Research Topic

Situated Cognition and Its Critics: Recent Developments

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The existing work on situated cognition still leaves us without an adequate account of each of the central dimensions of situatedness and a theoretical account of how they are related to each other. While Gallagher offers enlightening case studies of embodiment, we are lacking a general theory of embodiment ...

The existing work on situated cognition still leaves us without an adequate account of each of the central dimensions of situatedness and a theoretical account of how they are related to each other. While Gallagher offers enlightening case studies of embodiment, we are lacking a general theory of embodiment and its limits. Conversely, in the case of Thompson’s account of enacted cognition, we have a very general perspective but face the challenge of evaluating the fruitfulness of the enacted approach for specific mental phenomena. The extendedness debate ran into a dead end, leaving us with the so-called coupling-constitution fallacy which demands also that we should systematically explore the value of the notion of extended cognition in detailed case studies. Furthermore, from a bird’s eye view, the concepts employed by situated approaches (e.g., action-oriented representations, sensory-motor contingencies, affordances, attractors in phase spaces, shared neural circuits, sense-making, etc.) and the methods used (e.g., dynamical modeling, computational modeling, evolutionary computation, organic computing, etc.) are as diverse as the phenomena they study. Moreover, they are far less developed and elaborated than traditional concepts and methods they are claimed to replace or at least crucially supplement. Thus, the new development in cognitive science should aim for an improved explication of the relevant concepts and an adequate theoretical understanding of all dimensions of situatedness.

To tackle these problems we suggest the Research Topic in which we encourage article submissions concerning the following four complexes of conceptual and methodological questions:
(1) [Ontology of cognition] Are cognitive processes only a matter of the brain or do they involve bodily and worldly processes as well? And if so, what exactly is the relationship between cognitive processes on the one hand and their neuronal, bodily, and worldly basis on the other?
(2) [Explanation of cognition] In order to understand cognition in humans and other animals, do we need to include bodily, environmental, and social factors as well? And if so, what do such epistemological considerations tell us with regard to the ontological issues raised in (1)?

This leads us to investigate the scope of the models of cognition:
(3) [Scope of the classical sandwich model] Is the separation into perception, cognition, and action an adequate description of cognitive phenomena in general? If not, is it viable only in some cases (and in which ones) or is it not tenable at all?
(4) [Scope of the traditional account of the computational mind] Are internal mental representations and computational processes indispensable for all cognitive phenomena? If so, what kinds of representations are relevant? If not, how much can anti-representational accounts of cognition accomplish and when and why do they fail?

The aim of this Research Topic is to further our knowledge on these four foundational questions, thus enabling substantial progress towards a unified theory of situated cognition by improving our conceptual and methodological perspectives.

The goal of this Research Topic is to provide an interdisciplinary perspective combing philosophy, psychology, and neurosciences. Thus, these central questions are expected to be discussed based on concrete phenomena: we welcome the discussion of four areas of mental phenomena, including:
(1) perception and agency
(2) emotion
(3) social understanding
(4) linguistic understanding

We also welcome original empirical studies that clearly contribute to one of the theoretical questions. We furthermore welcome reviews of relevant empirical studies if those are intensely embedded into the context of theoretical analysis. Finally, we are open to article submissions by defenders and opponents of the framework of situated cognition since we aim to disclose the advantages and limits of this framework.


Keywords: Situated Cognition, 4E Cognition, Perception-Action-Coupling, Mark of the Mental, Cognition and Action


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

27 February 2020 Manuscript

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Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

27 February 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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