Hertfordshire Node

Project 1: Enactive and Extended Cognition in Social Institutional Contexts

Shaun Gallagher and John Z. Elias


The first project, under the supervision of Shaun Gallagher, is designed to gain theoretical insight and to refine empirical methods for analyzing intersubjective interaction within the structure of institutional practices. Specifically the proposal is (i) to examine theoretical differences between enactive/embodied approaches and extended/functionalist approaches to social cognition, with special reference to how these differences play out in institutional contexts; (ii) to study, experimentally, using advanced virtual and mixed reality simulations, how work and performance contexts, as defined by physical environment, technology use, and institutional practices, facilitate (or undermine) social interaction. This project will support innovative research that links theories of interactive intersubjectivity to questions about institutional structures. This project involves a partnership with the Cognitive Sciences Program and the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

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Project 2: Non-Representational Theory of Pretence in Social Cognition

Daniel D. Hutto and Zuzanna Rucinska


The second project, under the supervision of Daniel D. Hutto, explores (i) the theoretical possibility of non-representational ways of understanding early, pre-linguistic forms of pretence and (ii) how socio-cultural practices influence imaginative play. Research focuses on how these practices could serve as a bridge between embodied intersubjective engagements and the acquisition of narrative-based modes of understanding others. Lines of empirical investigation include: (1) the course and stages of children’s development; (2) the modes and quality of interaction during their early years as they progress from pretend play to more discursive narrative practices; and (3) the constants and variables of such engagements (e.g. reference to mental state terms by children, caregivers and/or in children’s narratives).

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