SHEETS-JOHNSTONE (2014) – On the origin, nature, and genesis of habit

SHEETS-JOHNSTONE, Maxine. On the origin, nature, and genesis of habit. Phenomenology and Mind, n.6, p.96-116, 2014.

  • Brushing one’s teeth, tying a shoelace or knot, hammering a nail and not one’s thumb, writing one’s name, walking down stairs — each is a distinctive qualitative dynamic, a sequence of movements that has a distinctive beginning, a distinctive contour with distinctive intensity changes, for example, and a distinctive end. Each is a dynamic pattern of movement. We are born with none of these dynamic patterns, which is to say that they are not ready-made or innate in any sense. Each is learned. p.97
  • There is a lesson to be learned from this existential truth, namely, that whatever habits we develop in what we do and the way we do things, they exist because we learn the dynamics that constitute them, whether by trial and error, by assiduous practice, by resting and taking up the challenge again at a later time, or whatever. The mode of one’s learning may vary, but the formation of a habit in each instance is basically an enlargement of one’s kinetic repertoire, which is to say that one can form a habit only by learning a new dynamic pattern of movement. p.97
  • Infants indeed initiate their own learning by first of all learning their bodies and learning to move themselves (Sheets-Johnstone 1999a/expanded 2nd ed. 2011). p.97
  • Infants learn quite by themselves to reach effectively, to grasp objects effectively, to walk, to feed themselves, and ultimately, to talk and thereby exceed their classification as infants. Habits of mind proceed in concert with these habit formed and -informed accomplishments, most basically in expectations, i.e., in if/then relationships, of which more presently. p.97
  • Across the spectrum of human cultures, that is, in the most basic ontological sense that includes every human, habits are indeed a matter of having made the strange familiar. That familiarity becomes ingrained in what Husserl terms the psychophysical unity of animate organisms and their ways of living in the world. In more precise terms, habits develop by bringing what was out of reach and/or beyond understanding effectively and efficiently into the realm of the familiar and into what are basically synergies of meaningful movement that run off by themselves. Habits are indeed grounded from the beginning in movement, that is, in the primal animation of animate organisms that gives rise to sensings and sense-makings that evolve into synergies of meaningful movement and habits of mind. p.97-98
  • In the course of their learning their bodies and learning to move themselves effectively and efficiently, infants form certain ways of “doing” that generate an ever-expanding repertoire of “I cans” (Sheets-Johnstone 1999a/ expanded 2nd ed. 2011, Chapter 5). We might recall in this context Husserl’s and Landgrebe’s emphasis on the fact that “I move” precedes “I do” and “I can” (Husserl 1989, p. 273; Landgrebe 1977, pp. 107-108). Certain ways of “doing” are indeed constituted in and by certain qualitatively inflected movement dynamics that inform an infant’s “I cans,” dynamics that create particular spatio-temporal-energic patterns. Just as infants nurse in distinctive ways and kick their legs in distinctive ways, so they ultimately learn to walk in distinctive ways, which is to say that the qualitative dynamics of one infant’s movements are different from that of another. Ways of moving are indeed individualized. Moreover qualitatively inflected movement dynamics feed into a certain style, of which more later. What is of immediate moment here is that self-generated dynamics are the foundation of developmentally achieved habits. p.98
  • What Merleau-Ponty terms “natural signs,” including “the realm of instinct,” are part of the heritage of humans, Merleau-Ponty’s dismissal of them to the contrary. As noted in that discussion, “When Merleau-Ponty writes that ‘in man there is no natural sign’, and that ‘[i]t would be legitimate to speak of “natural signs” only if the anatomical organization of our body produced a correspondence between specific gestures and given “states of mind”’ (Merleau-Ponty 1962, pp. 188-189), he is surprisingly oblivious of the dynamic congruity that binds movement and emotions, the kinetic and the affective (Sheets-Johnstone 1999b/2009). p.99
  • There is a basic dimension of instincts, however, that warrants attention. In their pristine mode, i.e., before being possibly transformed by learnings of one kind and another, instincts are properly analyzed as self-organizing dynamics that flow forth experientially in spontaneous movement dispositions, thus basically, not just the spontaneous movement disposition of a fetus to move its thumb toward its mouth and not toward its ear or navel, for example, but the spontaneous disposition to move in and of itself in the first place, including movement of the neuromuscular system itself as it forms in utero. Such movement is not “action” nor is it “behavior.” It is the phenomenon of movement pure and simple — a phenomenon that in truth is not so simple when analyzed phenomenologically in descriptive experiential terms, that is, as a phenomenon in its own right. Indeed, this pure and simple phenomenon is incredibly complex, far more complex than the terms ‘action’ or ‘behavior’ suggest when they are implicitly and largely unwittingly used in its place, as in talk and writings of “action in perception” (Nöe 2004). Along similar lines, neither does “embodied movement” come close to a recognition of the phenomenological complexity of movement, even as in an attempt to abbreviate Husserl’s consistent specification of the two-fold articulation of perception and movement (Husserl 1989) by stating, “Our embodied movement participates in seeing, touching, hearing, etc., thereby informing our perceptual grasp on the world” (Gallagher and Zahavi 2012, p. 109). p.100
  • In effect, what I freely choose to do and do again that leaves a natural disposition or instinct behind is itself a habit: my freely formed movement itself in virtue of its repeated patterning is in a basic sense habitual. p.101
  • This existential reality is of moment for it indicates a substantively significant cognitive dimension in the formation of habits and in habits themselves. In more explicit terms, the intertwining of habit and free motivation and movement implicitly suggests habitual patterns of mind– habitual ways of valuing and of thinking. Given the fact that “consciousness of the world . . . is in constant motion” (Husserl 1970, p. 109), these habitual ways can hardly be ignored. p.102
  • Insofar as these relationships are foundational– “if I close my eyes, it is dark”; “if I move my lips and tongue in certain ways, I make and hear certain sounds”–it is not surprising that the relationships are foundational to everyday human habits, such as closing one’s eyes to go to sleep or when a light is too bright, and saying the words “No” and “Yes.” Just such kinesthetically felt and cognized experiences ground the faculty that Husserl identifies as the “I-can of the subject” (Husserl 1989, p. 13), a faculty that engenders a repertoire of abilities and possibilities that are indeed in many everyday instances habitual. More finely put in phenomenological terms, tactile-kinesthetic awarenesses and their invariants are realized in basic if/then relationships that we spontaneously discover in infancy in learning our bodies and learning to move ourselves. Tactile-kinesthetic awarenesses are thus a central aspect of animation, a tactile-kinesthetic built-in of life, a vital dimension in the formation of habits. p.102
  • In other words, habits of mind are also spurred by happenings and by particular valuings and thoughts that follow in response to those happenings that become standard. Though they are open to possible variations according to circumstance, they retain their basic dynamic: the bodily-felt dynamic of apprehension, for example, or of suspicion, and so on. p.102
  • “Each person nourishes his immortality in the ideology of self-perpetuation to which he gives his allegiance; this gives his life the only abiding significance it can have. No wonder men go into a rage over the fine points of belief: if your adversary wins the argument about truth, you die. Your immortality system has been shown to be fallible, your life becomes fallible” (Becker 1975, p. 64). p.103
  • The blinders of habit are clearly not limited to scientists, but include those whose “allegiance” deters them from considering findings, perspectives, or ideas different from, or inimical to their own. p.103
  • Concerns about a morphology of mind notwithstanding, the above discussion and examples indicate that habits of mind may be and commonly are formed coincident with kinetic habits, and from the beginning in learning one’s body and learning to move oneself. The full-scale realities of habit are indeed psycho-physical in nature and develop in concert with experience. They are at once cognitively, affectively, and kinetically dynamic: they flow forth with varying intensities, amplitudes, and perseverations in each of these dimensions of animate life and at the same time as a singular whole in the habit itself. p.104
  • “the unity of man encompasses these two components not as two realities externally linked with one another but instead as most intimately interwoven and in a certain way mutually penetrating (as is in fact established)” (Husserl 1989, p. 100). p.104
  • We are indeed freely-motivated and freely-moving (e.g., Husserl 2001, p. 283). These dual facts of human life are obviously of pivotal importance to our understandings of habit. Supposing we are sufficiently attuned to our affective/tactile-kinesthetic bodies, we can, for example, choose to change our habit of turning only toward certain things and not others, or of finding interest in only certain things and not others, or of doing only certain things and not others. These dual facts of human life are of pivotal importance as well to understandings of habit and its relation to style. p.105
  • A veritable phenomenological analysis of what is going on “in most actions” shows something quite different. It shows that, whether a matter of walking or eating or dressing ourselves or drying ourselves after a shower, or whether a matter of myriad other everyday “actions, the dexterity, the precision, the fluidity, and so on, that are necessary to the “action” running off are engrained in kinesthetic memory in the form of an ongoing qualitative dynamic that is spontaneously inflected and modulated according to circumstance, an ongoing qualitative dynamic that was learned and cultivated in earlier years and is now so dynamically familiar that it runs off by itself. In short, whatever the everyday adult actions, their dynamic familiarity is anchored in the tactile-kinesthetic body and thus in kinesthetic memory. p.107
  • It is indeed not that the body “tries to stay out of our way,” but that in learning our bodies and learning to move ourselves, we have amassed an incredibly varied and vast repertoire of I cans. To overlook ontogeny is thus to fail to ask oneself basic questions concerning one’s adult knowledge and in turn foil foundational elucidations of habit. It should be added that neither does Merleau-Ponty asks himself ontogenetic questions, basically genetic phenomenology questions, nor does he, in his discussion of habit, provide answers to the question of how habits come to be formed. p.107
  • Further still, doing phenomenological justice to “habitual or practiced movements” means realizing that movement is not a matter of body parts having “changed position in space.” By its very nature, movement is neither positional nor is it simply spatial. Movement is a phenomenon in its own right, a spatiotemporal- energic phenomenon that is clearly distinguishable in essential ways from objects in motion, which do change position in space. p.108-09
  • Moreover kinesthesia can hardly be ignored since it, along with tactility, is the first sensory modality to develop neurologically in utero (Windle 1971) and, barring accidents, is there for life. p.109
  • As Stern states, “In order for the infant to have any formed sense of self, there must ultimately be some organization that is sensed as a reference point. The first such organization concerns the body: its coherence, its actions, its inner feeling states, and the memory of all these” (Stern 1985, p. 46; see also Sheets-Johnstone 1999c). Though not specified as such, these invariants all rest on  the tactile-kinesthetic body (Sheets-Johnstone 1999b/expanded 2nd ed. 2011). The description of each dimension indeed validates the primacy of movement and the tactile-kinesthetic body. p.110
  • Surely it is essential for phenomenologists to attempt a regressive inquiry, to take an ontogenetic perspective and carry out a constructive phenomenology. Habits are a fundamental dimension of human life. Indeed, we could not readily live without them. If everything were new at each turn, if all familiarity was erased and strangeness was ever-present, life as we know it would be impossible. p.112
  • What we notice in another person’s style are precisely just such aspects of another person’s comportment—the ways in which he or she typically relates to his or her surrounding world, thus not only the way in which a person “behaves,” i.e., his or her typical kinetic qualitative dynamics, but the things the person typically values, his or her typical lines of thought, what he or she typically notices, and so on. p.112
  • There is a certain familiarity about the person that is simply there, evidenced in the dynamics of his or her comportment across our history with them, hence dynamics that we have experienced before and have now come to expect. It should be noted that we do not anticipate ourselves in the way we anticipate others. As indicated above, we are commonly less aware of our own qualitative dynamics than we are of the qualitative dynamics of others unless we have attuned ourselves to our own movement. p.113
  • When we begin not with an adultist perspective and speculative entities to explain various phenomena, but with a veritable reconstructive or constructive phenomenology that allows one to “get back” to those nonlinguistic days in which we learned our bodies and learned to move ourselves and in the process formed nonlinguistic corporeal concepts in concert with synergies of meaningful movement, we approach veritable understandings of mind. We find that those synergies of meaningful movement are orchestrated not by an embodied mind but by a mindful body, alive to and cognizant to its surrounding world and developing fundamental abilities to move effectively and efficiently within it from infancy and in fact from in utero onward. p.113

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BARBOSA (2016) – Laban e Merleau-Pnty: relação entre teorias de corpo, movimento e percepção

BARBOSA, Vivian Vieira Peçanha. Laban e Merleau-Pnty: relação entre teorias de corpo, movimento e percepção. Moringa, v.7, n.1, p.97-117, jan/jun 2016.

  • Tanto a fenomenologia da percepção em Merleau-Ponty como as teorias de movimento/dança em Laban fornecem uma visão na qual é imprescindível a experiência do corpo vivido em primeira pessoa. p.98
  • Como os dois autores, em suas teorias, trazem em seus pensamentos a ideia de um indivíduo encarnado, sujeito e objeto de seu movimento e de sua percepção? p.98

1. O sujeito movente em Laban

  • Em seus textos, Laban defende, em diversas passagens, conexões indissolúveis entre corpo, espaço, movimento, pensamento e emoção que se aproximam ou traçam paralelos, atualmente, com as abordagens de várias (se não de todas) as escolas, técnicas e abordagens somáticas1 e, como veremos, com a fenomenologia merleau-pontiana. p.99
  • Na Eukinética ou Teoria dos Esforços, compreendida como a parte dos estudos de Laban em que ele dá enfoque às qualidades e dinâmicas do movimento, encontramos uma imensa riqueza de noções que nos remetem à inseparabilidade entre sentir, pensar e agir. Ao delimitar as qualidades definidas através dos fatores de movimento (peso, tempo, espaço e fluência ou fluxo), Laban trata das conexões entre o que chama de atitudes ou impulsos internos e o movimento humano tornado visível em atitude externa. p.99-100
  • Ao conceber a ideia de atitude interna, Laban atribui a cada impulso uma qualidade dinâmica correspondente de Esforço, aqui compreendido pelo sentido do étimo alemão Antrieb (que foi traduzido para o inglês como Effort) como ímpeto para o movimento. Essa atitude da qual Laban fala se define ao tornar visível o invisível do corpo – um invisível que é já gestado na relação do sujeito consigo e com o mundo. p.100
  • Também aqui, Laban parece se aproximar de Merleau-Ponty (1999) já que o corpo do indivíduo é sempre o ponto de vista singular do ser humano sobre o mundo, assim como o presente de cada um é seu ponto de vista particular sobre o tempo. p.100
  • A atitude ou impulso interno, como Laban denomina, está, portanto, relacionada a uma vida interior complexa e intensa que se move dentro de nós e a partir das nossas relações com o mundo, e que pode ser desvelada, mesmo que através de micro-movimentos ou movimentos de sombra (LABAN, 2011b). p.100
  • Essa fonte inesgotável de energia criativa gera, mantém e recria nossos movimentos em suas dinâmicas (Esforços) e em sua espacialidade, revelando uma concepção encarnada de alma no pensamento de Laban: a alma humana não está fora do corpo, mas é corpo, e é no aspecto mais artesanal da experiência de sua corporeidade que o homem encontra os sentidos e potências de sua existência. Há, aqui, uma memória do gesto como intensidade, que em seu silêncio e esquecimento produz a potência da gênese criativa do movimento. p.101
  • O esquecimento, nesse caso, visa desfazer automatismos e saberes adquiridos, suscitando “um estado de receptividade”, um estado de “presença-ausência” capaz de reavivar “disposições motrizes adormecidas” que possuem relação direta com a ideia de Mundo do Silêncio. p.101
  • É possível detectar, nos escritos de Laban, a concepção de que essas relações entre a atitude interna e o movimento visível não se dão em via de mão única. Ou seja, do mesmo modo que os impulsos criam e modificam o movimento, o movimento cria e modifica os impulsos, uma vez que, as “[…] ações corporais realizadas com consciência imaginativa estimulam e enriquecem a vida interior” (LABAN, 2011b, p. 81, livre tradução). p.102
  • Laban elencou quatro atitudes internas que corresponderiam à possibilidade particular que cada um tem de se relacionar com os quatro fatores de movimento:
    • O fator espaço se conecta diretamente a atitudes internas de atenção;
    • O fator peso se conecta diretamente a atitudes internas de intenção;
    • O fator tempo se conecta diretamente a atitudes internas de decisão;
    • O fator fluxo se conecta diretamente a atitudes internas relacionadas à precisão.
  • “Atenção, intenção e decisão são as fases da preparação interna de uma ação corporal exterior. Isto acontece quando, através do fluxo de movimento, o esforço tem expressão concreta no corpo” (LABAN, 2011b, p. 81, livre tradução). p.103 – atenção, intenção e decisão são aspectos cognição.
  • Assim, se os fatores somente podem se concretizar e ganhar sentido na experiência, é possível concluir que a teoria labaniana não deve e não pode se encerrar em definições estanques, mas que se completa e se renova a cada nuance que a própria experiência encarnada do movimento implica. p.103
  • Nos cruzamentos quiásmicos, o sujeito comporta em si a alteridade e se relaciona com os outros de si e de um “fora”, enquanto corpo reflexivo capaz de sentir e de se sentir a um só tempo, de ser, de uma só vez, sujeito e objeto da percepção. p.104
  • Aquilo que pulsa, então, é o que me mantém vivo, é o que move e que me move a partir do momento em que reconheço tal pulsação e que me coloco no mundo com ela e a partir dela – em um movimento que acontece, simultaneamente, para dentro e para fora, como na ideia de corpo reflexivo merleau-pontiana. p.105
  • Laban aponta, assim, para uma indissociabilidade que se mostra como potência, desvelando o que, na Teoria dos Esforços, eclode como forças puras: categorias pré-gestuais que, postas em trabalho, ou, mais propriamente, em movimento, formam, deformam e transformam um eu nunca estático, mas extático (no sentido do êxtase que possibilita a abertura para o que está fora do que conheço), no constante engajamento da construção de si, através de uma motricidade que mobiliza das camadas mais superficiais até aquelas mais profundas da própria existência, ultrapassando o movimento limitado apenas ao aparelho locomotor humano e suas funções mecânicas. p.106
  • Portanto, o modo do surgimento e da visibilidade destas forças puras é sempre sujeito-dependente, ou seja, acontece apenas quando o indivíduo se alimenta de uma práxis que pode levar a inúmeras descobertas para a geração de poéticas singulares da corporeidade. p.106
  • A cinesfera, os níveis, os planos, as direções dependem sempre de alguém que os mova em seu corpo e que os suporte a partir das referências do próprio movimento em seu engajamento no mundo. O espaço corêutico de Laban pressupõe um sujeito movente que, enquanto ser ativo, dá orientação ao espaço. p.107

