Social Cognition Workshop – Ljubljana – 5+6 April

Sensing Into 4E Theory: Practicing Curiosity at Multiple Levels of Sense-Making
5 + 6 April – 2019 – Ljubljana.

When cognition is explored at the level of theory the experiential dimensions of what cognition feels like and how it actually unfolds are often left at the sidelines. This is a workshop to put felt experience back into the science of understanding cognition.

We present concrete tools to help you explore feeling into your situation – the embodied, equipped, social dynamics of cognition in your own every day work and beyond. We offer exercises dealing with internal experience and exercises to explore different forms of participatory sense making. As well, we will work with the idea of “letting be.” (Hanne de Jaegher/Kym Maclaren). More info below.

FREE PARTICIPATION. Open to all. All experience backgrounds, ages and mobilities are welcome.
LOCATION: Pedagoška fakulteta (Faculty of Education) – Kardeljeva ploščad 16 – 1000 Ljubljana – Map. Spodnja mala telovadnica.
TIME: Friday 5 April – 16:00 – 19:00. Saturday 6 April 10:30-13:30.
This workshop is designed as a 2 day process. If you are only able to attend 1 day, we invite you on Friday 5 April. Saturday 6 April is only open to those who have attended the Friday session.  English language workshop – Slovenian translation will be available. For further questions, email erinchristinebell A T
This workshop is arranged by Ema Demšar + Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Ljubljana – Website Link in English, here. Spletna stran povezava v slovenskem jeziku tukaj.

Facilitation by Erin Bell and Annika Lübbert.

Erin Bell facilitates a somatic practice in Berlin. Her work is strongly informed by her background in natural horsemanship, theater and dance performance, improvisation practice, and a serious hobby of studying science. Her interest in science, and the Enactive Approach in particular, has led her to create learning environments which integrate science research with somatic practice. She has also been researching situated-social cognition via movement sessions, followed by sensation based interviews (most influenced by Micro-Phenomenology. Selected interviews are available in audio, here.)

Studying science helps me understand more about what I experience in practice; the combination of know-how and know-what helps me feel more connected to all of nature. I’m also interested in collaborating and being in conversation with scientists because I see how strong of an impact science has on western culture. What healing modalities are covered by insurance, what kind of healthcare is offered through states systems (mental + physical) and what-how children are taught in schools are examples where what-science-says strongly effects entire populations. I hope that more scientists with interdisciplinary interests reach beyond the walls of academia, towards participatory research; such integration, collaboration of know-how and know-what expertise may bring forth benefits for all of society.

Annika Lübbert  has completed a BA in Liberal Arts and Science at University College Maastricht, and an MSc in Brain and Mind Sciences jointly offered by UCL, ENS and UPMC in London and Paris. Annika, having returned to her home-town Hamburg, Germany, is now a PhD student in neuroscience and seeks to relate levels of organization: What happens when two people coordinate to solve a task, play a game together? How do they experience their interaction? What can we learn about their interaction by looking at the movements (of fingers, hands-arms, eyes) and brain activity (EEG recording) involved?

The idea that the body, the environment and our interactions with other people TOGETHER endow us with abilities, experiences and thoughts has in theory been at the center of my PhD studies, from the very start. I ask, however: If we accept the body as a primary route to experiencing, understanding, learning – how come we (scientists) never do anything to get the body involved or aligned with the thinking we try to achieve together? Why do we organize conferences expecting the majority of participants to passively sit through hours of presentations, when we know that active and playful engagement with material is key to both understanding and creativity? Why is horizontal, clear and open communication not taught and practiced as a central pillar of scientific culture, if clearly it is a prerequisite for the quality of our joint achievements?

This workshop offers me a way to integrate my studies and research in cognitive science, my personal experience in shifting ingrained social dynamics, and the tools and pleasures I take from dance, sports, and being and moving in the outdoors in general.

About 4E cognition
The science of cognition aims to get at how we generate knowledge and understanding, based on our senses, experience and thought. Traditional cognitive science has proposed an internal, information-processing account of how knowing and understanding work: we have the data coming in through our senses, and from there, we deduce/calculate/infer models of our self, the environment, interaction partners etc., and these in turn animate our experience and inform our thoughts and actions.
‘4E cognition’ is a header for approaches that propose a more distributed account and see knowledge and understanding as a relational process, one that is Embodied (taking place in and through the body), Embedded (within the physical environment), Extended (through tools and concepts) and Enacted (in continuous movement), and cannot be reduced to the internal workings of a mind or brain in isolation.
Key concepts such as intercorporeality (Merleau-Ponty, Fuchs) or participatory sense making (De Jaegher, Di Paolo) emphasize the relational character of sense and reality making (cognition) in the social domain.

What does somatic/mindful practice have to do with cognitive science?!
Where 4E cognition seeks to widen the range of processes considered relevant for understanding and knowing, somatic practices could be seen as having long understood and already busy working to improve the functioning and effectivity of the ongoing chit-chat of feedback between our levels of organization.

They could also be seen as sister efforts: 4E cognition intuits that the body/environment/etc is very important in knowing/understanding, and is out and about to test and show this in controlled experiments or field studies. Somatic practice seeks to tap into the structure-giving function or ability of the body and our awareness of its ongoing activity to facilitate more effective or wholesome regulation and integration.

What is somatics?!
The term somatics was coined in 1979 by a westerner (USA). It refers to a way of being-doing any activity. It is exploring what being alive feels like. What are the sensations you notice as you sit here, have a thought, experience an emotion, smell this room…  Much like sitting meditation comes in many varieties, the exact exercise or mode of exploring what it feels like is limitless in possible variations (such as narrow or broad focus, interosception or proprioception, etc.) Many activities, such as meditation, yoga or chi gong, are much older than the term somatics, yet fall under the umbrella of the term’s meaning. More ...