Afternoon Plenary Session

Keynote Speaker: Giovanna Colombetti, Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Exeter.

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’.