Bee-ing In the World: Phenomenology, Cognitive Science, and Interactivity in a Novel Insect-Tracking Task

AbstractDotov, Nie and Chemero (2010) conducted a set of experiments to demonstrate how phenomenology, particularly the work of Martin Heidegger, interfaces with experimental research in embodied cognitive science. Specifically, they drew a parallel between Heidegger's notion of readiness-to-hand and the concept of an extended cognitive system (Clark 2008) by looking for the presence or absence of interaction-dominant dynamics (Holden, van Orden, and Turvey 2009; Ihlen and Vereijken 2010) in a hand/mouse system. We share Dotov, Nie and Chemero's optimism about the potential for cross-pollination between phenomenology and cognitive science, but we think that it can be better advanced through a shift in focus. First, we argue in favor of using Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological theory as the philosophical foundation for experimental research in embodied cognitive science. Second, we describe an audio-visual tracking task in virtual reality that we designed and used to empirically investigate human-environment coupling and interactivity. In addition to providing further support for phenomenologically-inspired empirical cognitive science, our research also offers a more generalizable scientific treatment of the interaction between humans and their environments.

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