Online: MLE YouTube channel

Core Enaction: Semester 4

Applications to join the live discussion on zoom have now closed. However, please join us via the live streaming on YouTube here.

“What makes science open and creative is the reinterpretation of the ‘original’ problems and approaches. As some of the best scientists have pointed out, the re-evaluation of the past of science is the best introduction to its future. (…) Only by considering the earliest roots and revisiting the problem spaces can we reach a fresh perspective on theoretical and conceptual tools.”

(Francisco J. Varela)

Semester 4 (Spring 2024): Enactive Knowing, Being, Doing

In autumn 2022, MLE launched an unprecedented e-learning programme — Core Enaction — designed to initiate students, researchers, scholars, and practitioners from all walks of life into the world(s) of enactive thought. We began in Semester 1 with “Genealogy,” retracing the origin story and major building blocks of the enactive view across cognitive science, cybernetics, philosophy, Buddhist thought, and more. In Semesters 2 and 3, we undertook a close reading of The Embodied Mind (F. Varela, E. Thompson, E. Rosch), the foundational text in which the enactive framework was elaborated from a cross-disciplinary perspective, guided in part by ‘experts’ on each of the chapter’s central themes.

Now in Semester 4, we aim to extend and expand our work together from the previous three semesters, leaning into the ways that the enactive approach informs, both implicitly and explicitly, the practices of people in the world today: therapists and teachers, artists and curators, improvisors and AI specialists, the neurodivergent community and more. Structured differently from past semesters, this semester will provide a series of gatherings, or ‘situations of encounter’ (B. Massumi), for an open, ongoing conversation among the invited researcher-practitioners — both within each session and across all eight sessions — with participatory sense-making as the unifying thread to the semester. Our hosts this semester, Dr Hanne De Jaegher and Dr Letícia Renault, look forward to interacting with participants and speakers from a wide variety of horizons, encouraging a radically bottom-up investigation into the ways that we make and curate meaning together through our participation in various forms of practice.

We look forward to welcoming an impressive array of guest speakers. Please visit this page for regular updates.

Our Hosts

Hanne De Jaegher, D.Phil., is a philosopher and cognitive scientist. She is fascinated by how we think, work, play—basically: live and love—together. For studying this, she has developed the enactive theory of intersubjectivity called participatory sense-making. She believes that interdisciplinarity and open-mindedness are essential for this work, and collaborates with psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, sociologists, physical therapists, systemic therapists, movement experts, people with autism.

Leticia Renault is a psychologist and researcher. Her interests include topics related to enactive approaches, participatory methodologies in mental health and first-person methodologies. Leticia has a PhD in Psychology from the Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil, with an internship at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Liège, Belgium. Currently, her work seeks to connect some of the concepts from the field of cognitive research and the therapeutic and cultural practices in different social contexts.


Time & DateTopicGuest(s)
18:00 – 20:00 CET
27th March 2024

Session 1 – Participatory Sense-Making (primer)

What is participatory sense-making? How do you relate to this frame from a practical (practice-based) standpoint? Why might PSM be a particularly robust lens for examining certain practices in the world today? How do knowing, being, and doing show up as three facets of the same prism?
Dr Hanne De Jaegher, Dr Rebecca Todd and fellow guest speakers
18:00 – 20:00 CEST
10th April 2024

Session 2 – Thinking Divergently (neurodiversity)

What does it mean to think divergently? What are the implications of this in a world with neuronormative claims on our minds and bodies? How can we de-pathologize divergence from within the very professions that tend to pathologize it the most? What can we learn from the field of disability studies as an alternative to this pathologizing impulse?
Dr Hanne De Jaegher, Jonny Drury, Dr Allison Leigh Holt, and Dr Katta Spiel
18:00 – 20:00 CEST
17th April 2024

Session 3 – Healing (psychology & psychiatry)

