Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture

Investigating the Constitution of the Shared World

Edited by Christoph DurtThomas Fuchs, and Christian Tewes

See also at MIT Press printed or online. Or here on Amazon.


Recent accounts of cognition attempt to overcome the limitations of traditional cognitive science by reconceiving cognition as enactive and the cognizer as an embodied being who is embedded in biological, psychological, and cultural contexts. Cultural forms of sense-making constitute the shared world, which in turn is the origin and place of cognition. This volume is the first interdisciplinary collection on the cultural context of embodiment, offering perspectives that range from the neurophilosophical to the anthropological.

The book brings together new contributions by some of the most renowned scholars in the field and the latest results from up-and-coming researchers. The contributors explore conceptual foundations, drawing on work by Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre, and respond to recent critiques. They consider whether there is something in the self that precedes intersubjectivity and inquire into the relation between culture and consciousness, the nature of shared meaning and social understanding, the social dimension of shame, and the nature of joint affordances. They apply the notion of radical enactive cognition to evolutionary anthropology, and examine the concept of the body in relation to culture in light of studies in such fields as phenomenology, cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and psychopathology. Through such investigations, the book breaks ground for the study of the interplay of embodiment, enaction, and culture.


Mark Bickhard, Ingar Brinck, Anna Ciaunica, Hanne De Jaegher, Nicolas de Warren, Ezequiel Di Paolo, Christoph Durt, John Z. Elias, Joerg Fingerhut, Aikaterini Fotopoulou, Thomas Fuchs, Shaun Gallagher, Vittorio Gallese, Duilio Garofoli, Katrin Heimann, Peter Henningsen, Daniel D. Hutto, Laurence J. Kirmayer, Alba Montes Sánchez, Dermot Moran, Maxwell J. D. Ramstead, Matthew Ratcliffe, Vasudevi Reddy, Zuzanna Rucińska, Alessandro Salice, Glenda Satne, Heribert Sattel, Christian Tewes, Dan Zahavi

Contents of the Book

Introduction: The Interplay of Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture     1

Christian Tewes, Christoph Durt, and Thomas Fuchs

I     Phenomenological and Enactive Accounts of the Constitution of Culture     

1       Intercorporeality and Intersubjectivity: A Phenomenological Exploration of Embodiment      25

Dermot Moran

2       We Are, Therefore I Am—I Am, Therefore We Are: The Third in Sartre’s Social Ontology 47

Nicolas de Warren

3       Consciousness, Culture, and Significance               65

Christoph Durt

4       Neither Individualistic nor Interactionist   87

Ezequiel Di Paolo and Hanne De Jaegher

5       Continuity Skepticism in Doubt: A Radically Enactive Take    107

Daniel D. Hutto and Glenda Satne

II     Intersubjectivity, Selfhood, and Persons    129

6       The Primacy of the “We”?    131

Ingar Brinck, Vasudevi Reddy, and Dan Zahavi

7       Selfhood, Schizophrenia, and the Interpersonal Regulation of Experience     149

Matthew Ratcliffe

8       The Touched Self: Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives on Proximal Intersubjectivity and the Self    173

Anna Ciaunica and Aikaterini Fotopoulou

9       Thin, Thinner, Thinnest: Defining the Minimal Self    193

Dan Zahavi

10     The Emergence of Persons     201

Mark H. Bickhard

III    Cultural Affordances and Social Understanding     215

11     The Significance and Meaning of Others    217

Shaun Gallagher

12     Feeling Ashamed of Myself Because of You     229

Alba Montes Sánchez and Alessandro Salice

13     The Extent of Our Abilities: The Presence, Salience, and Sociality of Affordances   245

John Z. Elias

14     The Role of Affordances in Pretend Play     257

Zuzanna Rucińska

15     Ornamental Feathers without Mentalism: A Radical Enactive View on Neanderthal Body Adornment       279

Duilio Garofoli

IV     Embodiment and Its Cultural Significance    307 

16     Neoteny and Social Cognition: A Neuroscientific Perspective on Embodiment      309

Vittorio Gallese

17     Collective Body Memories    333

Thomas Fuchs

18     Movies and the Mind: On Our Filmic Body    353

Joerg Fingerhut and Katrin Heimann

19     Painful Bodies at Work: Stress and Culture?    379

Peter Henningsen and Heribert Sattel

20     Embodiment and Enactment in Cultural Psychiatry     397

Laurence J. Kirmayer and Maxwell J. D. Ramstead

Contributors    423

Index    425


This MIT Press volume edited by Durt et al. (2017) is concerned with investigating how people bring about a shared sociocultural world through participatory and broader collective sense-making processes, while at the same time highlighting how the participants in these social processes are themselves transformed by the world they help to bring forth. The key insight that runs through this interdisciplinary collection of 20 chapters is the irreducible nature of this interdependence between individual and collective processes: participation in, and hence the cultural reproduction of, patterned practices of the social world is only realizable via a thorough transformation of individual embodied minds.

Tom Froese in his review in frontiers in Psychology, published August 13, 2019 (https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01853).

[T]his volume presents a provocative array of empirically informed research in the philosophy of embodiment. The chapters vary in their degree of specificity, but all of them together make a compelling case for the critical role that the body plays in making sense of the interpersonal, social, and cultural worlds.

Tom Sparrow in his review in The Review of Metaphysics (paywall) 71 (2):379–382, published December, 2017.

[T]he chapters included in this volume present new insights, refinements of the debates and extremely valuable contributions to our understandings of the cultural dimensions of subjectivity and intersubjectivity both in anomalous experiential contexts and in the everyday context.

Anya Daly in her review in Phenomenological Reviews, published on December 14, 2017

[T]he book provides a clear account of what enactivism amounts to, what it takes for granted, and how far it can be pushed.

Bryce Huebner in his review in NDPR, published on August 9, 2017.

The book edited by Durt, Fuchs and Tewes is then recommended to anyone interested in the current discussions on intersubjectivity and we-intentionality, and in the challenge of uncovering new aspects in the paradigms of embodiment.

Maria Chiara Bruttomesso in her review in Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (paywall) 16 (5):993–998, published on June 21, 2017.