2. A consciência encarnada: o corpo da experiência perceptiva

  • É perceptível que, mesmo com as influências de cunho cientificista e estruturalista a partir das quais Laban organiza seu sistema de análise do movimento, há uma preocupação direta com a questão da experiência concreta do movimento no/do corpo a partir da qual se criam sentidos para a própria existência humana. p.108
  • A ação, neste caso, torna-se chave no conhecimento de si, do outro e do mundo e o corpo, engajado na ação, não mais pode ser tomado como coisa e nem animado por consciência ou alma externa: em Merleau-Ponty, assim como em Laban, o corpo vivo, vivido e vivendo é protagonista de si, e funciona como uma teia viva de significações. p.109-110
  • Surge disto a ideia de consciência encarnada, isto é, “uma consciência radicalmente vinculada a um corpo e inscrita no mundo” (SOMBRA, 2006, p. 55), que não permite mais o retorno da visão do sujeito como passividade diante de um mundo objetivo em si mesmo e nem a visão de um sujeito enquanto pura atividade formativa de um mundo como ideia (dualidade realismo X intelectualismo). p.110
  • Nota 3 – A redução fenomenológica permite uma aproximação de um contato mais ingênuo com o mundo, como queria Merleau-Ponty, suspendendo momentaneamente as crenças e conhecimentos do sujeito sobre si mesmo e o mundo ao seu redor. Esta operação abriria espaço para o que o filósofo chama de consciência pré-reflexiva, ou seja, o momento em que o corpo ganha o mundo sem referenciá-lo nos conceitos já apreendidos pela cultura. Com isto, o filósofo objetiva uma “revisão da noção clássica de percepção e de consciência, comprometidas com o intelectualismo” (SOMBRA, 2006, p. 114). p.110
  • Na filosofia de Merleau-Ponty é o corpo, fundamentado em seus diversos aspectos espaciais, temporais, móveis, simbólicos, intencionais, quem é tomado enquanto fenômeno, o corpo capaz de dar vida ao mundo, sendo, de uma só vez, sujeito e objeto da percepção. p.110
  • Assim, ao analisar o fenômeno da percepção centralizado no sujeito/corpo que percebe, o corpo enquanto mero veículo ou instrumento de uma mente ou alma capaz de alcançar o conhecimento cai por terra, dando lugar a um corpo vivido, a um corpo da experiência: o mundo não é o que eu penso, mas o que eu vivo. p.110
  • Tal vivência pressupõe que há um mundo que existe em nossa vida antes mesmo de ser objeto do pensamento, uma vivência ligada fundamentalmente à sinestesia, à motricidade, à experiência encarnada da consciência de nossa relação constante conosco, com as coisas, com o outro, com o mundo. p.110-11
  • No entanto, o filósofo não desmerece nem a visão de um fora corpóreo ou do corpo apreendido por um ponto de vista estrangeiro, e nem a visão de dentro, do interior do sujeito. Os dois pontos de vista convergem para a inseparabilidade entre o objeto percebido e o sujeito da percepção. Deriva disto que, ao mesmo tempo em que percebo o mundo, percebo a mim mesmo e me percebo no mundo, levando à conclusão de que não só tenho corpo, mas sou corpo. p.111
  • A espacialidade é tradicionalmente compreendida enquanto lugar das coisas, o ar dentro de uma casa, um volume, um ambiente que suporta as coisas do mundo. Mas já aprendemos em Laban que corpo e espaço são faces de uma mesma realidade, que não se separam, mas fazem parte de um mesmo fluxo infinito de movimento. Merleau-Ponty, por sua vez, também vem nos chamar atenção justamente para o enraizamento do espaço na existência, na experiência. Nada se dá de forma isolada no mundo – “Ser corpo, nós o vimos, é estar atado a um certo mundo, e nosso corpo não está primeiramente no espaço: ele é no espaço” (MERLEAU-PONTY, 1999. p 205). p.11
  • Porém, para apreender o mundo, necessitamos explorá-lo corporalmente, nas possibilidades que temos de nos locomover, de alcançar objetos e pessoas, de tocar a nós mesmos e de, pelo movimento, sentir o espaço do corpo em suas diversas relações consigo mesmo e com o mundo. Disso resulta que meu corpo não pode se configurar como um mosaico, como uma colagem ou sobreposição objetiva de suas partes, mas sim como organismo, esquema corporal (MERLEAU-PONTY, 1999, p. 143) a partir do qual me reconheço como organização afetiva, móvel e sensível. p.112
  • A estrutura temporal do corpo e da experiência põe o sujeito, em sua mobilidade e espacialidade como ponto de vista inescapável da perspectiva que formamos sobre as durações, o passado e o futuro. p.112
  • Assim, compreendendo o corpo próprio da experiência como uma verdadeira rede ou sistema cujos aspectos são indissociáveis uns dos outros e pressupondo, nessa rede ou sistema, um engajamento do sujeito intencional e realizado na mobilidade corpórea capaz de Laban e Merleau-Ponty: relações entre teorias de corpo, movimento e percepção perceber o mundo, Merleau-Ponty aponta para a compreensão de uma unicidade do corpo comparável àquela das obras de arte: p.112-113

3. A percepção e o movimento em primeira pessoa

  • Tanto Laban quanto Merleau-Ponty se afastam de uma visão meramente interna ou externa do corpo, do movimento, da percepção. A partir de teorias que se opõem às dicotomias e separações entre mente e corpo e entre sujeito e objeto, os dois pensadores criam pontos de tensão e oposição em relação às concepções fundantes do positivismo científico. Ou seja, nem só temos, de um lado, o sujeito criando para si mesmo uma percepção própria a partir de suas sensações e estados mentais, nem só temos, de outro lado, o mundo e seus objetos como informações dadas, à priori, de “fora para dentro”. p.113
  • Há, nos dois casos, uma aproximação a um sujeito receptivo, aberto para a experiência e, por isso mesmo, aberto para a desestruturação e o rearranjo dos conhecimentos adquiridos, dos conceitos aprendidos, dos automatismos. Na fenomenologia merleau-pontiana perceber implica mover o corpo e o espaço com uma certa ingenuidade; na teoria de movimento labaniana mover implica perceber o corpo e o espaço também com uma certa ingenuidade. Nesse sentido, o pensamento que Laban engloba em toda ação não seria um pensamento analítico ou racionalizante, mas um movimento do psiquismo que simplesmente não pode ser excluído de nosso modo de estar e ser no mundo. p.114
  • De maneira aproximada, o corpo próprio que Merleau-Ponty nos apresenta na fase inicial de seu trabalho é o oposto do corpo visto como coisa ou objeto, mas o corpo da experiência, o corpo vivido, a partir do qual é possível desenvolver uma fenomenologia do ponto de vista do sujeito da percepção. p.114
  • A consciência encarnada merleau-pontiana e a alma corpórea labaniana se desdobram, então, por caminhos distintos, e desembocam na afirmação da existência e da experiência concreta do corpo vivido enquanto chave fundamental para uma relação imbricada com o mundo, até o ponto em que o homem e o mundo, o espaço e o movimento constituem uma única e mesma carne. p.115

SHEETS-JOHNSTONE (2012) – From movement to dance

SHEETS-JOHNSTONE, Maxine. From movement to dance. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, v.11, n.1, p.39-57, March 2012.