What is healing to you? What is the relationship between caring and healing? How do we enact healing in a participatory (or bottom-up) manner? How might we lower the barrier between self and other in encounters of healing? How can we begin to think about the preverbal, somatic forms of knowing that emerge in the therapeutic container? How can a listening epistemology aid us in opening up the space of healing? 
Dr Sanneke de Haan, Dr Rika Preiser, Amy Cohen Varela, and fellow guest speakers
18:00 – 20:00 CEST
8th May 2024

Session 4 – Moving & Improvising (dance, music, and somatics)

What is improvising? How do we move through the world in a way that is generative and collaborative? What forms of knowing are operative in improvisation which may have yet to be systematised through language? What might we learn from improvisation practices to help us live more ethically?
Anne Collod, Luc Petton, Barbara Bogatin, Dr Scott Brewer, and fellow guest speakers
18:00 – 20:00 CEST
29th May 2024

Session 5 – Curating (arts, the creative process, and curation)

What is curation — both in the professional sense, within institutional settings, and in a meta-professional sense? How do we continually curate meaning together? What is the role of friction and difference in the process of creating together?
Dr. Shay Welch, Dr Karen Holdaway Grøn, and fellow guest speakers
18:00 – 20:00 CEST
5th June 2024

Session 6 – Teaching, Learning, and Transmitting (pedagogy)

What is transmission? What is transformation? How do we learn in a way that honours participatory sense-making? What is the role of language in this process? What is necessary to bridge the divide between so-called theory and practice? How do we move from the mind of an expert to the mind of a beginner, in a way that creates space for greater possibilities?
Dr Erin Manning, Dr Joëlle Aden, and fellow guest speakers
18:00 – 20:00 CEST
12th June 2024

Session 7 – Computing Differently (AI & Robotics and the future of cognitive science) 

What is it to engage in a world with AI? What is innovation? How are our bodies and emotions implicated in this new world we are learning to inhabit? What does intersubjectivity look like in such a world?
Dr Luc Steels, Dr Takashi Ikegami, and fellow guest speakers
18:00 – 20:00 CEST
26th June 2024

Session 8 – Enactive Ethics: Difference Becoming Participation

Concluding discussion with speakers and participants, including a special guest
All guest speakers, including a special guest for this final session

Technical Information

The lectures and discussions take place on Zoom. Participation in the live Zoom room is decided through an application process. Applications for Semester 4 will open soon!

As we have only a limited number of spaces in the online discussion room, the general audience will be able to follow the lectures and discussions live on our MLE YouTube channel.

We ask all participants to make a donation of their choice to support this course, as we are a not-for-profit organization and we rely on donations to organize regular programming. The suggested donation is 50 Euros for the entire semester; for those in financial difficulty, a minimum of 10 Euros is requested; and for those who wish to contribute at a “supporter level,” we would be grateful for donations of 100 Euros or more. We are very grateful for your support, at whatever level you are able to contribute and look forward to offering more programs like this in the future.

Post-event recordings

Click here for Semester 4 materials & recordings

Joelle Aden

Joelle Aden is a full professor at the Social Science & Humanities Department of Paris-Est Créteil University. She set up the LangENACT research team in 2019. Her research, in line with the enactive paradigm, focuses on renewing the mutual inquiry between the arts and the sciences in education. She investigates the notion of translanguaging as "the dynamic act of connecting with oneself, with others and with one's environment, through which shared meanings continuously emerge between human beings" (2013). She explores a transdisciplinary methodology that engages corporeality and emotions in the training of teachers and artists. With her team, she experiments with a cognitive framework of reference inspired by the living world.

