Skip navigation
Hardcover | $45.00 X | £37.95 | 488 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 31 b&w illus. | November 2010 | ISBN: 9780262014601
Paperback | $30.00 Short | £24.95 | 488 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 31 b&w illus. | January 2014 | ISBN: 9780262526012
eBook | $21.00 Short | November 2010 | ISBN: 9780262290357
Mouseover for Online Attention Data


Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science


This book presents the framework for a new, comprehensive approach to cognitive science. The proposed paradigm, enaction, offers an alternative to cognitive science's classical, first-generation Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). Enaction, first articulated by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch in The Embodied Mind (MIT Press, 1991), breaks from CTM’s formalisms of information processing and symbolic representations to view cognition as grounded in the sensorimotor dynamics of the interactions between a living organism and its environment. A living organism enacts the world it lives in; its embodied action in the world constitutes its perception and thereby grounds its cognition. Enaction offers a range of perspectives on this exciting new approach to embodied cognitive science.

Some chapters offer manifestos for the enaction paradigm; others address specific areas of research, including artificial intelligence, developmental psychology, neuroscience, language, phenomenology, and culture and cognition. Three themes emerge as testimony to the originality and specificity of enaction as a paradigm: the relation between first-person lived experience and third-person natural science; the ambition to provide an encompassing framework applicable at levels from the cell to society; and the difficulties of reflexivity. Taken together, the chapters offer nothing less than the framework for a far-reaching renewal of cognitive science.

Renaud Barbaras, Didier Bottineau, Giovanna Colombetti, Diego Cosmelli, Hanne De Jaegher, Ezequiel A. Di Paolo. Andreas K. Engel, Olivier Gapenne, Véronique Havelange, Edwin Hutchins, Michel Le Van Quyen, Rafael E. Núñez, Marieke Rohde, Benny Shanon, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Adam Sheya, Linda B. Smith, John Stewart, Evan Thompson.

About the Editors

John Stewart is a Scientific Consultant at the University of Technology of Compiègne, France.

Olivier Gapenne is Assistant Professor at the University of Technology of Compiègne, France.

Ezequiel A. Di Paolo is Research Professor at the University of the Basque Country.

Table of Contents

  • Enaction
  • Enaction
  • Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science
  • Edited by John Stewart, Olivier Gapenne, and Ezequiel A. Di Paolo
  • A Bradford Book
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • For information about special quantity discounts, please email special_sales@
  • This book was set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Enaction : toward a new paradigm for cognitive science / edited by John Stewart, Olivier Gapenne, and Ezequiel A. Di Paolo.
  •  p. cm.
  • “A Bradford book.”
  • “Based on an International CNRS Summer School organized by the Association pour la Recherche Cognitive (ARC), held from 29 May to 03 June 2006, Ile d’Oléron, France”—Text.
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01460-1 (alk. paper) 1. Cognition—Philosophy. 2. Philosophy and cognitive science. 3. Cognitive science. I. Stewart, John Robert, 1941– II. Gapenne, Olivier. III. Di Paolo, Ezequiel A. IV. Association pour la recherche cognitive (France) V. Ecole d’été du CNRS sur les sciences cognitives (2006 : Ile d’Oléron, France)
  • BF311E495 2011
  • 153—dc22
  • 2010006930
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • vii
  • John Stewart, Olivier Gapenne, and Ezequiel A. Di Paolo
  • 1 Foundational Issues in Enaction as a Paradigm for Cognitive Science
  • :
  • From the Origin of Life to Consciousness and Writing
  • 1
  • John Stewart
  • 2 Horizons for the Enactive Mind:
  • Values, Social Interaction, and Play
  • 33
  • Ezequiel A. Di Paolo, Marieke Rohde, and Hanne De Jaegher
  • 3 Life and Exteriority
  • :
  • The Problem of Metabolism
  • 89
  • Renaud Barbaras
  • 4 Development through Sensorimotor Coordination
  • 123
  • Adam Sheya and Linda B. Smith
  • 5 Enaction, Sense-Making, and Emotion
  • 145
  • Giovanna Colombetti
  • 6 Thinking in Movement:
  • Further Analyses and Validations
  • 165
  • Maxine Sheets-Johnstone
  • 7 Kinesthesia and the Construction of Perceptual Objects
  • 183
  • Olivier Gapenne
  • 8 Directive Minds: How Dynamics Shapes Cognition
  • 219
  • Andreas K. Engel
  • 9 Neurodynamics and Phenomenology in Mutual Enlightenment:
  • The Example of the Epileptic Aura
  • 245
  • Michel Le Van Quyen
  • 10 Language and Enaction
  • 267
  • Didier Bottineau
  • 11 Enacting Infinity:
  • Bringing Transfinite Cardinals into Being
  • 307
  • Rafael E. Núñez
  • 12 The Ontological Constitution of Cognition and the Epistemological Constitution of Cognitive Science:
  • Phenomenology, Enaction, and Technology
  • 335
  • Véronique Havelange
  • 13 Embodiment or Envatment?:
  • Reflections on the Bodily Basis of Consciousness
  • 361
  • Diego Cosmelli and Evan Thompson
  • 14 Toward a Phenomenological Psychology of the Conscious
  • 387
  • Benny Shanon
  • 15 Enaction, Imagination, and Insight
  • 425
  • Edwin Hutchins
  • List of Contributors
  • 451
  • Index
  • 453


“This is an ambitious project…a remarkably well-written and argued collection on enactivism. Just as The Embodied Mind (Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1991) has served as a constant point of reference for researchers interested in enactive ideas, I suspect that this collection will do so for future generations.”—Philosophical Psychology
“There are very good chapters that introduce key ideas of enactivism and others that offer convincing applications of these ideas to specific areas of importance to cognitive science...Taken individually, these chapters are very interesting reading.”—Constructivist Foundations