  1. How does meaning emerge in dance?
  2. With respect to dancers having to “memorize” a piece of choreography, the announcement asked, “what are the cognitive mechanisms that constrain and control the acquisition and performance of dance?”
  3. Can a movement’s “quality” be related to observable movement parameters?
  • “the limits of cognitive science”— because being largely tethered to the lexical band-aid of “embodiment” and its derivatives, to a motorology, and to happenings in a brain, it lacks foundational grounding in experience, notably, in the actual experience of movement, which is to say in kinesthesia, a neuromuscular sensory modality common to all humans, thus the proper point of departure for investigations into cross-cultural universals underlying the art of dance. p.40
  • Indeed, insofar as Merleau-Ponty considered dancing to be nothing more or other than “a motor habit” and stated simply that “forming the habit of dancing is discovering, by analysis, the formula of the movement in question” (Merleau-Ponty 1962, pp. 146, 142, respectively), it would be pointless to cite him as having anything of moment to say about either the phenomenology of movement, i.e., the essentially dynamic structure of movement, or the memorization of a dance, that is, the kinesthetic challenge of learning and performing an extended movement dynamic. p.41
  • Bergson wrote, “A movement is learned when the body has been made to understand it”; Bergson 1991 [1896], p. 112). p.41
  • What this special issue on the art of dance as a formed and performed art provides us is indeed the opportunity to examine in rarified depth the phenomenology of the spatial, temporal, and energic character of self-movement, or, in other words, the dynamics of kinesthetic experience. p.41
  • Kinesthesia in particular is not just in the service of the perception of objects. It is a sensory modality in its own right, one that is experientially resonant in and of itself, thus one that can be phenomenologically investigated and analyzed and its dynamic qualitative structure made apparent. p.42
  • Jeannerod’s treatment of kinesthesia occurs in the context of “conscious knowledge about one’s actions” (Jeannerod 2006, p. 56) p.42
  • in light of the insuppressibility of kinesthesia—we do not have to wait until something untoward occurs that awakens us into awareness and deters us from continuing on our way. On the contrary, precisely because movement is a dynamic happening and because the dynamics of our everyday movement have become habitual and are within our repertoire of what Husserl terms our “I cans,” we can consult them at any time. p.43
  • any time we care to pay attention to our own movement—our own “action” — there it is. Not only this, but as intimated, we all learned our bodies and learned to move ourselves as infants and young children (ibid.). From this pan-human ontological perspective, the idea of starting with “action” is actually adultist; movement obviously comes first. There would indeed be no action if movement were not present “from the first day” and before, present and there to be honed and perfected. In learning our bodies and learning to move ourselves by attending to our own movement, we forged an untold number of dynamic patterns that became habitual. Familiar dynamics — tying a knot, brushing one’s teeth, buttering one’s toast, writing one’s name, pulling weeds, sweeping, typing, playing a Bach prelude, and so on — are woven into our bodies and played out along the lines of our bodies; they are kinesthetic/kinetic melodies in both a neurological and experiential sense (Luria 1966, 1973). p.43
  • In sum, when we turn attention to our own coordinated dynamics (Kelso 1995; Kelso and Engstrøm 2006), we recognize kinesthetic melodies; they bear the stamp of our own qualitatively felt movement patterns, our own familiar synergies of meaningful movement (Sheets-Johnstone 2009a, b, 2011). p.43
  • It should be noted that the phenomenologically disclosed dimensions of movement are separable only analytically; that is, they are always integral parts of what is experientially a whole kinesthetic/kinetic dynamic. What greets the phenomenological observer first and foremost is indeed the fact that movement is a dynamic reality whose complexity far exceeds simple definition. Tensional, linear, areal, and projectional aspects of movement are qualitative aspects of movement that together constitute its dynamics. p.44
  • Tensional quality specifies the felt intensity of a movement, an intensity that may well change in the course of the movement, as in kicking a ball, sawing a piece of wood, picking up a suitcase, and so on. p.45
  • Linear quality describes both the linear design of a moving body and the linear pattern of the movement itself. Both qualitative aspects are obviously spatial in character. p.45
  • Areal quality, like linear quality, has two aspects that again are obviously spatial. They derive from the moving body and from movement itself, areal design describing the former, areal pattern describing the latter. In quite general terms, the areal design of our moving body may be anywhere from constricted to expansive, its shape at the one extreme being predominantly small and inwardly oriented and at the other extreme being predominantly large and outwardly oriented. p.45
  • Projectional quality is apparent in the manner in which our movement unfolds, the way in which its tensional quality is kinetically manifest. Generally speaking, four different qualities are possible: abrupt, sustained, ballistic, and collapsing. p.46
  • it should be clear that the quality of movement derives from the qualitative structure of movement. The constellation of qualities inherent in movement imbues any movement with an overall readily apparent qualitative dynamic: its intensity, expansiveness, rigidity, unswervingness, suddenness, and so on are all variables—“observable parameters” of movement. Furthermore, and most importantly, the qualitative variables are not simply observable parameters but variables that are kinesthetically felt by the individual who is moving. The movement, in turn, has a qualitatively felt dynamic. With respect to dance, the dynamic is unquestionably complex, in part simply because a dance is incomparably more complex than common everyday movements or even a series of common everyday movements such as dressing oneself or drying oneself after a shower. p.46
  • What is observable from an audience’s perspective is already kinesthetically felt by dancers, “already” in the sense of their already being kinesthetically attuned to the qualitative dynamics of the dance they are dancing, and this because they have practiced, perfected, and rehearsed its choreography. p.47
  • how the dancer “memorizes” the dance, that is, to the so-called cognitive mechanisms that “constrain and control the acquisition and performance of dance,” “so-called” because to begin with, kinesthetic memory—like kinesthesia itself—is not a “cognitive mechanism.” p.47
  • To remember anything, after all, is to have learned it to begin with. Accordingly, what the dancer remembers is what she has kinesthetically learned. More emphatically put, since dance is a matter of movement, the memory of a dance by a dancer cannot be grounded in anything other than in her/ his kinesthetic experience of the movement that constitutes the dance. p.47
  • In The Working Brain, Luria discusses movement pathologies as disturbed “kinetic/kinesthetic melodies” and describes how they are constituted. He uses writing as an example, stating that “In the initial stages, writing depends on memorizing the graphic form of every letter. It takes place through a chain of isolated motor impulses, each of which is responsible for the performance of only one element of the graphic structure; with practice, this structure of the process is radically altered and writing is converted into a single ‘kinetic melody’, no longer requiring the memorizing of the visual form of each isolated letter or individual motor impulses for making every stroke” (Luria 1973, p. 32). He continues by noting that voluntary movement is a “complex functional system” and that “the perfect performance of a movement” is possible on the basis of four fundamental conditions: (1) kinaesthetic afferentation, (2) spatial coordinates that emanate from “the visual and vestibular systems and the system of cutaneous kinaesthetic sensation,” (3) a chain of consecutive movements, each of which must be denervated after its completion so as to allow the next element to take its place, and (4) a motor task, which at more complex levels of conscious action “are dictated by intentions” (ibid., pp. 35–37). Voluntary movement, he observes, is thus the orchestrated result of “completely different brain systems” (ibid., p. 37) that work together in such a way that a kinetic/kinesthetic melody unfolds. p.47
  • “In the initial stages of formation of any movement,” kinetic impulses are “isolated,” but with the development of skillful movement, “the individual impulses are synthesized and combined into integral kinaesthetic structures or kinetic melodies when a single impulse is sufficient to activate a complete dynamic stereotype of automatically interchanging elements” (Luria 1973, p. 176). Moreover, at a later point, he specifies that the construction and performance of any complex movement depend on: (1) an intact frontal lobe (an intentional “brain zone”); (2) kinesthesia; and (3) temporal organization (“a constant regulation of muscle tone…and a sufficiently rapid and smooth changeover from one system of motor innervations to another, with the formation of complete kinaesthetic melodies in the final stages of development of skilled movement”; ibid., pp. 251–253). p.48
  • As Luria points out, the degrees of freedom in human movement and a constantly changing muscle tone “explain why it is that, in the performance of a voluntary movement or action, although the motor task preserves its regulatory role, the highest responsibility is transferred from efferent to afferent impulses” (Luria 1973, p. 249). Kinesthesia is thus of maximal significance to voluntary everyday movement, and its significance for dance could in turn hardly be more transparent. p.48
  • They are what Luria terms “integral kinaesthetic structures” (ibid., p. 176), which is to say that they are experienced, corporeally resonant dynamic patterns of movement that we initiate and that then flow forth on their own with marginal rather than focal attention. The particular “integral kinaesthetic structure” that constitutes a dance is similarly a corporeally resonant dynamic pattern of movement that is initiated, and it too flows forth, but in a distinctly different experiential manner: it is focally attended to. Its dynamics are fully and finely experienced. They constitute an ongoing, continuously unfolding kinesthetically experienced present (see Sheets-Johnstone 1981, 1999a, 2009a). The so-called cognitive mechanisms that control and constrain a dancer’s knowledge of the dance, both in learning it — or “acquiring” it—and in performing it, are thus not (to borrow from Aristotle) “prime-mover” brain events but in-the-flesh kinesthetic experiences that undergird the dancer’s learning of the dance in the first place and in turn sustain her or his performance of it. In short, kinesthetic memory is a faculty grounded in kinesthetic consciousness (for more on kinesthetic consciousness and its phylogenetic and ontogenetic histories, see Sheets-Johnstone 1998, 1999a). It is important to emphasize the preeminence of dynamics in this context. p.48
  • The inherent qualitative dynamics of movement attest to the fact that movement creates its own space, time, and force. In other words, any movement has a particular spatial and temporal character that is dynamically created by the mover in the very act of moving, p.49
  • The inherent qualitative dynamics of movement come to the fore in dance: rather than simply taking place in space and in time, movement creates its own space, time, and force and thereby a particular dynamic that informs the dance every step of the way and in fact constitutes its uniqueness. p.49
  • Kinetic dynamics are thus of the essence of kinesthetic memory in just the way they are of the essence of kinesthetic/kinetic melodies. Melody and memory are indeed dynamic images of one another, precisely as Luria indicates in writing of kinetic melodies as “integral kinaesthetic structures.” In effect, kinesthetic memories are not vague, abstract kinetic phantoms. They are inscribed in and by the body in the form of specific qualitatively articulated dynamics. What a dancer learns in the way of choreography is thus a dynamic whose kinetic form is unique because its qualitative patternings are unique. In performing the dance, the dancer does not simply move through the form; the form moves through her. It moves through her with fluidity because the dynamics of the form are inscribed in kinesthetic memory and flow forth on their own. p.49
  • Learning and remembering certain basic techniques of being a body in movement are the foundation of the form of dance known as CI. The techniques are essential to the on-the-spot, spontaneous, and ongoing creation of the improvisational form. They are firmly rooted in the experience of self-movement, that is, in the pan-human sense modality of kinesthesia. p.50
  • In the process of learning, integral kinesthetic structures come to undergird a familiar kinetic melody whose kinesthetically felt dynamics flow forth ultimately without hesitation or doubt. In both instances, the sense modality of kinesthesia is basic. p.50
  • Dances have meaning—then such “meaning” emanates from the qualitative kinetic dynamics that constitute any particular dance. If this is so, however, then the relationship between affective and kinesthetic dynamics must be investigated and this because emotions—not “information”—are consistently linked with aesthetic objects. p.51
  • Moreover, both natural and culturally spawned everyday movement attest to a fundamental relationship between emotions and movement, as when one spontaneously widens one’s eyes in surprise or recoils in fear on the one hand, and extends one’s hand in a friendly greeting or slams a door in anger on the other. p.51
  • What becomes apparent on the basis of both the empirical and phenomenological evidence is that a dynamic congruency exists between movement and emotion (ibid.). Dynamic kinetic forms articulated in and through the qualities of movement as they are created in the very act of moving are congruent with dynamic forms of feeling as they are affectively felt, that is, as they are affectively lived through. p.52
  • That we are able to feign emotions and to restrain our movement testifies precisely to their natural dynamic congruency: we may expressively mime na emotion but not experience it, just as we may corporeally experience it but not carry it into movement. p.52
    any qualitative kinetic form of an emotion is not identical with the emotion but is formally congruent with it. p.52
  • Whatever the dance, she or he is kinesthetically present in a thoroughgoing experiential sense to the unfolding qualitative kinetic dynamic that is the dance (see Sheets-Johnstone 1981, 1999a, 2009a for a descriptive analysis). p.52
  • Daniel Stern (Stern 1985), it has “vitality affects” throughout, and these vitality affects give it an affective resonance, which is to say that its kinetic dynamics resonate affectively. In Langer’s terms, it has “vital import,” precisely in the sense of having a dynamic congruent with “inner life,” with “subjective experience,” with “the appearance of feeling.” p.52
  • There may be connotative gestures, even denotative ones, but the dance’s qualitative kinetic dynamics carry the day. They are the “stuff” of the dance, its heart, and, for the dancer, its very breath. p.52
  • For the dancer, as indicated, there is no actual emotion that is either moving through her body or moving her to move. There is only the movement itself—the kinesthetic/kinetic melody etched in kinesthetic memory that she is bringing to life. p.53
  • all animate movement has both na inside and an outside (for a detailed description, see Sheets-Johnstone 2009a, pp. 194–199). It is both a kinesthetic and kinetic reality, a felt bodily dynamic for the mover, a visual bodily dynamic for the individual seeing the movement. p.53
  • The qualitative dynamics of dance as a formed and performed art are not reducible to brain events, whether in the form of neuron firings, blood flow, or whatever. Moreover any move to “codify them,” as it were, by way of popular present-day labels and terminologies such as “embodied movement” or “sensorimotor skill” would be to compound the problem of understanding them in their own terms, which are and remain a matter of movement, a distinctive kinesthetic/kinetic phenomenon. p.54
  • Indeed, we do not experience our skills motorically but kinesthetically, and moreover learn them to begin with in hands-on, first-person experience. Moreover, a label such as “motor embodiment” (Varela and Depraz 2005; Thompson 2007) exacerbates what are already egregious conceptual scramblings of the lived-through realities of animate movement. To add to such obfuscations are all too common misconceptions of movement. The phenomenological analysis of movement disclosed qualitative dimensions of movement that testify to its being a spatio-temporal-energic dynamic phenomenon, and, as noted earlier, being such a phenomenon, it is inaccurately described simply as taking place in space and in time. Moreover, kinesthesia is not uncommonly falsely specified in terms of sensations, which are spatially pointillist and temporally punctual in character (for a detailed account, see Sheets-Johnstone 2006), and hence lack precisely the ability to constitute and sustain that unbroken dynamic continuum that constitutes movement. Kinesthesia is in fact commonly and erroneously tethered simply to posture—a wholly stilled mode of being a body—the inadvertent result perhaps of conceiving movement and defining movement as “a change of position.” p.54
  • Cognition is thus not the ground floor of being, human being or any other kind of animate being. Animation and dynamics are the basic defining feature of life in all its forms. They undergird the progressive formation of fundamental spatial-temporalenergic concepts such as far, near, weak, strong, open, close, large, small, and so on, that is, concepts that are, to begin with, corporeal concepts, that is, nonlinguistic concepts (Sheets-Johnstone 1990, 2004, 2009a [Chapter 14], 2010).6 They undergird cognitive explorations, affective dispositions, progressively formed beliefs about the nature of the world, affective interactions with and knowledge about confrères, and so on. When we move from these basic understandings of movement itself in a quest to understand dance, we properly and effectively ground our understandings of the aesthetic realities of dance in the real-life kinesthetic realities that are the foundation of dance as both a formed and performed art. p.55

SHEETS-JOHNSTONE (2014) – Animation: analyses, elaborations, and implications.

SHEETS-JOHNSTONE, Maxine. Animation: analyses, elaborations, and implications. Husserl Sutudies, v.30, n.3, p.247-268, 2014.