Barbara Bogatin

Barbara Bogatin is a cellist with the San Francisco Symphony, chamber music player, and educator in the field of mindfulness training for musicians. In 35 years of practicing insight meditation, she has integrated the embodied knowledge this contemplative work nurtures into effective methods for improving instrumental practice and performance. Along with her husband, neuroscientist Clifford Saron, she has led workshops on meditation and music practice called “The Buddha, the Brain, and Bach,” at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the Esalen Institute, Stanford Symposium for Music and the Brain, Telluride Compassion Festival, USC Center for Mindfulness Science, South Africa Conference on Mindfulness, the Ecology of Mind and Matter Symposium in Todi, Italy, and the Nirakara Institute in Madrid, Spain. She received Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School in New York. Here is brief video where she talks about music and meditation: https://youtu.be/8q7ytYZ-Ke8. Website: Barbarabogatin.com

Elena Cuffari

Elena Cuffari is Assistant Professor of Psychology and Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind at Franklin & Marshall College (United States). A philosopher of cognitive science with a background in phenomenology, pragmatism, feminist philosophy, and cognitive linguistics, she has authored and co-authored papers on the enactive approach to language, gesture, metaphor, and narrative pacing. She is co-author of Linguistic Bodies: The Continuity Between Life and Language (2018) with Ezequiel Di Paolo and Hanne De Jaegher. Recent work develops the ethical and political implications of the linguistic bodies framework, with studies on habit and hope in the face of the global climate crisis. She is currently interested in interactions between linguistic bodies and other meaning-making agents, and in increasing participatory possibilities in technology and in research methods.

Hanne De Jaegher

Hanne De Jaegher, D.Phil., is a philosopher and cognitive scientist, writer, researcher, and teacher. A leading developer of the enactive approach to intersubjectivity, she has conceived and elaborated the theory of participatory sense-making with Ezequiel Di Paolo. Participatory sense-making has since been tested and applied across a wide range of academic and applied disciplines, from neuroscience to the arts. Currently, she is thinking about how loving and knowing relate to each other as existential tensions in human lives. She has proposed that the enactive approach is an engaging epistemology — a perspective that interweaves knowing with being and doing, and ethics with interaction. Her methodological innovations include the development, with Barbara Pieper, of the PRISMAtic approach. With Ezequiel Di Paolo and Elena Cuffari, she co-authored Linguistic Bodies (2017, MIT Press). Dr De Jaegher is co-director of Dialogica UK, a majority autistic-led social enterprise out of the UK that facilitates dialogues and provides coaching for autistic people, family members and friends, and academic researchers.

Jonny Drury

Jonny's aim is to unite people through dialogue, healing and the arts. He is creator of the Autism Dialogue Approach®, co-founder of Dialogica and trainer-trainer for the National Autism Trainer Programme in Britain. His coaching, learning design and facilitation approach draws from a broad range of modalities and life-experience, which ultimately recognises that our interconnectedness at all levels is the key agent for healing and change. He is currently writing the Autism Dialogue Handbook, to accompany a new practitioner training programme.

Karen Grøn

Museum director and curator of collaborative art projects at Trapholt Museum of Modern Art, Craft and Design, Kolding, Denmark. She explores and researches how to make the arts accessible and relevant to multiple citizens through engagement and exchange.

Sanneke de Haan

Sanneke de Haan is Socrates Professor of Psychiatry and Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Assistant Professor Clinical Bioethics at the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University. She works on topics at the intersection of philosophy and psychiatry. Her current research project focusses on so-called self-illness ambiguity for patients with recurrent depressions, and the development of a notion of relational authenticity. Her book on Enactive Psychiatry was published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press.

Allison Leigh Holt

Allison Leigh Holt is an artist and a Fulbright Scholar who uses techniques of expanded cinema and the Light and Space Movement to model divergent manifestations of mind. Holt’s work has been supported by The Ford Foundation Gallery, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the David Bermant Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, Denise Montell Molecular Science Laboratories (UC Santa Barbara), and Cemeti Institute for Art and Society (Indonesia). They have been a resident artist / researcher at Sanggar Perbakayun (Indonesia); the Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology; and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; and their writing has featured in Yale’s Theater Magazine, Leonardo Journal, Panorama, and Public Journal. They have exhibited, screened, and lectured nationally and internationally, in Latvia, Poland, Indonesia, and at the University of North Dakota Writers Conference with sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson and theoretical physicist Brian Greene. A current fellow at the Montalvo Art Center, Holt pursues Ph.D. studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) at the intersection of neurodivergence, feedback structures / media art, and ways of knowing. (www.oillyoowen.com)

