditions of thinking about thinking.
Anthony Chemero is Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. His research is both philosophical and empirical; typically, it tries to be both at the same time. His research is focused on questions related to nonlinear dynamical modeling, ecological psychology, complex systems, phenomenology, and artificial life. He is the author of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science (2009, MIT Press) and, with Stephan Käufer, Phenomenology (2015, Polity Press). He is currently editing the second edition of The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences.
David Kirsh is professor and past chair of the Cognitive Science dept at UCSD where he runs the Interactive Cognition Lab. He has written extensively on situated cognition and especially on how the environment can be shaped to simplify and extend cognition, including how we intelligently use space, and how we use external representations and physical objects as interactive tools for thought.