  • This article highlights a neglected, if not wholly overlooked, topic in phenomenology, a topic central to Husserl’s writings on animate organism, namely, animation.  P.247
  • The article furthermore highlights Husserl’s pointed recognition of ‘‘the problem of movement,’’ movement being an essential dimension of animation if not definitive of animation itself. p.247
  • What indeed is livingly present in the experience of movement, whether our own movement and the movement of other animate beings, or the movement of leaves, clouds, and so on? What distinguishes kinesthetic from kinetic experiences of movement? How are movement and time related? Just what is the problem of movement and how do we address it? In what way is movement pertinent to receptivity and responsivity?
  • To be animate is to have the capacity to move oneself and to experience the spatiotemporal-energic dynamics of one’s movement. An animate organism is thus not just a living organism but a moving organism, an organism that feels the dynamic flow of its movement: its direction and amplitude, its intensity, its duration and speed. Moreover it feels an affective impulsion to move in the first place, and that affective character informs the flow of its movement throughout—every step, turn, or pause along the way. Animate organisms are moved to move and kinesthetically experience in felt bodily ways the particular qualitative dynamics of their movement: a slow, hobbling walk; a striding, forceful rush forward; a dawdling, circular strolling about; and so on. p.248
  • Primal sensibility, however, is first and foremost not a primal sensibility of the world; it is a primal sensibility of one’s living body, which is to say one’s animate organism. In effect, primal sensibility rests on the ground of primal animation, the foundational reality of being a moving being, and a moving being from fetal development onward, including being an affectively moving being (Johnstone 2012). p.248
  • We are kinesthetically attuned to our own movement, to its inherent qualitative dynamics, which is to say that we are alive, in a felt bodily sense, to the temporal, spatial, and energic qualities that give our movement its overall defining character — its vigorous explosiveness as in kicking, its sustained expansiveness as in stretching, and so on. p.248
  • Animate organisms are thus at bottom gifted not simply with primal sensibility but with primal animation, which is ‘‘simply there,’’ and there from the beginnings of life in utero. One might even say that animate organisms are developmentally and ever after made of movement and endowed with movement, inside and out. p.248
  • An animate body is indeed movement through and through, movement that with respect to some animate organisms is on ehalf of learning their body and learning to move themselves to begin with. Such learning is foundational to their exploring the world and coming to know it, to satisfying hunger, to escaping a predator, to procreation, and so on. p.249
  • In this context too, we can point out that, however neglected, there is no doubt but that Husserl explicitly recognized the foundational significance of movement in his combined epistemological-ontological insight that ‘‘I move’’ precedes ‘‘I do’’ and ‘‘I can’’ (Hua IV, pp. 261/273; see also Hua IV, pp. 259/271). Landgrebe appears to be the single phenomenologist who has taken this insight seriously or at least realized its fundamental, indeed essential significance (Landgrebe 1977, pp. 107–108; 1981, Chaps. 1 and 2). In the context of describing the significance of ‘‘I move,’’ i.e., this ‘‘prelinguistic acquaintance with oneself as the center of a spontaneous ability to move,’’ Landgrebe writes, ‘‘kinaesthetic motions, without which there can be no constitution of time, are the most fundamental dimension of transcendental subjectivity, the genuinely original sphere, so that even the body (Leib), as functioning body, is not just something constituted but is itself constituting as the transcendental condition of the possibility of each higher level of consciousness and of its reflexive character’’ (Landgrebe 1977, p. 108; italics added). As indicated above, movement is the ground floor of learning our bodies and learning to move ourselves effectively and efficiently in the world, in effect of achieving a repertoire of ‘‘I cans’’ in the first place (Sheets-Johnstone 2011a, Chap. 5). It should in fact be noted that any kind of ‘‘action’’ or ‘‘activity’’ involves movement: by its very nature, any sotermed ‘‘action’’ or ‘‘activity’’-–be it kicking a ball, shopping for bread, reading a book, or writing a letter–is not only by nature constituted in and through movement but could not be conceived as a packaged unit of some kind short of movement. Moreover we might point out in this context that kinesthesia, the sense modality that gives us an immediate and direct experience of our own movement, is insuppressible. In the context of examining ‘‘conscious knowledge about one’s actions’’ and experimental research that might address the question of such knowledge, including experimental research dealing with pathologically afflicted individuals, psychologist Marc Jeannerod affirms, ‘‘There are no reliable methods for suppressing kinesthetic information arising during the execution of a movement’’ (Jeannerod 2006, p. 56). ‘‘Information’’ terminology aside, especially in the context not of position or posture but of movement, Jeannerod’s declarative finding speaks reams about the foundational ongoing reality and significance of kinesthesia, reams that should certainly lead phenomenologists to take kinesthesia seriously and the challenge of elucidating its insuppressible living dynamics of signal importance. (2 – Clearly—and particularly in light of the insuppressibility of kinesthesia—we do not have to wait until something untoward occurs that awakens us into awareness and deters us from continuing on our way. On the contrary, precisely because movement is a dynamic happening and because the dynamics of our everyday movement have become habitual and are within our repertoire of what Husserl terms our ‘‘I cans,’’ we can consult them at any time. In short, and as I have elsewhere shown (Sheets-Johnstone 2011a), any time we care to pay attention to our own movement, there it is. Furthermore, we all learned our bodies and learned to move ourselves as infants and young children (ibid.). From this pan-human ontological perspective, the idea of starting with ‘‘action’’ is actually adultist; movement obviously comes first. There would indeed be no action if movement were not present from the first day and before, present and there to be honed and perfected. In learning our bodies and learning to move ourselves by attending to our own movement, we forged an untold number of dynamic patterns that became habitual. Familiar dynamics—tying a knot, brushing one’s teeth, buttering one’s toast, writing one’s name, pulling weeds, sweeping, typing, playing a Bach prelude, and so on—are woven into our bodies and played out along the lines of our bodies. They are kinesthetic/kinetic melodies in both a neurological and experiential sense (Luria 1966, 1973). When we turn attention to these familiar dynamics, to our own coordination dynamics (Kelso 1995; Kelso and Engstrøm 2006), we recognize kinesthetic melodies; they bear the stamp of our own qualitatively felt movement patterns, our own familiar synergies of meaningful movement (Sheets-Johnstone 2009a, b). p.249-50
  • In short, if we ask where the ‘‘skilled-ego,’’ the ‘‘practical subject,’’ and our ‘‘I cans’’ come from, there can be no doubt but that they come from primal animation and its spontaneous experienced existential reality: ‘‘I move.’’ Indeed, ‘‘movement forms the I that moves before the I that moves forms movement’’ (Sheets-Johnstone 2011a, p. 119). p.250
  • ‘‘Nature is a principle of motion and change. […] We must therefore see that we understand what motion is; for if it were unknown, nature too would be unknown’’ (Aristotle, Physics 200b:12–14). p.251
  • On the contrary, they are informed or in the process of being informed by nonlinguistic corporeal concepts from fetal development onward. When lips open and close at eleven weeks, a fetus can feel their movement and hence begin to distinguish open and closed. Such experiences of the felt tactile-kinesthetic body are the bedrock of corporeal concepts and undergird later linguistic formulations. Moreover, postnatally an infant determines how tightly it must clasp a particular block or glass so that it does not drop, and hence develops a concept of weight—the heaviness or lightness of things–and a correlated concept of effort, how it must modulate the tensional quality of its movement to accommodate a particular weight. Furthermore, in nursing or being bottle-fed, an infant feels the softness and pliability of a nipple, and by its tongue movements, feels the hardness of its gums, the moistness of its lips, and so on. At a later age, it discovers the kinesthetically felt temporal and energic difference between pushing a toy away and flinging it or knocking it away, as well as the kinesthetically felt tensional difference between holding a doll and letting it drop and the kinesthetically felt spatial difference between reaching for a toy that is close and one that is further away. Just such discriminating experiences are the generative source of corporeal concepts, concepts that themselves are the foundation of concepts later formulated in language (Sheets-Johnstone 1990). Further still, in such experiences as these, infants and young children not only learn their bodies and learn to move themselves; they discover in exacting ways their capacity to make things happen. Such kinesthetic/kinetic discoveries are the cornerstone of their sense of agency. (3 – ‘‘Agency’’ is actually an adultist term that fails to take Husserl’s insight into the origin of ‘‘I cans’’ into account, namely, that ‘‘I move’’ precedes ‘‘I do,’’ and ‘‘I can.’’ Agency as a repertoire of I cans (and na ever-expanding or possibly expanding repertoire of I cans) is basically a matter of ‘‘making things happen’’: I can pull that toy toward me; I can close my mouth, turn my head, and refuse the spoon filled with food that someone is trying to put in my mouth. Moreover from infancy onward, we experience spontaneous dispositions to move: when something is put into one’s mouth, or when one puts something oneself into one’s mouth, one does not just let it sit there.) p.251
  • In sum, our first relation to a surrounding world is in and through movement. p.252
  • I cannot and do not govern what I do not know and I do not come into the world knowing. I come into the world moving and with a capacity to learn, and my first learning consists in learning my body and learning to move myself, learning in ways that promote moving effectively and efficiently in my surrounding world. What undergirds our foundational learning is indeed primal animation, what dynamic systems theorists—specifically, coordination dynamics researchers—term an intrinsic dynamics (Kelso 1995), the intrinsic dynamics of animate organisms. Just as such animation or dynamics undergird our learning our bodies and learning to move ourselves, so they undergird our correlative build-up of kinesthetic learnings into ‘‘I cans’’ with respect to our surrounding world, a world that includes other animate beings and objects, thus in general terms, both other entities that move and entities that are still, entities that, like tables, chairs, towels, and soap, are still unless I or other animate beings move them. In sum, my first relation to the world is kinesthetic/kinetic: I move toward, I turn away, I suck, I kick, I make inchoate reaching movements, and so on. Moreover I babble and cry and discover myself as a sound-maker. Indeed, though etymology decrees otherwise, infants are not prelinguistic; language is post-kinetic (Sheets-Johnstone 2010a, 2011a, b). p.252
  • The living present is a matter of movement, and self-movement is a matter not of sensations but of dynamics. p.252
  • Habitualities are synergies of meaningful movement that precisely flow forth without our having to monitor them in a focused way (Sheets-Johnstone 2009a, 2010b, 2011a, b, 2012a, b).
  • The background or root soil is clearly animation, a kinesthetically-felt body whose familiar movement dynamics are felt as they run off in all comportments, felt not commonly in focal ways but along a conscious gradient of awareness in everyday life. The familiar felt awareness of our movement as we reach for a glass, jog down a path, sit down, or jump up from a chair, is similarly a dynamic kinesthetically felt experience through and through. In each instance, it is indeed a matter not of localized ‘‘kinesthetic sensations’’ but of a familiar whole body kinesthetically experienced dynamic. Accordingly, our vast repertoire of I cans — dynamic patterns of movement or coordination dynamics that we have learned—is not an amalgam of localized movement sensations, even ‘‘so-called ‘movement sensations’’’(Hua XXXI, pp. 13/50), but a repertoire of familiar kinesthetic flows that constitute a particular qualitative spatio-temporal-energic dynamic that we feel as such, a particular qualitative spatio-temporal-energic dynamic that is itself precisely a qualitative variation on a particular theme—reaching, stooping, sitting, and so on–depending on the particular situation or circumstance in which we find ourselves. p.253
  • Without movement, there would be no befores and afters, or in terms of internal time consciousness, no protentions and retentions. Without movement, the world and all in it would be stilled. Indeed, the end of time and spatial stillness are of a piece. p.254
  • In short, movement is integral to time and time is integral to movement. p.254
  • ‘‘During the perception of motion, there takes place, moment by moment, a ‘comprehension-as-now’; constituted therein is the now actual phase of the motion itself. p.254
  • Time and movement are clearly inherently related, even structurally of a piece, but unlike the qualitative dynamics of our own movement, we do not feel time. (6) We feel only movement, our own animation, or we perceive the animation, the qualitative kinetic dynamics, of other bodies. p.255
  • We might ask, then, why what Husserl describes as the flow and streaming present of inner time-consciousness is not recognized as fundamentally descriptive of movement and in fact of the nature of animate life—the very nature of animate organisms. The question is pointedly and critically entailed in taking seriously the fact that ‘‘consciousness of the world […] is in constant motion’’ and that ‘‘we are constantly active on the basis of our passive having of the world.’’ Moreover the moment we delve into just what constitutes ‘‘active,’’ or ‘‘action’’—that is, the moment we begin to question just what these common terms mean and ask ourselves precisely in what they consist—we come face to face with movement, thus inevitably with our understanding of movement or lack thereof, and thus face to face with the ‘‘problem of movement,’’ ‘‘the enigma of motion.’’ p.255
  • (note 7: Distinguishing between proprioception and kinesthesia is as phenomenologically essential as distinguishing between sensations and dynamics. In short, to say that ‘‘I have a proprioceptive sense of whether I am sitting or standing, stretching or contracting my muscles and to claim that ‘‘these postural and positional senses of where and how the body is … are what phenomenologists call a ‘pre-reflective sense of myself as embodied’’’ (Gallagher and Zahavi 2012, p. 155) are a phenomenological overreach in each instance. p.256
  • In particular, the inherent and originary temporality of movement and its developmental habitualities are not a series of ‘‘befores’’ and ‘‘afters’’ in relation to a ‘‘now’’, but precisely and invariantly a ‘‘streaming present,’’ a ‘‘flow,’’ as in reaching for and picking up a toy or glass, throwing or kicking a ball, walking down the street or down the stairs, sawing a piece of wood, and so on. p.257
  • In effect, we can qualitatively vary temporal aspects of our movement because all such aspects are qualitative to begin with and are experienced as such. We see thus that movement creates its own time. By the same token, it creates its own space and force. In effect, movement does not simply take place in space and in time; it creates a certain temporality, spatiality, and force in the very way it flows forth, in the way it ‘‘runs off.’’ p.258
  • In short, when we listen to our ‘‘internal movement consciousness’’, we find a distinctively felt temporal flow or streaming present that is constituted in the very process of its being created. p.258
  • The distinction between kinesthetic and kinetic experiences is absolutely essential both to understandings of the individual nature of kinesthetic experience, and within that individual experience the difference between a felt qualitative dynamic and a perceived quasi-objectified dynamic, and to understandings of the difference between those kinesthetic experiences and kinetic experiences of the movement of others, whether those others are objects such as an airplane or a leaf, or whether they are other individuals, that is, living beings, forms of animate life, animate organisms.
  • To begin with, what I kinesthetically experience in a felt bodily sense is a firsthand — or first-body — felt qualitative dynamic experience of movement itself. I feel the dynamics of my movement, ‘‘my’’ not in the sense of ownership (cf. Gallagher 2005; Gallagher and Zahavi 2012), but in the sense of ‘‘I move,’’ without the ‘‘I’’ being in any way substantively part of the immediate and direct experience, let alone reflectively constructed or inserted into that experience. p.258-59
  • In fact, the moment I put an ‘‘I’’ or an ‘‘ownership’’ into the experience, I am perceiving the movement, not feeling its dynamics pure and simple. p.259
  • the pure and simple dynamics that run off in kinesthetic experience are commonly familiar dynamics. They undergird our ‘‘elusively flowing life’’ in a way akin to a sub-melodic presence. (11) They are indeed most commonly synergies of meaningful movement, synergies so familiar they run off without direct attention. Yet any time we care to pay attention to them, there they are, which is to say we pre-reflectively feel their unfolding dynamics (Sheets-Johnstone 2011a, 2012c).
  • What I kinesthetically experience in a perceived bodily sense are not uncommonly the spatio-temporal-energic realities of self-movement in terms of their ‘‘out-thereness,’’ realities in space and in time, such as the precise arc through which I am now moving my arm in perfecting my tennis serve and the exact timing of my throwing the ball in the air in relation to that arc, and energetic realities such as the degree of force I am now exerting in executing the serving movement and in throwing the ball in the air. As might be apparent, perceiving one’s movement kinesthetically is common when one is learning a new skill or perfecting its execution. Perceptual awarenesses of one’s movement, however, are evident too in those instances when one decides to change the manner in which one is moving, as, for example, when one decides to slow down or to move more energetically. p.259
  • I am not moving through a form; the form is moving through me. p.260
  • Perceptual awarenesses of movement exist not only in various circumstances pertaining to one’s own movement alone but in the broader context of oneself among others, i.e., oneself in a social and objective surrounding world. These perceptual awarenesses are commonly if not regularly geared toward tempering one’s movement to accord (as Husserl might well say) ‘‘harmoniously’’ with the ‘‘thereness’’ of objects and persons in that world, whether those persons and objects are moving or still. p.260
  • What may indeed be properly described as moving in concert with others in an everyday sense—and in an aesthetic sense as well, as in performing in an orchestral concert, an opera, a dance concert, or a theater play—rests on our pre-reflective awareness of the foundational qualitative dynamics of movement and their variational possibilities, in more precise terms, on the inherent tensional, linear, areal, and projectional qualities of movement, any movement, our own or that of others (see Sheets- Johnstone 1966/1979, 1980, Sheets-Johnstone 1999/2011). Attention to these foundational dynamics and in particular a brief specification of their qualitative nature are requisite prior to exemplifying the phenomenon of moving in concert with others. p.260
  • More than this, any particular movement has a certain spatial and energic quality as well, thus a certain overall kinetic dynamic that can be analyzed phenomenologically in terms of its intensity, directional thrust, amplitude, and the manner in which it unfolds. In other words, any movement can be analyzed in detail in terms of its tensional, linear, areal, and projectional qualities. p.260
  • While we may possibly note the degree to which a person moves to the side of a tight and narrow path as we near each other, for example, we are not so much gauging the person’s movement quantitatively as we are engaged in the dynamic flow of his or her movement, its qualitative dispositions, propensities, inclinations, and transitions that move him or her toward the side. This qualitative form of engagement is present in our interpersonal relations with infants and young children, relations that are fundamentally not just animated but dynamically interanimate in qualitativelyinflected ways. p.262
  • In his descriptions of affect attunement, infant psychiatrist and clinical psychologist Daniel N. Stern has written meticulously of these interanimate dynamics (Stern 1985). His descriptions unequivocally if implicitly validate the fact that movement is our mother tongue, a tongue that allows us from the very beginning to communicate nonlinguistically by way of the qualitative dynamics of movement. We might further note that a qualitative engagement is clearly dominant in personal aesthetic performances in music, dance, and theater where, as mentioned earlier, one is attentive both to the perceived qualitative kinetic dynamics of the music, the dance, or the movement of other actors and to one’s own kinesthetically felt qualitative dynamics. p.262
  • When we focus attention directly on our natural kinetic awareness of movement in our surrounding world—whoever or whatever the moving others in that world — we necessarily experience a dynamic world in which the foundational qualitative dynamics of movement are of singular moment. Their fundamental spatio-temporalenergic nature is indeed at the heart of our experience, both kinesthetically and kinetically. It is because we are gifted with this dual awareness of movement that we are able to move in harmony with others. We have a common language that we commonly speak quite fluently. In effect, because we perceive the kinetic qualitative dynamics of other persons and kinesthetically feel the qualitative dynamics of our own movement, we are able to move in concert with others. p.262
  • Movement is similarly integral to tactility whenever or wherever it is a question of moving in concert, thus not only in lifts in the context of a dance, for example, but in love-making and in riding a horse. In all such tactile instances of moving in concert, one’s own movement and the movement of another being unfold in dynamic harmony with one another, and this because both oneself and the other are mutually attuned to the tactile-kinesthetic and tactile-kinetic dynamics of movement. p.263
  • The import of recognizing the foundational qualitative dynamics of movement, whatever the movement might be and whoever the moving individuals might be, of recognizing the fundamental difference between kinesthetic and kinetic experiences of those dynamics, and of recognizing the sensu communis nature of movement with respect to moving in concert—all are of particular note with respect to terms such as ‘‘interkinesthesia (Behnke 2008),’’ ‘‘enkinesthesia’’ (Stuart 2012), and ‘‘kinesthetic exchanges’’ (Rothfield 2005). Phenomenologically and empirically there are no such phenomena; the terms are misguided neologisms or labels. Although kinesthesia is a pan-human sensory modality and one that in fact cannot be suppressed (Jeannerod 2006), kinesthesia is a wholly individual experiential modality. p.263
  • The basis of these shared experiences warrants specification, which is to say that what makes movement a sensu communis warrants fine-grained phenomenological examination. Such examination shows that moving in concert is not just a natural interpersonal movement phenomenon, but one in which the visually perceived movement of another conjoins with one’s kinesthetically felt movement. p.263
  • Moving in concert with others is thus clearly a phenomenon that is both kinetic and kinesthetic and in which what is kinesthetic may be perceived as well as felt. p.264
  • In sum, both the kinesthetic and kinetic dynamic realities and possibilities of movement are integral to moving in concert with other beings. One might almost be tempted to say that the harmony of the world hangs in the balance. (12 – It might be noted that appeals to tactility in particular on behalf of grounding intersubjectivity in the exteriority of one’s own body overlook completely the phenomenological realities of movement (e.g., Zahavi 1999, p.169). Kinesthetic perceptions are notably three-dimensional, not only as when one is learning to walk and to throw efficiently but as when one is learning to make surgical incisions and to drive. Kinesthetic perception is equally integral to understanding foundational forms of ‘‘bodily awareness’’ that ground ‘‘our ability to encounter an Other with an internal manifestation of alterity’’ (1999, p. 169). It is indeed unnecessary to opine that ‘‘When my left hand touches my right, I am experiencing myself in a manner that anticipates both the way in which an Other would experience me and the way in which I would experience an Other’’ (1999, p. 169). In short, when movement is consistently passed over by tactility and examples of touching (e.g., 1999, p. 105), a kind of functionalism obtains, a functionalism that in the end instrumentalizes the body and conceals its kinesthetic melodies (Luria 1966, 1973), obliterating the qualitative dynamics that undergird, structure, and sustain its movement.) p.264
  • The world one puts together is in conjunction with the body one is—the body one has learned and learned to move. The two go together. In effect, that ‘‘I govern’’ at all is only because I have learned my body and learned to move myself in effective and efficient ways. p.264
  • ‘‘being-in-movement’’ (Bewegtheit) ‘‘cannot be understood in terms of motion as change of place’’ (Husserl 1997, p. 413. p.265
  • Were it not for our being animate organisms, for being bodies (not merely having bodies), we would obviously be inanimate if not stillborn. Bodies are not just little go-carts for minds any more than brains are ready-made oracles at Delphi (the place to go for solutions to any puzzle about humans). All the original putting together from egg and sperm onward eventuates in mindful bodies capable of creating synergies of meaningful movement on their own behalf and on behalf of their progeny. The qualitative dynamics of movement are the basis of their forming synergies of meaningful movement. In the everyday world, these synergies commonly run off without focused attention, but only because they are inscribed in kinesthetic memory and run off on the basis of that memory (Sheets-Johnstone 2003, 2009b, Chap. X, 2012d). In contrast, we are aware when a synergy of meaningful movement ‘‘goes wrong’’ because we have a pre-reflective awareness of its familiar dynamics, familiar dynamics that we once learned and that are no longer present. What these experiential realities show is that consciousness is not a onedimensional faculty but runs along a gradient of awarenesses. Habitualities that run off with pre-reflective attention were originally learned patterns of movement — patterns such as tying a shoelace, buttoning a shirt, and so on—and moreover not simply learned patterns of movement in relation to objects in the world, but learned patterns of movement tout court, such as turning over in one’s crib, reaching and grasping, walking, running, skipping, throwing, and even speaking. Consciousness is indeed ‘‘in constant motion’’ as a whole-body, tactile-kinesthetically-grounded phenomenon linked foundationally and essentially to our ‘‘being-in-movement,’’ which is to say to our being animate organisms. p.266

HAGENDOORN (2003) – Cognitive dance improvisation


HAGENDOORN, Ivar. Cognitive dance improvisation: how study of the motor system can inspire dance (and vice versa). LEONARDO, v.36, n.3, p.221–227, 2003.

ABSTRACT: This paper describes several dance improvisation techniques inspired by the study of the motor system. One technique takes experiments on interlimb coordination from the laboratory to the dance studio. Another technique, termed fixed-point technique, makes use of the fact that one can change which part of the body is fixed in space. A third technique is based on the idea that one can maintain the action, as it were, by “reversing the acting limb.” All techniques target a specific capacity of the motor system and as such may inspire new psychophysical experiments. The present approach to generating movements, which merges dance improvisation with insights from cognitive neuroscience and biokinesiology, may also be fruitfully extended to robotics.

