Cognition depends on the kind of experience that come from having a body with various sensorimotor capacities  



Body-painting artists
Clélia Marsadié and Faceination Team

Photo: Joel Muzard




"Rationalistic, Cartesian, or objectivist: These are some terms used to characterize te dominant traditions within which we grown in recent times. yet when it comes to a re-understanding of knowledge and cognition I find that the best expression to use for our tradition is abstract: Nothing characterizes better the units of knowledge that are deemed most natural. It is this tendency to find our way toward the rarefied atmosphere of the general and the formal, the logical and the well defined, te represented and the planned-ahead, that makes our Western world so distinctly familiar.

The main thesis I pursue here is that there are strong indications that the loose federations of sciences dealing with knowledge and cognition -the cognitive sciences- are slowly growing in the conviction that this picture is upside down and that a radical paradigmatic or epistemic shift is rapidly developing. At the very center of this emerging view is that the proper units of knowledge are primary concrete, embodied, lived. This uniqueness of knowledge, its historicity and context, is not a noise that occludes the brighter pattern to be captured in its true essence, an abstraction.. The concrete is not a step toward anything. It is how we arrive and where we stay.

Let me unfold this emerging view, which revitalizes the role of the concrete by focusing on its proper scale: the cognitive activity as it happens in a very special space that we may call the hinges of the immediate present, for it is in the immediate present that the concrete actually lives."

"Cognition depends on the kind of experience that come from having a body with various sensorimotor capacities" (page 17)

Francisco Varela (1995) The Re-Enchantement of the Concrete. Some Biological Ingredients for a Nouvelle Cognitive Science. (École Polytechnique). In: The Artificial Route to Artificial Intelligence: Building Embodied, Situated Agents. Edited by Luc Steels & Rodney Brooks, page 11, LEA, ISBN 0-8058-1519-8