Erin Manning

Erin Manning studies in the interstices of philosophy, aesthetics and politics, concerned, always, about alter-pedagogical and alter-economic practices. Pedagogical experiments are central to her work, some of which occur at Concordia University in Montreal where she is a research chair in Speculative Pragmatism, Art and Pedagogy in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Recent monographs include The Minor Gesture (Duke 2016), For a Pragmatics of the Useless (2020) and Out of the Clear (minor compositions 2022). Her artwork is textile-based and relationally-oriented, often participatory. She is interested in the detail of material complexity, in what reveals itself to perception sideways, in the quality of a textural engagement with life. Her work often plays synesthetically with touch, of recent in acknowledgement and experimentation with the ProTactile movement for DeafBlind culture and language. Tactile propositions include large-scale hangings produced with a diversity of tools including tufting, hooking, knotting, weaving. 3e is the main direction her current research takes - an exploration of the transversality of the three ecologies, the social, the environmental and the conceptual. An iteration of 3e is a land-based project north of Montreal where living and learning is experimented. Legacies of SenseLab infuse the project, particularly the question of how collectivity is crafted in a more-than-human encounter with worlds in the making.

Ezequiel A. Di Paolo

Ezequiel A. Di Paolo is a full-time Research Professor working at Ikerbasque, the Basque Science Foundation in Spain and a Visiting Professor at the Department of Informatics, University of Sussex. His interdisciplinary work on embodied and enactive approaches to life, mind, and society integrates insights from cognitive science, neuroscience, phenomenology, philosophy of mind, and computational modelling. His recent research focus is on enactive theory, embodied intersubjectivity, language, ethics, and participatory sense-making. He is (co)author of over 180 publications (journal articles, books, and edited collections) including the books Sensorimotor Life: An Enactive Proposal (2017, Oxford University Press) and Linguistic Bodies. The Continuity between Life and Language (2018, MIT Press). He is co-editor of the forthcoming annotated edition of Francisco Varela’s Principles of Biological Autonomy (MIT Press).

Luc Petton

Luc Petton is an atypical artist-choreographer. He entered the world of dance first by studying martial arts and then received his dance training in New York and Germany. Starting in 2004 he embarked on an extraordinary adventure wherein he would invite birds and dancers on stage to improvise and engage in a poetic dialogue. This concept gave birth to four different pieces: La confidence des oiseaux with crows, jays, magpies, starlings and parakeets; SWAN with white and black swans; Light Birds with Japanese cranes; and Ainsi la Nuit, with vultures, owls and a wolf. His unusual body of work has received many accolades, including the distinction of Officier des Arts et Lettres from the French Republic. In parallel with his choreography career, Luc Petton has long had an interest in contemplative practice, notably Zen and Vipassana meditation, which he has studied in France, New York, and Japan. From 2015 onward he has collaborated with Dr. Jean-Gérard Bloch in the diploma-granting program at the university of Strasbourg, Médecine-méditation-neurosciences. With such projects, he has been able to practise and enact the idea of letting be, in the sense of restoring each participant, human or non-human, to its own freedom of expression.

Rika Preiser

Prof. Rika Preiser, co-chair of the UNESCO Chair in Complexity and Transformative African Futures at the CST, focuses on engaged philosophy, Complex Adaptive Systems science, social-ecological research, environmental philosophy, and ethics. Her work centers on understanding human-nature relations and fostering sustainability. As Co-Chair, Rika spearheads initiatives exploring African futures using complexity science. Her interdisciplinary approach blends insights from various fields, offering unique perspectives on challenges at the humanity-environment nexus. She collaborates with decision-makers, communities, NGOs, and para-statal organizations in Southern Africa, conducting project-based sustainability research. Rika supervises students using Participatory Action Research to tackle social-ecological issues. Rika earned Masters degrees in Journalism (2004) and Social Anthropology (2008), followed by a 2012 PhD from Stellenbosch University's Philosophy Department, titled “The Problem of Complexity: Rediscovering the role of Critique.”