  • A dance performance can be seen as a journey through the state space of all possible movements. In a  choreography the dancer, who acts as a guide to the audience on this journey, has to follow the path set out by a choreographer, who has mapped out an itinerary in advance. In dance improvisation, by contrast, the journey is created on the spot, which is what makes improvisation interesting to both dancer(s) and audience. p.221
  • Improvisation introduces an additional problem, as the dancers have to make their decisions on the fly. The moment they have made up their minds, they are confronted by the same problem all over again. Dancers thus face two conflicting challenges. On the one hand they have to structure their movements so as to create an interesting performance, while on the other hand they have to avoid “getting stuck” in the same patterns of movements. p.222
  • Habits are unconscious and can therefore get in the way of desired movements. As a matter of brain processing, habits are computationally efficient. An action can unfold without requiring every individual step to be worked out in advance. It is therefore not surprising that, when improvising, dancers also tend unconsciously to repeat certain movements. p.222
  • Instead of applying constraints, one can also design rules or techniques for generating a particular type of movement. An improvisation technique should be generic in that it can apply to different body configurations and movements. It should also be specific in that it offers a cognitive shortcut to describing a particular class or subset of (the space of all possible) movements. p.222
  • In my own work, I look for sources of movement strategies in the way that movements are processed by the brain. The idea is that, when made explicit, the implicit properties of the motor system can be put under conscious control. And because these properties are hardwired in the brain, they may be easily generalized and extended to other movements or body configurations. For instance, a default property of the motor system can be seen as a specific instance of a range of movements, while a solution to a particular behavioral problem can be generalized to other situations. p.222
  • A number of my improvisation techniques relate to the representation of space. The brain does not accommodate a single, uniform representation of space, but a multiplicity of sensory and motor spaces subserving perception and action [10. M.A. Arbib, “Interactions of Multiple Representations of Space in the Brain,” in J. Paillard, ed., Brain and Space (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991) pp. 379–403] To construct a representation of space, the brain builds on information delivered by the senses. p.222
  • In order for one to reach for an object, say, an apple, visual information about its location and information about the position and orientation of the body have to be combined with information about the position of the hand relative to the apple, its estimated size and weight and the use to which it will be put [11]. p.222
  • The first thing to observe is that we can fix an intrinsic relationship between two or more parts of the body and maintain that relationship as we move across extrinsic space [14]. For instance, we can stretch an arm and walk around, squat, lie down on the floor, etc., while keeping the arm stretched—that is, while maintaining the intrinsic relationship between arm and chest. p.223
  • In motor control experiments, the emphasis is on measuring the interference during the repetitive performance of two trajectories. What is most interesting from the perspective of dance improvisation, however, is switching between two modes: e.g. changing from small clockwise circular movements with the right foot and both hands to a large counterclockwise circle with one arm and small lines with the other hand and foot. p.225
  • A motor schema is an abstract representation of a prototypical movement sequence such as a tennis serve or an arabesque. It refers to the pattern or the structure of a movement sequence rather than giving a full description of its dynamics. An arabesque remains an arabesque whether it is performed slowly or quickly, with grace or with vigor. A motor schema can be either simple or complex, which is what makes it such an attractive concept. Schemas are recursive in that they can be decomposed into smaller schemas down to the level of their neural foundation or alternatively embedded in or combined with other schemas to form a new higherorder schema. It follows that new schemas evolve as instances of existing schemas or, in the words of neuroscientist and computer scientist Michael Arbib, “They start as composite, emerge as primitive schemas” [Arbib, 1991]. p.225

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SHEETS-JOHNSTONE (2010) – Body and movement: basic dynamic principles


SHEETS-JOHNSTONE, Maxine. Body and movement: basic dynamic principles. In: SCHMICKING, Daniel. GALLAGHER, Shaun. (eds.), Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science, Springer Science & Business Media B.V. 2010, 688 p.


  • Embodiment is to the body as enaction is to movement. p.217
  • The lack of fit and missing reality are furthermore attested to by the terms in which proprioception is discussed and the fact that a clear-cut distinction and substantive understanding of the difference between proprioception and kinesthesia is nowhere in evidence. p.217
  • Properly speaking, proprioception is a matter of all manner of bodily organs that sense movement and deformations, a primordial form of animate awareness that began its evolutionary career in surface recognition sensitivity – tactility in the service of movement – that evolved into different external sensors registering movement – chordotonal organs, hair plates, sensilla, cilia, and so on – and that, with the advent of internal bodily organs sensing movement through muscular effort, evolved into kinesthesia (Mill 1976; Laverack 1976; Wright 1976; Dorsett 1976; see Sheets-Johnstone 1999 for a close examination and study of the data). As is evident, proprioception is the broader term with respect to kinesthesia. It refers to a sense of movement and position that includes tactility and gravitational orientation through vestibular sensory organs as well as kinesthesia. As its etymology indicates, kinesthesia in its primary, that is, experiential, sense denotes an awareness of movement, hence an awareness of dynamics, hence an awareness of a qualitatively felt kinetic flow.  p.218
  • Understandings of body and movement that are grounded in the natural history of  animate life begin with proprioception, with the beginning dynamics of life itself in surface recognition sensitivity, and thereby proceed naturally to understandings that encompass kinesthesia, affectivity, cognition, and the world, including a world of others. They encompass these aspects naturally because animation – the dynamics of life itself – naturally engenders kinesthesia, affectivity, cognition, and the world. Movement is in other words at the heart not only of being alive but of staying alive. In an existential as well as evolutionary sense, survival is a matter of effective movement, which means movement that is affectively and cognitively responsive to an ever-changing world that is not the same from 1 day to the next and that demands attentiveness in precisely the way an ant, a spider, a fly, or a human is attentive, not only to the expected and familiar, but to the unexpected or the unfamiliar, the ant, spider, fly, or human recognizing that what is out of the ordinary may perhaps be harmful. p.218
  • Husserl wrote of action, but he did  not write of active or enactive organisms; he wrote of bodies, but he did not write of embodied organisms. He wrote of animate organisms. Animation is the ground floor, the ontological as well as epistemological bedrock of human self-understandings and indeed of human pan-animate understandings, understandings that include but do not separate out cognition as the point of entry to those understandings. p.219
  • In a – word, it requires attention not to embodiment, but to animation, for it is in and through animation that we realize ourselves as living beings. We do not come into the world embodied. We come into the world moving; we are precisely not stillborn. We are indeed animated in basic ways concordant with other forms of animate life, forms whose daily rituals also include eating, sleeping, and mating, and whose affective relations with others and whose cognitive acuities are also central to their well-being. p.219
  • Members of the Animal Kingdom are indeed animate organisms in the full sense of animation, being attuned affectively, cognitively, and kinetically to the world around them. Once cognition is rightly recognized as being both an inherent and integral dimension of the fundamental reality of being alive and moving about effectively, efficiently, and intelligently in the world, there is no doubt that the word animation properly describes the bodily nature of cognition. (4) p.220
  • D.H. Lawrence once wrote (Lawrence 1932, p. 200) – and to be alive is first of all to be animate. Even in sleep, we not only move in breathing, but we roll over, bend a knee, extend an arm overhead, stretch a leg, pull the covers up or fling them off. We in fact not only come into the world moving but we go out of the world unmoving: we are no longer animate in the least part; we are precisely still. p.221
  • To term something ‘embodied’ is akin to anointing it with an ontological salve. The salve putatively binds together mind and body, “the physical” and “the lived,” or a first- as opposed to a thirdperson perspective on humanness. The term itself oftentimes appears gratuitous because the very phenomenon it modifies – for example, agent, action, experience – is already a corporeal-kinetic reality. Indeed, it appears at times tautological: it is as if the body is “embodied.” Moreover when we put all features of life that are “embodied” together, we fall far short of an elucidation of human life, and in fact can end up with a meaningless formal declaration on the order of: “embodied agents, through their embodied sensory-motor systems and in their embodied practices, have embodied experiences that they can speak of from an embodied first-person perspective grounded in an embodied subjectivity and an embodied self-consciousness.” p.221
  • This shift involves a shift toward thinking in movement (Sheets-Johnstone 1999, Body and Movement: Basic Dynamic Principles), a consistent everyday dimension of animation from infancy onward, not only in reaching and grasping something at hand or in weaving one’s way amidst a throng of people on a crowded sidewalk, but in calculating the distance and time to drive from one place to another or in judging the force necessary to splitting a piece of wood. Everyday human experience involves thinking in movement; the everyday experience of animate forms involves thinking in movement. Our capacity to think in movement is rooted in fundamental human concepts of space, time, and energy or force, all of which are rooted in the experience of movement itself, that is, in kinesthesia. p.222
  • A phenomenological investigation of movement discloses qualitative dimensions of movement that testify to movement being a dynamic phenomenon, and being a dynamic phenomenon, it is: (1) falsely defined as a change of position, (2) falsely specified in terms of sensations, and (3) inaccurately described as simply taking place in space and in time. A brief summary of each quality will attest to the falsity and inaccuracy of the above notions and to the complexity of movement. It should be noted that the phenomenologically-disclosed qualities are separable only analytically; that is, they are always integral parts of a whole kinetic dynamic. p.222
  • In sum, it is evident that (1) movement is not a change of position, but the dynamic reality of the kinetic change itself; (2) movement is a matter not of sensations but of a felt qualitative dynamic whose spatial, temporal, and force aspects are the spawning ground of fundamental human concepts; (3) any movement creates its own time, space, and force, and thereby its own particular dynamic. p.225
  • A flow of movement may be accentuated in various ways by shifting intensities or by shifts in direction, for example, or be qualitatively inflected in other ways as indicated above, but the flow is nonetheless coherent, precisely as when one picks up an apple, brings it to one’s mouth, opens one’s mouth, and bites into it. In a word, the differentially accented and directed flow – kinesthetically felt movement – is all of a piece and is experientially and neurologically so constituted. p.225
  • In short, when we turn attention to habitual movement patterns, we recognize our own kinetic melodies, indeed, our own kinesthetic melodies (Luria 1966, 1973); they bear the recognizable stamp of our own qualitatively felt movement patterns, our own familiar coordination dynamics. p.226
  • It is in and through movement that infants and young children discover aspects of themselves and of the world about them, aspects that do not disappear with age but that continue to inform their lives from beginning to end. Adult humans in various academic disciplines neglect movement and kinesthesia and indeed overlook having initially and originally learned their bodies and learned to move themselves. Their neglect and oversight are not rectified nor rectifiable by the term “embodiment” and its derivatives, and this because the coordination dynamics that develop in infancy and that perdure as foundational building blocks throughout our lives testify not to ‘embodiment’ but to animation, primal animation, and, in a complementary way to what prolific researcher and writer on coordination dynamics J.A. Scott Kelso aptly describes an “intrinsic dynamics”, a dynamics grounded in the self-organizational patterns of living beings (Kelso 1995). Primal animation and an intrinsic dynamics infuse our being and define our aliveness; they are our point of departure for living in the world and making sense of it. An adultist stance overlooks these animate beginnings, these initial ventures into and explorations of movement. It overlooks as well the complex and subtle ways in which these literally animate beginnings were – and still are – integrally and inherently entwined with cognition and affect. p.226
  • An investigation of our own habits teaches us about these animate beginnings; it teaches us about movement and kinesthesia directly, about how affects motivate and inform our movement, and about the built-in cognitive structures of movement. It teaches us how the particular coordination dynamics we articulate in walking, for example, are the result of the composite qualities of movement that we instantiate when we walk: it teaches us the basic fact that any movement creates its own space, time, and force, and thus a particular felt qualitative dynamic. p.226
  • In sum, the “limitations” of voluntary movement are sizable freedoms, precisely as Bernstein showed. Because they are, learning our bodies and learning to move ourselves are not necessarily learnings restricted to infancy. p.227
  • Clearly, members of the animal kingdom survive, if they do survive, not just because they are adept physically, but because they are consciously adept across a spectrum of faculties, precisely as Darwin indicates: they are affectively and cognitively attuned to their surrounds. They are animate in the full sense of being affectively and cognitively alive to themselves and to their surrounding world. p.228
  • (note: 10) We might note that agency is empirically linked not to an ontological entity called a self but toan epistemological subject in the form of animation and kinesthesia. p.228
  • Infant imitation is exemplary of a host of topics in phenomenology and cognitive science that are in actuality grounded in the affective-cognitive-kinetic dynamics of animation. Shifting concern to this ground requires a shift in thinking – a paradigm shift in Thomas Kuhn’s words. It requires thinking directly, intently, and unwaveringly along the lines of the body, reflecting at length on the aliveness of living bodies and all that that aliveness by its very nature encompasses in the way of movement, feeling, and cognition, all in an experiential sense. In imitating na adult’s mouth gestures, a newborn infant is learning its body and learning to move itself. It engages in a “kinetic-kinesthetic dynamic matching” (Sheets-Johnstone 1999, p. 261), a transfer of sense from the visual body of another to its own tactile-kinesthetic body, discovering the dynamic possibilities and actualities of its own moving body in the process. p.230

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LUTZ & THOMPSON (2003) – Neurophenomenology


LUTZ, Antoine. THOMPSON, Evan. Neurophenomenology: Integrating Subjective Experience and Brain Dynamics in the Neuroscience of ConsciousnessJournal of Consciousness Studies, v.10, N.9–10, p.31–52, 2003.


Abstract: The paper presents a research programme for the neuroscience of consciousness called ‘neurophenomenology’ (Varela 1996) and illustrates it with a recent pilot study (Lutz et al., 2002). At a theoretical level, neurophenomenology pursues an embodied and large-scale dynamical approach to the neurophysiology of consciousness (Varela 1995; Thompson and Varela 2001; Varela and Thompson 2003). At a methodological level, the neurophenomenological strategy is to make rigorous and extensive use of first-person data about subjective experience as a heuristic to describe and quantify the large-scale neurodynamics of consciousness (Lutz 2002). The paper foocuses on neurophenomenology in relation to three challenging methodological issues about incorporating first-person data into cognitive neuroscience: (i) first-person reports can be biased or inaccurate; (ii) the process of generating first-person reports about an experience can modify that experience; and (iii) there is an ‘explanatory gap’ in our understanding of how to relate first-Person, phenomenological data to third-person, biobehavioural data.



  • there is the challenge of the so-called ‘explanatory gap’ in our understanding of how to relate (conceptually, methodologically and epistemologically) the first-person domain of subjective experience to the third-person domain of brain, body and behaviour (see Roy et al., 1999). P.32
  • Neurophenomenology stresses theimportance of gathering first-person data from phenomenologically trained subjects as a heuristic strategy for describing and quantifying the physiological processes relevant to consciousness. p.32
  • Thus one central aim of neurophenomenology is to generate new data by incorporating refined and rigorous phenomenological explorations of experience into the experimental protocols of cognitive neuroscientific research on consciousness.
  • Phenomenology in this broad sense can be understood as the project of providing a disciplined characterization of the phenomenal invariants of lived experience in all of its multifarious forms. By ‘lived experience’ we mean experiences as they are lived and verbally articulated in the first-person, whether it be lived experiences of perception, action, memory, mental imagery, emotion, attention, empathy, self-consciousness, contemplative states, dreaming, and so forth. p.32
  • Of central importance to neurophenomenology is the employment of firstperson phenomenological methods in order to obtain original and refined firstperson data. It seems true both that people vary in their abilities as observers and reporters of their own experiences, and that these abilities can be enhanced through various phenomenological methods. ‘First-person methods’ are disciplined practices subjects can use to increase their sensitivity to their own experiences at various time-scales (Varela and Shear, 1999; Depraz et al., 2003). These practices involve the systematic training of attention and self-regulation of emotion (see Section III). Such practices exist in phenomenology, psychotherapy and contemplative meditative traditions. Using these methods, subjects may be able to gain access to aspects of their experience (such as transient affective state or quality of attention) that otherwise would remain unnoticed and unavailable for verbal report. p.33
  • neurophenomenology is guided by the ‘embodied’ approach to cognition (Varela et al., 1991; Clark, 1997), which in its ‘enactive’ or ‘radical embodiment’ version holds that mental processes, including consciousness, are distributed phenomena of the whole active organism (not just the brain) embedded in its environment (Thompson and Varela, 2001, forthcoming; Varela and Thompson, 2003). p.34
  • In summary, neurophenomenology is based on the synergistic use of three fields of knowledge:
  • 1. (NPh1) First-person data from the careful examination of experience with specific first-person methods.
  • 2. (NPh2) Formal models and analytical tools from dynamical systems theory, grounded on an embodied-enactive approach to cognition.
  • 3. (NPh3) Neurophysiological data from measurements of large-scale, integrative processes in the brain.


