Evening Plenary Session

Keynote Speaker: Erik Myin, Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp.

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.