Leticia Renault

Leticia Renault is a psychologist and researcher. Her interests include topics related to enactive approaches, participatory methodologies in mental health and first-person methodologies. Leticia has a PhD in Psychology from the Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil, with an internship at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Liège, Belgium. She was a postdoc at the Centre for Social Studies (CES) at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and also worked in the area of mental health, participating in a research/intervention project to increase the autonomy of psychiatric medication users in the decisions regarding their treatment and health (GAM – Gaining Autonomy with my Medication). Currently, her work seeks to connect some of the concepts from the field of cognitive research and the therapeutic and cultural practices in different social contexts, such as in Brazil (OPOCA, https://opoca.org/) and in the international network of the Clinique de Concertation (https://concertation.net/f-i-c-c/). She is also working in the field of complex thinking as a researcher collaborator at CES.

Katta Spiel

Katta Spiel is an Assistant Professor for 'Critical Access in Embodied Computing' at TU Wien. They research marginalised perspectives on embodied computing through a lens of Critical Access. Their work informs design and engineering supporting the development of technologies that account for the diverse realities they operate in. In their interdisciplinary collaborations with neurodivergent and/or nonbinary peers, they conduct explorations of novel potentials for designs, methodologies and innovative technological artefacts.

Luc Steels

Luc Steels is Professor Emeritus in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Brussels (VUB) in Belgium. He studied linguistics and philosophy at the University of Antwerp and computer science and artificial intelligence at MIT (US). He founded and directed the VUB Artificial Intelligence laboratory in Brussels from 1983 and the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris from 1996. From 2011 he was research professor at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. Currently he is scientific director at the Venice International University and senior strategy advisor at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. Steels worked in many areas of AI from computational linguistics, expert systems, and knowledge representation to neural networks, cognitive robotics and value-aware AI. He is primarily interested in using AI as a tool to investigate embodied mind, meaning, language and consciousness. In 2022 Steels received the Distinguished Service award of the European AI Research Association, the highest award for AI in Europe. He is currently chair for natural sciences of the Royal Flemish Academy for science and art in Belgium. Luc Steels has also been active in the performing arts as a composer of operas and theatre. His latest opera Fausto (performed in Brussels and Paris) was about transhumanism and the limits and dangers of using AI in attempts to gain immortality.

Rebecca Todd

Rebecca Todd is an Associate Professor in the UBC Department of Psychology. She has a Master’s degree in Dance from UCLA and worked as a contemporary choreographer and dance writer for a number of years. She subsequently received a PhD in Developmental Science and Neuroscience from University of Toronto, and post-doctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at the Rotman Research Institute and University of Toronto. Her research program focuses on brain and behavioural processes underlying the interaction between human emotion and cognition, in health and in mood disorders, as studied in the lab and in the world.

Amy Cohen Varela

Amy Cohen Varela is Chairperson of the Mind & Life Europe Board and involved with Mind and Life since its inception. She is also a clinical psychologist specialized in psychodynamic therapy and philosophy. Amy studied comparative literature at Brown and Columbia Universities before moving to Paris in the early '80s, where she received her degree in clinical psychology at the University of Paris 7, with a specialty in psychodynamic theory and practice, and in parallel, completed psychoanalytic training.

Shay Welch

Shay Welch is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Spelman College. She is currently the Scholar-in-Residence for the city of Atlanta's public art project; the project is titled "Public Performance Art as Resistance to Epistemic Injustice". Recently, she was the 2020-2021 Carnegie Corporation and Rockefeller Foundation Distinguished Research/Creative Scholar. She is also a board committee member for Emotions Matter, a national non-profit organization. She teaches courses on freedom, embodied knowledge, embodied cognition, dance, systemic oppression, ethics, sex, feminism, and Native American Philosophy. In her free time, Shay performs circus arts and races motorcycles.

Event info
Core Enaction Semester 4

27-03-2024 06:00 PM
26-06-2024 08:00 PM
Online: MLE YouTube channel

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