  • (3)  Transitive consciousness versus intransitive consciousness: Object-directed  consciousness (consciousness-of), versus non-object-directed consciousness (Rosenthal, 1997).
  • (7) Pre-reflective self-consciousness: Primitive self-consciousness; self-referential awareness of subjective experience that does not require active reflection or introspection (Wider, 1997; Williams, 1998; Gupta, 1998; Zahavi, 1999). p.35
  • Central to this tradition, and to certain Asian phenomenologies (Gupta, 1998;Williams, 1998), are the notions of intentionality (which is related to (3) above) and pre-reflective self-consciousness (7). Pre-reflective selfconsciousness is a primitive form of self-awareness believed to belong inherently to any conscious experience: Any experience, in addition to intending (referring to) its intentional object (transitive consciousness), is reflexively manifest to itself (intransitive consciousness).1 Such self-manifesting awareness is a primitive form of self-consciousness in the sense that (i) it does not require any subsequent act of reflection or introspection but occurs simultaneously with awareness of the object; (ii) does not consist in forming a belief or making a judgment; and (iii) is ‘passive’ in the sense of being spontaneous and involuntary (see Zahavi and Parnas, 1998). A distinction is thus drawn between the ‘noetic’ process of experiencing, and the ‘noematic’ object or content of experience. Experience involves not simply awareness of its object (noema), but tacit awareness of itself as process (noesis). For instance, when one consciously sees an object, one is also at the same time aware — intransitively, pre-reflectively and passively — of one’s seeing; when one visualizes a mental image, one is thus aware also of one’s visualizing. This tacit self-awareness has often been explicated as involving a form of non-objective bodily self-awareness — a reflexive awareness of one’s ‘lived body’ (Leib) or embodied subjectivity correlative to experience of the object (Merleau-Ponty, 1962; Wider, 1997; Zahavi, 2002). Hence from a neurophenomenological perspective, any convincing theory of consciousness must account for this pre-reflective experience of embodied subjectivity, in addition to the object-related contents of consciousness (Varela et al., 1991; Thompson and Varela, 2001; Zahavi, 2002). p.35-36
  • Neurophenomenology thus corroborates the view, articulated by Panksepp (1998a,b) and Damasio (1999; Parvizi and Damasio, 2001), that neuroscience needs to explain both ‘how the brain engenders the mental patterns we experience as the images of an object’ (the noema in Phenomenological terms), and ‘how, in parallel . . . the brain also creates a sense of self in the act of knowing . . . how each of us has a sense of “me” . . . howwe sense that the images in our minds are shaped in our particular perspective and belong to our individual organism’ (Parvizi & Damasio, 2001, pp. 136–7). In Phenomenological terms, this second issue concerns the noetic side of consciousness, in particular the noetic aspect of ‘ipseity’ or the minimal subjective sense of ‘I-ness’ in experience, which is constitutive of a ‘minimal’ or ‘core self’, as contrasted with a ‘narrative’ or ‘autobiographical self’ (Gallagher, 2000). As a number of cognitive scientists have emphasized, this primitive self-consciousness is fundamentally linked to bodily processes of life regulation, emotion and affect, such that all cognition and intentional action are emotive (Panksepp, 1998a, 1998b; Damasio, 1999;Watt, 1999; Freeman, 2000; Parvizi and Damasio, 2001), a theme central to Phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty, 1962; Jonas, 1966; Husserl, 2001). p.36
  • According to Phenomenology, ‘lived experience’ comprises pre-verbal, pre-reflective and affectively valenced mental states (events, processes), which, while not immediately available or accessible to thought, introspection and verbal report, are intransitively ‘lived through’ subjectively, and thus have an experiential or phenomenal character. Such states, however, are (i) necessarily primitively self-aware, otherwise they do not qualify as conscious (in any sense); and (ii) because of their being thus self-aware, are access conscious in principle, in that they are the kind of states that can become available to thought, reflective awareness, introspection and verbal report, especially through first-person methods P.36
  • First-person methods are disciplined practices subjects can use to increase their sensitivity to their own experience from moment to moment (Varela and Shear, 1999). They involve systematic training of attention and emotional selfregulation. Such methods exist in Phenomenology (Depraz, 1999), psychotherapy (Gendlin, 1981; Epstein, 1996), and contemplative meditative traditions (Wallace, 1999). Some are routinely used in clinical and health programmmes (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1985), and physiological correlates and effects of these practices have been investigated (Austin, 1998; Davidson et al., 2003). The relevance of these practices to neurophenomenology derives from the capacity for attentive self-awareness they systematically cultivate. This capacity enables tacit, preverbal and pre-reflective aspects of subjective experience — which otherwise would remain simply ‘lived through’ — to become subjectively accessible and describable, and thus available for intersubjective and objective (biobehavioural) characterization. p.37
  • The epoché mobilizes and intensifies the tacit self-awareness of experience by inducing an explicit attitude of attentive self-awareness. The epoché has three intertwining phases that form a dynamic cycle (Depraz et al., 2000):
  1. Suspension
  2. Redirection
  3. Receptivity
  • The first phase induces a transient suspension of beliefs or habitual thoughts about what is experienced. The aim is to ‘bracket’ explanatory belief-constructs in order to adopt an open and unprejudiced descriptive attitude. This attitude is an important prerequisite for gaining access to experience as it is lived prereflectively. The second phase of redirection proceeds on this basis: Given na attitude of suspension, the subject’s attention can be redirected from its habitual immersion in the experienced object (the noema) towards the lived qualities of the experiencing process (the noetic act and its ‘pre-personal’ or ‘pre-noetic’ sources in the lived body). During the epoché, an attitude of receptivity or ‘letting go’ is also encouraged, in order to broaden the field of experience to new horizons, towards which attention can be turned. p.37
  • This explication of the procedural steps of the epoché represents an attempt to fill a lacuna of Phenomenology, which has often emphasized theoretical analysis and description, to the neglect of the pragmatics of the epoché as an embodied and situated act (Depraz, 1999). P.38
  • According to the Phenomenological way of thinking, in ordinary life we are caught up in the world and our various belief-constructs and theories about it. Phenomenologists call this unreflective stance the ‘natural attitude’. The epoché aims to ‘bracket’ these assumptions and belief-constructs and thereby induce na open phenomenological attitude towards direct experience (‘the things themselves’). The adoption of a properly phenomenological attitude is an important methodological prerequisite for exploring original constitutive structures and categories of experience, such as egocentric space, temporality and the subjectobject duality, or spontaneous affective and associative features of the temporal flow of experience rooted in the lived body (for an overview of these topics, see Bernet et al., 1993). P.38
  • Neurophenomenology asserts that first-person methods are necessary to gather refined first-person data, but not that subjects are infallible about their own mental lives, nor that the experimentalist cannot maintain an attitude of critical neutrality. First-person methods do not confer infallibility upon subjects who use them, but they do enable subjects to thematize important but otherwise tacit aspects of their experience. p.39
  • Anyone who has acquired a new cognitive skill (such as stereoscopic fusion, wine-tasting, or a second language) can attest that experience is not fixed, but dynamic and plastic. First-person methods help to stabilize phenomenal aspects of this plasticity so that they can be translated into descriptive first-person reports. p.39 In the case of dance improvisation the movements themselves are the first-person report
  • Frith, following Jack and Roepstorff (2002), also comments that ‘sharing experiences requires the adoption of a second-person perspective in which a common frame of reference can be negotiated’ (Frith, 2002). First-person methods help to establish such a reference frame by incorporating the mediating ‘- second-person’ position of a trainer or coach. P.39-40
  • Both animal and human studies demonstrate that specific changes in    neural synchrony occur during arousal, sensorimotor integration, attentional selection, perception and working memory, which are all crucial for consciousness (for reviews and discussion, see Varela, 1995; Tononi and Edelman, 1998; Dehaene and Naccache, 2001; Engel and Singer, 2001; Engel et al., 2001; Varela et al., 2001). P.41
  • In addition, neurophenomenology favours an embodied approach to neural dynamics: The neurodynamic pole underlying the emergence and flow of cognitive-phenomenal states needs to be understood as necessarily embedded in the somatic contexts of the organism as a whole (the lived body in  Phenomenological terms), as well as the environment (Thompson and Varela, 2001). In the case of human consciousness, the neurodynamic pole needs to be understood as necessarily embedded in at least three ‘cycles of operation’ constitutive of human life: (i) cycles of organismic regulation of the entire body; (ii) cycles of sensorimotor coupling between organism and environment; (iii) cycles of intersubjective interaction (for further discussion, see Thompson and Varela, 2001; Varela and Thompson, 2003). P.41
  • Such joint collection and analysis of first-person and third-person data instantiates methodologically the neurophenomenological hypothesis that cognitive  neuroscience and phenomenology can be related to each other through reciprocal constraints (Varela, 1996). The long-term aim is to produce phenomenological accounts of real-time subjective experience that are sufficiently precise and complete to be expressed in formal and predictive dynamical terms, which in turn could be expressed as specific neurodynamical properties of brain activity. Such twofold dynamical descriptions of consciousness could provide a robust and predictive way to link reciprocally the experiential and neuronal realms. p.42
  • This paper began by delineating three challenges faced by the attempt to integrate first-person data into the experimental protocols of cognitive neuroscience: (1) first-person reports can be biased or inaccurate; (2) introspective acts can modify their target experiences; and (3) there remains an ‘explanatory gap’ in  our understanding of how to relate subjective experience to physiological and behavioural processes. p.46-47
  • There is not  necessarily any inconsistency between altering or transforming experience (in the way envisaged) and gaining insight into experience through such transformation. If there were, then one would have to conclude that no process of cognitive or emotional development can provide insight into experience before the period of such development. Such a view is extreme and unreasonable. The problem with the objection is its assumption that experience is a static given, rather than dynamic, plastic and developmental. Indeed, it is hard to see how the objection could even be formulated without presupposing that experience is a fixed, predelineated domain, related only externally to the process of becoming aware, such that this process would have to supervene from outside, instead of being motivated by and called forth from within experience itself. First-person methods are not supposed to be a way of accessing such a (mythical) domain; they are supposed to be a way of enhancing and stabilizing the self-awareness already immanent in experience, thereby ‘awakening’ experience to itself.5 p.47
  • Neurophenomenology, on the other hand, focuses on the temporal dynamics of the noetic-noematic structure as a whole. p.48
  • As we have proposed throughout this paper, the investigation of such empirical issues depends fundamentally on the ability of subjects to mobilize their insight about their experience and provide descriptive reports in a disciplined way compatible with the intersubjective standards of science. For this task, better procedural descriptions and pragmatics of the process of becoming aware of experience need to be developed (Varela and Shear, 1999; Depraz et al., 2003). p.49

GUERRA (2014) – Cognição incorporada


GUERA, Estevão Monteiro. Cognição incorporada: refletindo sobre a singularidade da condição sensório-motora no desenvolvimento humano. Ciências da Cognição, v.19, n.2, p.193-216, 2014.


Resumo: Quando nos referimos ao termo “sensório-motor”, de acordo com a epistemologia genética piagetiana, estamos evocando conceitualmente um arcabouço teórico específico e que compreende fronteiras epistemológicas bem delimitadas. Todavia, sugerimos ampliar conceitualmente a proposta piagetiana em considerar o estágio sensório-motor não só enquanto uma das etapas de construção da cognição, mas na arregimentação permanente da totalidade de nosso ser. Logo, a criança, ao “ultrapassar” esta fase por volta dos dois anos, deixa-a de fato para trás na forma de “organização transcendente” de outros esquemas de ação. Como objetivo central deste Ensaio, proporemos oportunamente algumas reflexões que visam problematizar e ampliar significativamente o termo “sensório-motor” em sua conotação piagetiana, tecendo articulações com a tese de autores que defendem o intrincado processo de uma “cognição incorporada”.

Palavras-chave: epistemologia genética; cognição incorporada; neurociência; singularidade


  • um dos princípios elementares da teoria do caos. Neste contexto, pequenas perturbações, as quais se manifestam em condições iniciais, podem produzir, a partir de múltiplas retroalimentações e bifurcações do sistema, eventos em larga escala. Na atualidade, outra metáfora, apresentada por Edward Lorenz (1996), seria usada com mais frequência: o simples bater de asas de uma borboleta, em algum recanto do planeta, pode produzir catástrofes naturais em algum outro ponto. p.194
  • Ainda não se sabe, em todos os detalhes, como o cérebro consegue transformar padrões neurais em padrões mentais. Mas à semelhança de Damásio (2000), Johnson (1987), Lakoff (1987), Maturana (2001), Rorty (1989), Searle (1995), Varela et al. (2003), concordamos com a tese de que o cérebro não registra ou espelha simplesmente, o mundo externo como uma fotografia tridimensional, mas constrói uma representação interna dos eventos físicos em acordo com experiências sensórias e motoras. Neste contexto, quando elaboramos um conhecimento, estamos construindo um mundo singularizado que surge em parceria com o ambiente. É um mundo que convocamos a ser em nossa experiência interativa com o que está fora, mas não separado de nós. p.194
  • Varela et al. (2003) nos oferecem razoáveis hipóteses de que não devemos mais considerar o funcionamento do sistema nervoso como um processador de informações organizado por um aparato de inputs-outputs. Este sistema, apresentado na década de 60 do século passado por defensores do cognitivismo simbólico, seria mais adequado para explicar o funcionamento de máquinas triviais, como um computador, aos quais recebem estímulos pelo teclado e o mouse (inputs) e se comportam de acordo com o programa executado (output). Sendo assim, os seres humanos, enquanto organizações vivas e, portanto, não triviais, poderiam ser compreendidos por leituras que o considerem enquanto sistemas que funcionam através de uma rede emergente, que opera de acordo com uma clausura operacional e, por isso, gozam de uma autonomia constitutiva. p.195
  • estágio sensório-motor, apresentado por Piaget (1978) em sua epistemologia genética.
  • a) o desenvolvimento cognitivo-afetivo se faz, primeiramente, por meios de ações sensório-motoras, já que os recursos simbólicos irão se desenvolver decorrente da natureza qualitativa desta exploração sensória e motora. Isto lhe dá um status de “base cognitiva-afetiva” e, consequentemente, exercerá a função de alicerce para as futuras etapas que irão se estabelecer neste contínuo processo de transformação de “esquemas de ação”.
  • b) Juntamente com o período de desenvolvimento pré-natal, o estágio sensório-motor é o menos “organizado”, tanto cognitivamente quanto afetivamente1. O termo “menos organizado” não deve ser considerado em um sentido pejorativo, já que em um contexto construtivista, a base do desenvolvimento afetivo-cognitivo é intrinsecamente proporcional em importância às futuras etapas que se sucederão. Todavia, neste período inicial do desenvolvimento, o bebê está tecendo as bases estruturais de sua capacidade interativa com mundo.
  • c) Sendo “menos organizado”, possui menos “peso estrutural”, logo, é muito mais vulnerável aos estímulos do ambiente, sejam eles quais forem. Pelo termo “peso estrutural”, queremos nos referir à densidade das fronteiras do sistema que vão sendo estabelecidas no processo de desenvolvimento. Um sistema estruturado delimita suas fronteiras com o ambiente, possuindo por isso condições de assumir uma distinção em relação ao meio. A criança, ao ingressar na linguagem, possui uma ferramenta de seleção mais eficiente, podendo se defender com maior eficácia da aleatoriedade dos estímulos que a circundam. Em outros termos, possui fronteiras que visam lhe oferecer maiores condições de se proteger do ambiente. A palavra “NÃO”, dita aos berros, é menos ambígua do que movimentos corporais ou o choro, que querem dizer a mesma coisa nesta situação hipotética, mas que pode não ser o caso em muitas outras situações. Logicamente, a compreensão de expressões corporais e guturais, que significam analogamente um determinado termo linguístico, será dependente do grau satisfatório de acoplamento que o bebê estabelece com o “sistema cuidador”, seja ele a mãe, o pai, a babá, os avós, a instituição cuidadora, etc. Podemos dizer que a linguagem falada exige “menos sensibilidade” dos sistemas cuidadores, oferecendo maiores possibilidades de a criança ter seus limites respeitados.
  • d) Se, por um lado, a aleatoriedade dos estímulos provindos do mundo produz originalidade e “aumento” da complexidade do sistema, por outro lado, também pode ser fonte de “encouraçamento” do organismo, já que se trata de um período de maior permeabilidade. Do período pré-natal ao estágio de aquisição da linguagem simbólica, a criança possui poucas ferramentas para lidar com estímulos agressores.
  • e) Também devemos ampliar a  compreensão semântica e conceitual do termo “sensório-motor” a partir de seus referenciais teóricos apresentados na teoria piagetiana, e isto por um  motivo relativamente óbvio. Quando nos referimos, por exemplo, a um termo como “a priori”, devemos estar atentos a sua amplitude semântica. Como se sabe, este termo possui conceitualmente um lugar central na Crítica da Razão Pura de Imanuel Kant (1988) e requer, metodologicamente, um rigor específico em seu manejo.
  • Com certeza, tal termo ainda continua a possuir em seu leque de significados a ideia de se referir a algo ou a alguma situação antes de qualquer outra. Contudo, devemos relevar que tal termo assume uma complexidade específica de acordo com o volume significativo incorporado em determinado contexto teórico. Da mesma maneira, quando nos referimos ao termo “sensório-motor”, de acordo com a epistemologia genética piagetiana, estamos evocando conceitualmente um arcabouço teórico específico e que compreende fronteiras epistemológicas bem delimitadas. Todavia, como podemos ampliar conceitualmente a proposta piagetiana em considerar o estágio sensório-motor não só enquanto uma das etapas de construção da cognição, mas na arregimentação permanente da totalidade de nosso ser? Será que a criança, ao “ultrapassar” esta fase por volta dos dois anos, deixa-a de fato para trás na forma de “organização transcendente” de outros esquemas de ação2?  p.195-96
  • Como consideram Maturana e Varela (2002),  caminhamos no “fio da navalha” cognitiva. Assim, o mundo não se impõe por categorias pré-determinadas, as quais devem ser recuperadas “adequadamente” pelo nosso sistema perceptivo, e tampouco o sistema cognitivo projeta no mundo suas “leis internas”. Por outro lado, considera-se aqui que a experiência e o aparato neuro-cognitivo se especificam mutuamente. Nos dizeres do construtivismo radical, ser e conhecer se retroalimentam em um “círculo virtuoso”. p.197
  • Decorrente de um complexo processo evolutivo filogenético, a hereditariedade demarcará as possibilidades de nossas construções mais fundamentais. Neste sentido, as aquisições sensório-motoras, simbólico-concretas e operatório-formais devem ser consonantes a esta estruturação psicogenética. Mas será que podemos dizer que este intricado processo ontogenético é experimentado, fundamentalmente, através de uma singularidade constitutiva?  p.198
  • De acordo com Varela et al., (2003), por ação incorporada devem ser considerados dois pontos: primeiro, que a cognição depende dos tipos de experiência decorrentes de se ter um corpo com várias capacidades sensório-motoras, e segundo, que essas capacidades sensório-motoras individuais estão, elas mesmas, embutidas em um contexto biológico, psicológico e cultural mais abrangente. Maturana (1998) também parece estar certo de que “toda conduta em um organismo que envolve seu sistema nervoso surge nele como expressão de sua dinâmica de correlações sensomotoras” (p. 39).
  • Todavia, o que queremos enfatizar neste momento é: a ação sensório-motora é fundamentalmente inseparável da cognição em todo o ciclo vital. Maurice Merlau-Ponty (1971) foi veemente em argumentar que a experiência do corpo tem na motricidade a sua principal referência. “a motricidade não é uma serva da consciência, que transporta o corpo ao ponto do espaço que nós previamente representamos (…) A motricidade é a esfera primária em que em primeiro lugar se engendra o sentido de todas as significações no domínio do espaço representado” (p. 193 e 197). p.198
  • Em uma primeira aproximação para a compreensão da singularidade sensório-motora, a qual percorrerá a estruturação de todos os atos sensórios e motores, devemos aceitar que os fatores organizadores serão condizentes à complexidade do organismo (genótipo), assim como da complexidade dos inúmeros fatores que se apresentam no ambiente (fenótipo). Neste sentido, os esforços auto-organizadores serão condizentes a um processo epigenético. Podemos então considerar, nos dizeres de Maturana e Varela, que a história auto-organizadora de cada ser humano é um retrato de sua ontogênese, e a fase sensório-motora deverá ser compreendida segundo estes parâmetros epistêmico-ontológicos. p.198
  • Segundo Maturana (1998), a percepção não é a captação de uma realidade independente do observador, e o fenômeno perceptivo não pode ser distinguido tão prontamente do que se denomina por “ilusório”, já que ambos são configurados pela conduta do organismo. p.199
  • O que podemos considerar desta experiência (A DOS GATINHOS), de acordo com os pressupostos de uma teoria cognitiva incorporada, é a ideia de que “ver o mundo” não consiste apenas em extrair traços visuais, mas guiar visualmente uma ação sensório-motora dirigida a eles. Não há percepção sem ação no real, sem movimento, sem comportamento efetivo-afetivo que especifica e configura “nosso” mundo. Sendo assim, cada mundo é, em última instância, um mundo singularmente construído na história cognitiva de acoplamentos estruturais. p.200
  • Maturana (1998), há aprendizagem “quando a conduta de um organismo varia durante sua ontogenia de maneira congruente com as variações do meio, e o faz seguindo um curso contingente a suas interações nele” (p. 31). Neste contexto, o meio não informa ao aprendiz, já que o meio será selecionado segundo a estrutura deste aprendiz. Seria por esta característica angular para a “biologia do conhecer” que compreenderíamos que o processo de aprendizagem é determinado a cada momento na relação do sistema com o meio e que “somente pode ser adequada ao meio se tal estrutura é congruente com a estrutura do meio e sua dinâmica de mudança” (Maturana, 1998, p. 32).  p.201
  • Toda organização autopoiética possui um limiar de tolerância quanto às perturbações que recebem do meio externo ou interno. Estas interferências são passíveis de observação por serem, exatamente, perturbações que incidem e geram transformações materiais, sendo que estas transformações nos informam, em parte, sobre a qualidade destas perturbações. Qualquer perturbação que ultrapasse o limiar suportado por determinada organização incorrerá em adoecimento e, em casos extremos, na desintegração do sistema. p.202
  • Como argumenta Damásio (2000), o sentido de “eu” (self) em nossa consciência “muda continuamente conforme avança no tempo, mesmo que conservemos uma impressão de que o self permanece o mesmo enquanto nossa existência prossegue” (p. 278). p.203
  • Damásio (2000) alega que as estruturas responsáveis pela “permanência” da consciência e de um sentido de “eu” e, por outro lado, do permanente fluxo da consciência que leva o “eu” a se atualizar, são sustentados por estruturas neurológicas diferentes. O eu sempre em mudança é o sentido de um self central. Este self não muda, mas é transitório, efêmero, precisa ser refeito, precisa renascer continuamente, e são as constantes explorações sensório-motoras as quais a criança vai ampliando em seu processo de desenvolvimento que organizam a consciência central. Por sua vez, o sentido de “eu” que “permanece” é o self autobiográfico, isto por se basear em um  complexo banco de dados, representado pela memória dos fatos e objetos que permeiam qualquer existência singular. Estes dados podem ser reativados e, neste sentido, oferecerem uma aparente “permanência” de nossa identidade. Logo, um funcionamento minimamente satisfatório da consciência requer a preservação das estruturas neurológicas envolvidas nesta complexa “dança” entre um “presente permanente” que escoa diante de nossos sentidos e de nossa extensa cadeia de construções alojadas em nossa memória. Sem a memória biográfica não teríamos a noção de passado, futuro e “intencionalidade” diante dos eventos que surgem a cada momento diante de nossos sentidos. Mas sem a narrativa da consciência central, não teríamos nenhum conhecimento do momento. p.203
  • Uma ideia interessante é a de que a concepção  de um sentido de “eu” enquanto uma instância sólida e rigidamente delimitada é apenas fruto de nossa ansiedade existencial. Segundo os autores acima citados, o mundo não pode ser encontrado separadamente de nossa incorporação. p.204
  • Cândido e Piqueira (2002:668) “Correlacionando a vivência de um “eu” individualizado à dimensão neuronal, Kandel (1999) aponta evidências que indicam que nosso cérebro não é uma série imutável de circuitos invariantes, mas sim um fluxo do ponto-de-vista estrutural e funcional. Também para Black, Scott, Robertson e Zachary (1990), as sinapses emergem de uma entidade dinâmica inesperada, que se transforma a todo momento. Segundo os autores, a essência da vida envolve o fato de que níveis mais altos do sistema cerebral transformam continuamente os níveis mais baixos, nos quais os mais altos estão baseados. Esse fenômeno não admite centro, mas gira em torno de uma evolução organizada recursivamente, imprevisível e espontânea, própria dos sistemas dinâmicos não-lineares”. p.204

SADE (2009) – Enação e Metodologias de Primeira Pessoa


SADE, Christian. Enação e Metodologias de Primeira Pessoa: o reencantamentodo concreto das investigações da experiência. INFORMÁTICA NA EDUCAÇÃO: teoria & prática Porto Alegre, v.12, n.2, p.42-58, jul./dez. 2009.

  • Nos últimos vinte anos tem se ressaltado nas ciências cognitivas o interesse por metodologias de primeira pessoa para investigar a experiência. resumo
  • O reencantamento do concreto proposto por Varela para os estudos da cognição se coloca, a nosso ver, para as metodologias de primeira pessoa, a partir da abordagem pragmática da fenomenologia formulada por Depraz, Varela e Vermersch. resumo
  • O campo das ciências cognitivas, desde o final dos anos oitenta tem enfatizado o interesse pelo problema da consciência ,  e da experiência, o que tem levado a uma reavaliação das teorias e métodos desse campo. Essa reavaliação tem apontado para a necessidade de se incluir nos estudos da cognição o uso de metodologias de primeira pessoa. p.45
  • Os processos cognitivos podem ser colocados em novas bases com as investigações de primeira pessoa, isto é, podem ser estudados não apenas como resultado observável de uma tarefa, mas também como um processo ou ação cognitiva que pode estar disponível como experiência consciente. p.45
  • A metodologia de terceira pessoa é aquela em que o dado surge para o observador externo e científico, a partir de um dispositivo experimental. Ela pressupõe a relação do participante com um ambiente controlado. A metodologia de segunda pessoa é aquela na qual o dado surge para uma segunda pessoa, pela sua mediação. Ela pressupõe a relação do participante da pesquisa com esse outro sujeito, seja o pesquisador através das instruções para o experimento, seja um entrevistador através de perguntas ou questões. Já a metodologia de primeira pessoa é aquela na qual o dado é fenomenológico, no sentido daquilo que aparece para o sujeito, como experiência, a partir da atenção que o sujeito porta sobre si próprio, sobre isso que ele pode acessar de sua experiência no momento presente em que ele experimenta ou a posteriori (retrospectivamente). Ela pressupõe a relação do sujeito consigo mesmo em função de uma atenção a si. p.46
  • A abordagem da enação afirma que todo conhecimento é inseparável do sujeito cognoscente, sujeito e mundo constituem-se mutuamente, assim toda ciência cognitiva habita uma circularidade, na qual a cognição estudada não pode ser isolada da estrutura e experiência (corporificação) do sujeito. O problema que colocamos é: não seriam as próprias metodologias de primeira pessoa sujeitas ao mesmo problema da experiência, isto é, da corporificação da ação e constituição de si? p.46
  • Os trabalhos de Varela e de seus comentadores acerca das metodologias de primeira pessoa nos oferecem subsídios para pensar que a exploração da experiência através de tais metodologias não visa um conhecimento objetivo (representacional) da experiência. p.46
  • A abordagem da enação surge no campo das ciências cognitivas tentando fazer frente ao modelo da representação (VARELA, 1988, 1992, VARELA; THOMPSON; ROSCH, 1992). Pela abordagem representacional sujeito e mundo são dois entes pré-existentes. A relação cognitiva se assenta na recuperação ou representação de características ambientais extrínsecas e independentes do sujeito cognitivo. Por outro lado, a abordagem da enação afirma que a cognição não é a representação de um mundo prévio por uma mente pré-existente, mas sim, a enação de um mundo e uma mente com base numa história de ações diversas realizadas pelo ser no mundo (1). p.46
  • 1 – O conceito de enação deriva do inglês to enact, que significa literalmente atuar, por em ato, efetuar. Varela (1988) pretende com ele preservar a proximidade entre ação e ator, ou seja, a ação está inevitavelmente ligada a um sujeito, mas este não existe independentemente dela (ser = fazer). Ao mesmo tempo, a enação afirma que o conhecimento não depende unicamente de qualidades intrínsecas do que se conhece, pois este é en-agido, nós fazemo-lo emergir (ser = fazer = conhecer). p.46
  • Autonomia implica a variação ou flexibilidade no centro da atividade cognitiva, sem a necessidade de um agente central. p.46
  • segundo Varela, Thompson e Rosch (1992), todas as nossas atividades dependem de um background que nunca pode ser precisado de forma absoluta e definitiva. p.46
  • Essa compreensão enativa, contudo, não nos leva a um relativismo. O relativismo é um problema na epistemologia, pois ele pressupõe que as diferentes perspectivas do conhecimento são arbitrárias e, por isso, incomensuráveis. A teoria da enação mostra que o sujeito não é determinado por algo externo, um fundamento objetivo, entretanto, ele não atua de forma arbitrária no mundo. Como diz Varela, a realidade é dependente do sujeito da percepção, “ [. . . ] não porque ele a ‘constrói’ por um capricho [ . . . ]” (VARELA, 1992, p. 330), mas porque o que conta como mundo relevante é inseparável da sua incorporação. p.47
  • Para Varela (1992, 1996b), a cognição autônoma é essencialmente concreta, corporificada e situada. É a corporificação e o contexto, isto é, o concreto, que nos permite negociar nosso caminho em um mundo que não é fixo e pré-determinado. A maneira pela qual o sujeito é corporificado, e não algum mundo independente, é que especifica o modo como o observador pode agir e ser modulado pelos eventos ambientais. Varela afirma que a enação consiste não de representações, mas de ações corporificadas. p.47
  • A corporificação é um processo que se dá na história de acoplamentos, na recorrência dos padrões sensório-motores. A enação é constituição de um corpo. É no próprio conhecer que o sujeito cognoscente é produzido (corporificado), conjuntamente ao objeto conhecido. p.47
  • Varela ressalta que a forma de inteligência mais profunda e fundamental é a de um bebê, que adquire a linguagem a partir de emissões vocais diárias e dispersas, e delineia objetos significativos a partir de um mundo não especificado previamente. O concreto e o abstrato não se contrapõem, o abstrato é também concreto e este está na sua base. Esse caráter concreto e incorporado da cognição coloca a questão da experiência no cerne do problema cognitivo.  p.47
  • No trabalho em que Varela, Thompson e Rosch (1992) discutem a relação entre ciências cognitivas e experiência humana, eles afirmam que a remete ao corpo como realidade experiencial vivida e também ao corpo como o meio dos processos biológicos e cognitivos. Os processos cognitivos são inseparáveis de uma vivência, de uma apreensão fenomenal. p.47-48
  • Segundo Thompson (2004), na obra de Varela, essa inseparabilidade entre cognição e experiência está ligada a inseparabilidade entre mente e corpo. O corpo como coisa material (Körper) e o corpo como ser vivo e senciente (Leib) são dois modos de um único e mesmo corpo (THOMPSON, 2004). Para Thompson, essa unidade mente e corpo se encontra na obra de Varela desde a teoria da autopoiese, a qual afirma que o ser vivo é um ser cognitivo, isto é, um ser produtor de sentido, que constitui mundo e si a partir do acoplamento estrutural com o meio. p.48
  • A experiência exprime a constituição de um mundo próprio, inerente à atividade cognitiva. p.48
  • É a partir da experiência que surge a fronteira entre eu e mundo. Como manifestação fenomenal a experiência é sempre em relação a alguém, mas não de alguém, pois o sujeito não pré-existe à experiência, ele emerge a partir dela. p.48
  • O que a abordagem enativa nos leva a problematizar é que a cognição não pode ser reduzida a estruturas universais, presentes em qualquer um. Ela visa uma cognição encarnada, que é sempre uma emergência situada, em ato, singular e concreta. p.48
  • Trata-se de considerar a circularidade intrínseca que existe nas ciências cognitivas: o estudo dos fenômenos mentais é sempre aquele de uma pessoa experienciando (experiencing person). p.48
  • Chalmers (2004) define que o desafio do projeto de construção de uma ciência da consciência é investigar a relação entre os problemas fáceis e difíceis da consciência. O problema fácil da consciência (fácil porque é mais bem conhecido ou explicado) é referido aos mecanismos funcionais objetivos da mente (cerebral na verdade) que lhe permitem discriminar estímulos, integrar informações, produzir relatos verbais e controlar o comportamento. Já o problema difícil é referido à experiência subjetiva, ao modo como as coisas são percebidas pelo indivíduo, como elas lhe aparecem, à dimensão qualitativa da experiência associada aos fenômenos cognitivos. p.50
  • Lutz e Thompson (2003) definem os métodos de primeira pessoa como práticas disciplinadas que os sujeitos podem usar para aumentar a sua sensibilidade a sua própria experiência gradualmente. Essas práticas envolvem sistemático treinamento da atenção e da auto-regulação emocional. Essa definição de metodologias de primeira pessoa é  fundamentada, na tradição da fenomenologia, da meditação budista, da psicoterapia (DEPRAZ; VARELA; VERMERSCH, 2003, VARELA; SHEAR, 1999). A relevância dessas tradições para a Neurofenomenologia é a capacidade para uma auto-consciência (self-awareness) atenta que elas sistematicamente cultivam. Essa capacidade possibilita que aspectos pré-verbais e pré-refletidos da experiência subjetiva, que de outra forma permaneceriam tácitos, possam tornar-se subjetivamente acessíveis e descritíveis. Assim como na redução fenomenológica, o problema metodológico da Neurofenomenologia é redirecionar a atenção para a fonte dos processos mentais, para o que está emergindo como objeto/conteúdo, e não para o objeto em si (VARELA, 1996a, LUTZ; THOMPSON, 2003, THOMPSON; LUTZ; COSMELLI, 2005) p.51
  • Mas, como afirmam Varela (1996a) e Thompson (1996), não há um ponto de vista independente e externo à experiência que permite determinar o que conta como experiência real ou normal (mais uma vez a circularidade fundamental). “Experiência não é objetificável: qualquer reflexão sobre a experiência é ela mesma uma forma de experiência que não deixa a experiência imutável [ . . . ]” (THOMPSON, 1996, p. 140). Por sua vez, Varela afirma: “[ . . . ] experiência parece ser inerentemente sem limites e flexível, e daí não há qualquer contradição em dizer que treinamento sustentado em um método pode tornar disponíveis aspectos da experiência que não estavam  disponíveis antes [ . . .]” (VARELA, 1996a, p. 346). p.52
  • Segundo Depraz, Varela e Vermersch (2003), o conceito aristotélico de práxis corresponde a uma atividade imanente, que contém nela mesma seu próprio fim, e não precisa de um esquema preparado. Já o conceito marxista de práxis, de acordo com os mesmos autores, corresponde à atividade humana, às transformações materiais e sociais da natureza e da sociedade, pelo qual o processo mesmo de conhecimento e de teorização é incluído no interior de uma apropriação prática pelo mundo e pelo eu (self). Os autores também afirmam que a práxis implica mudança do mundo e de si mesmo pela ação concreta.  p.53
  • Depraz, Varela e Vermersch (2003) extraem dessas práticas uma estrutura geral do processo de tomada de consciência. Eles apresentam essas práticas como exemplos situados e corporificados dessa estrutura geral. Essa estrutura descreve o próprio gesto de redução, e é chamado ciclo básico. Ela é constituída por três fases entrecruzadas. Uma etapa de suspensão da atitude natural, atitude judicativa com a qual normalmente nos voltamos para o mundo, e que caracteriza uma atitude de controle. Uma segunda etapa de redireção da atenção do exterior para o interior. E uma terceira etapa de mudança da qualidade da atenção, de acolhimento da experiência, chamada deixar-vir (lacher prise). p.54
  • [. . .] é aprender a praticar a relação consigo mesmo, aprender a escutar a si mesmo, aprender o deixar-vir que supõe a aceitação do preenchimento não imediato que sempre segue ao gesto de suspensão. [ . . . ] a prática de atender a sua experiência subjetiva implicará a sua pessoa inteira, desde que será uma questão de trabalhar sobre a sua própria auto-relação, sobre os detalhes de sua própria experiência. (DEPRAZ; VARELA; VERMERSCH, 2003 p. 101) p.54
  • Como diz Depraz, Varela e Vermersch (2003, 2006), a atenção é naturalmente interessada no mundo, ela não se desvia dele espontaneamente de forma alguma, pois o efeito de captação é irresistível. Essa atenção direcionada para si, e desviada ou desinteressada do mundo, é muito inabitual, na medida em que há relativamente poucas ocasiões de exercê-la espontaneamente  ou em resposta a uma demanda educativa. p.55
  • Neste caso, sustentar a atenção na respiração, acompanhado do gesto de suspensão, pode nos levar a sentir uma intensificação e clareza da experiência (WALLACE, 1999, 2008), ou uma amplitude da mente (VARELA; THOMPSON; ROSCH, 1992), na qual a fronteira entre interno e externo se apagam. p.55

THOMPSON, 2005 – Sensorimotor subjectivity and the enactive approach to experience


THOMPSON, Evan. Sensorimotor subjectivity and the enactive approach to experience. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, v.4, n.4, p.407–427, December 2005.


  • The enactive approach offers a distinctive view of how mental life relates to bodily activity at three levels: bodily self-regulation, sensorimotor coupling, and intersubjective interaction.
  • An account is given of how the subjectively lived body and the living body of the organism are related (the body-body problem) via dynamic sensorimotor activity, and it is shown how this account helps to bridge the explanatory gap between consciousness and the brain.
  • The name “the enactive approach” and the associated concept of enaction were introduced into cognitive science by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch (1991) in order to describe and unify under one heading several related ideas.1 The first idea is that living beings are autonomous agents that actively generate and maintain their identities, and thereby enact or bring forth their own cognitive domains. The second idea is that the nervous system is na autonomous system: it actively generates and maintains its own coherent and meaningful patterns of activity, according to its operation as na organizationally closed or circular and re-entrant sensorimotor network of interacting neurons. The nervous system does not process information in the computationalist sense, but creates meaning. The third idea is that cognition is a form of embodied action. Cognitive structures and processes emerge from recurrent sensorimotor patterns of perception and action. Sensorimotor coupling between organism and environment modulates, but does not determine, the formation of endogenous, dynamic patterns of neural activity, which in turn inform sensorimotor coupling. The fourth idea is that a cognitive being’s world is not a pre-specified, external realm, represented internally by its brain, but a relational domain enacted or brought forth by that being’s autonomous agency and mode of coupling with the environment. p.1
  • According to the enactive approach, the human mind is embodied in our entire organism and embedded in the world, and hence is not reducible to structures inside the head. Our mental lives involve three permanent and intertwined modes of bodily activity—self-regulation, sensorimotor coupling, and intersubjective interaction (Thompson and Varela 2001). Self-regulation is essential to being alive and sentient. It is evident in emotion and feeling, and in conditions such as being awake or asleep, alert or fatigued, hungry or satiated. Sensorimotor coupling with the world is expressed in perception, emotion, and action. Intersubjective interaction is the cognition and affectively charged experience of self and other. The human brain is crucial for these three modes of activity, but it is also reciprocally shaped and structured by them at multiple levels throughout the lifespan. p.2
  • The body-body problem is a non-Cartesian way of recasting the explanatory gap between the conscious mind and the physical body. In the body-body problem, the gap is no longer between two radically different ontologies (“mental” and “physical”), but between two types within one typology of embodiment (subjectively lived body and living body). The gap is also no longer absolute, because in order to formulate it we need to make common reference to life or living being. P.3
  • The body-body problem concerns the relation between one’s body as one subjectively lives it and one’s body as an organism in the world. This problem is in turn part of the general problem of the relation between oneself and the world, for one’s living body is part of the world and one’s body as one subjectively lives it is part of one’s sense of self. We can thus ask two questions: how does one’s lived body relate to the world and how does it relate to itself? Addressing these questions is one way to approach the body’s sensorimotor subjectivity.  p.3
  • The relation between one’s self and the world encompasses the relation between one’s self and one’s body. p.3
  • Things in the world bring forth suitable intentional actions and motor projects from the subject (the subject is a project of the world), but things in the world have specific motor senses or affordances only in relation to the motor skills of the subject (the world is projected by the subject). This body-environment circuit of motor intentionality is constitutive of what Merleau-Ponty calls the “intentional arc” subtending the life of consciousness, which integrates sensibility and motility, perception and action (1962, p. 136). The intentional arc and being-in-the-world overall are neither purely first-person (subjective) nor purely third-person (objective), neither mental nor physical. They are existential structures prior to and more fundamental than these abstractions. p.3
  • But if one’s body is the vehicle of being in the world, and is in this way a condition of possibility for experience, how or in what way can it too be experienced? This question asks about how one experiences oneself as a bodily subject, or how a lived body experiences itself as a lived body. p.4
  • A familiar theme of phenomenology, going back to Husserl, is that the lived body is a presupposition of the world’s perceptual presence. Things are perceptually situated by virtue of the orientation they have to our moving and perceiving bodies. p.4
  • One can, of course, also experience one’s body as an object, for example by looking directly at it or at one’s reflection in a mirror. In such cases, one is dealing with what has been called the conscious “body image” by contrast with the unconscious “body schema” (Gallagher 1986b, 1995). The body image is the body as an intentional object of consciousness. It is consciousness of the body-as-object (Legrand 2005). In the body image, the body is experienced as owned by the experiencing subject, and the image is typically a partial representation insofar as conscious awareness usually attends to only one part or area of the body at a time. The body schema, on the other hand, is neither an intentional object of consciousness nor a partial representation of the body, but rather an integrated set of dynamic sensorimotor principles that organize perception and action in a subpersonal and nonconscious manner. This distinction between body schema and body image, however, leaves out a fundamental form of bodily experience, namely, prereflective bodily self-consciousness (Zahavi 1999, pp. 98, 240; Legrand 2005). On the one hand, the body schema is not phenomenologically available to the subject: “The body schema… is not the perception of ‘my’ body; it is not the image, the representation, or even the marginal consciousness of the body. Rather, it is precisely the style that organizes the body as it functions in communion with its environment” (Gallagher 1986a, p. 549). On the other hand, one’s consciousness of one’s body is not limited to the body image, nor is the body image the most fundamental form of bodily consciousness. On the contrary, most of the time one’s body is not present as an intentional object, but is experienced non-intentionally and pre-reflectively. This kind of experience is consciousness of the body-as-subject (Legrand 2005). It corresponds to the relation of the lived body to itself, that is, to one’s experience of one’s body as perceiving and acting, rather than as perceived.4 Sartre calls this sort of self-consciousness “non-positional” or “non-thetic,” because it does not posit one’s body as an object; Merleau-Ponty calls it prereflective. Authors in the analytic philosophical tradition have described it as a nonobservational form of self-awareness (Shoemaker 1968, 1984). p.5
  • Pre-reflective bodily self-consciousness is evident in touch, for we not only feel the things we touch, we feel ourselves touching them and touched by them. When I pick up a cup of hot tea, I feel the hot, smooth surface of the porcelain and the heat penetrating my fingers, and these sensations linger for a time after I have put the cup back down on the table. Such bodily experience offers not only the experience of physical events that relate one’s body to things, but also the experience of sensorial events that relate one’s subjectively lived body to itself. p.5
  • These brief phenomenological reflections are enough to show that consciousness involves the body in a unique double way. One experiences one’s body as both subject and object. One’s body is the intentional object of one’s consciousness when one attends to one or another aspect or part of it. The content of this kind of bodily awareness corresponds to the body image or one’s body-as-object. But bodily consciousness cannot be reduced to this sort of experience, because one also pre-reflectively and nonintentionally experiences one’s body-as-subject. The challenge for any scientific account of consciousness is to preserve this unique double character of bodily self-consciousness. p.6
  • Legrand has worked to give an account of bodily self-consciousness that meets these criteria (Legrand 2005). She argues that bodily consciousness in the case of action consciousness is reducible neither to awareness of one’s intentions to act nor to proprioception understood as an internal mode of identification of the body, and therefore cannot be based on either efferent or afferent mechanisms alone. Bodily consciousness consists in experiencing one’s body as a locus of the convergence of perception and action, and therefore depends on a matching of sensory and motor information, so that perception and action are coherent (see also Hurley 1998, pp. 140-143). There must be a specific match between (i) the intention to act, (ii) the motor consequences of this intention, including the guidance of bodily movements during the executed action, and (iii) the sensory consequences of this action, including both proprioception and exteroception. p.7
  • This strategy of working on both sides of the gap is precisely the one pursued by the dynamic sensorimotor approach. Rather than looking to the intrinsic properties of neural activity in order to explain experience, this approach looks to the dynamic sensorimotor relations among neural activity, the body, and the world. The concept that has dual currency for this approach is the concept of dynamic sensorimotor activity. On the mental side, perceptual experiences are explicated as ways of acting, constituted in part by the perceiver’s implicit and practical knowledge or skillful mastery of the relation between sensory experience and movement (O’Regan and Noë 2001a; Noë 2004). The senses have different characteristic patterns of sensorimotor dependence, and perceivers have an implicit, skillful mastery of these differences. On the brain side, neural states are described not at the level of their intrinsic neurophysiological properties or as neural correlates of mental states, but rather in terms of how they participate in dynamic sensorimotor patterns involving the whole active organism (Hurley and Noë 2003). p.7
  • What it is to experience the world perceptually is to exercise one’s bodily mastery or know-how of certain patterns of sensorimotor dependence between one’s sensing and moving body and the environment. p.8
  • Ongoingness means that an experience is experienced as occurring to me, or happening to me here, now, as though I was inhabited by some ongoing process like the humming of a motor. Forcible presence is the fact that, contrary to other mental states like my knowledge of history, for example, a sensory experience imposes itself upon me from the outside, and is present to me without my making any mental effort, and indeed is mostly out of my voluntary control. Ineffability indicates that there is always more to the experience than what we can describe in words. Finally, subjectivity indicates that the experience is, in an unalienable way, my experience. It is yours or mine, his or hers, and cannot be had without someone having it. But subjectivity also indicates that the experience is something for me, something that offers me an opportunity to act or think with respect to whatever is experienced (Myin and O’Regan 2002, p. 30). p.8-9
  • According to the sensorimotor approach, perceptual experiences are active manifestations of a kind of skillful knowledge and are defined in terms of potential for action. In general it is difficult to describe the knowledge underlying a skill. Thus ineffability is explained by our being unable to describe verbally our implicit, practical knowledge of the sensorimotor patterns constitutive of perceptual experience. p.9
  • The dynamic sensorimotor approach needs a notion of selfhood or agency, because to explain perceptual experience it appeals to sensorimotor knowledge. Knowledge implies a knower or agent or self that embodies this knowledge. p.10
  • According to the enactive approach, agency and selfhood require that the system be autonomous. An autonomous system is a self-defining or selfdetermining  system, by contrast with a system defined and controlled from the outside or a heteronomous system. An autonomous system is one whose component processes meet two conditions: (i) they recursively depend on each other for their generation and their realization as a system, and (ii) they constitute the system as a unity in whatever domain they exist (Varela 1979, p. 55). p.10
  • The paradigm is a living cell. Its components are molecular and exist in the chemical domain, but the system as a whole is a biological individual or agent. Its individuality and agency are based on its having a self-producing or autopoietic organization: it is organized as a selfproducing and self-maintaining network that constructs its own membrane boundary and actively regulates its background or boundary conditions so as to remain viable in its environment (Maturana and Varela 1980; Bitbol and Luisi 2004; Bourgine and Stewart 2004; Di Paolo, this volume). It is thanks to this autopoietic organization that the system qualifies as a genuine autonomous agent. p.10
  • The nervous system establishes and maintains a sensorimotor cycle, whereby what the animal senses depends directly on how its moves, and how it moves depends directly on what it senses. This operationally closed organization of the nervous system underwrites the animal’s autonomy, such that it meets the environment on its own sensorimotor terms. p.10
  • This self-producing organization defines the system’s identity and determines a perspective or point of view in relation to the environment. Systems organized in this way enact or bring forth what counts as information for them; they are not transducers or functions for converting input instructions into output products. For these reasons, it is legitimate to invoke the concepts of selfhood and agency to describe them. p.11
  • Adding an enactive account of selfhood to the dynamic sensorimotor approach goes only part way toward addressing the body-body problem. In addition we need to include subjectivity in the sense of a phenomenal feeling of bodily selfhood linked to a correlative feeling of otherness. p.11
  • “Ongoingness means that an experience is experienced as occurring to me, or happening to me here, now, as though I was inhabited by some ongoing process like the humming of a motor. Forcible presence is the fact that… a sensory experience imposes itself upon me from outside, and is present to me without any mental effort, and indeed is mostly under my voluntary control” (Myin and O’Regan 2002, p. 30, my emphasis). Each italicized phrase describes an aspect of the subjectivity or first-personal character of experience. p.12
  • Pre-reflective bodily self-consciousness is close to Hurley’s notion of “perspectival selfconsciousness” (Hurley 1998, pp. 140-143). Perspectival selfconsciousness is awareness of one’s own intentional motor agency in perception. This sort of awareness is constitutive of having a unified perspective on the world, such that one is able to keep track of the interdependence of one’s perception and action. According to Hurley, perspectival self-consciousness does not involve conceptually structured thought or inference (but see Noë 2002 and 2004). Perspectival self-consciousness is not equivalent to everything phenomenologists mean by the notion of prereflective self-consciousness, but to that part of bodily self-consciousness that involves action consciousness. p.15
  • Pre-reflective bodily self-consciousness is consciousness of one’s body-assubject and therefore is not equivalent to proprioception, if proprioception is understood as a mode of perceptual awareness of one’s body-as-object. Whether proprioception should be understood this way is a matter of debate among philosophers. Bermúdez (1998) argues that proprioception is a form of perception; Gallagher (2003) argues that it is a form of non-perceptual bodily awareness; Legrand (2005) argues that it is a form of perception but is not sufficient for pre-reflective bodily self-consciousness. p.15