Rich or lean? A phenomenological alternative for explaining early social cognition

Stefano Vincini, Valentina Fantasia


Abstract: In philosophy and cognitive science, the tension between cognitivism and the 4E-Cognition approach is both deep and polarizing. A lack of serious engagement with the theoretical and empirical work generated by the opposing framework seems problematic on both sides. In this paper, we closely discuss data on early socio-cognitive development produced by an influential nativist current of thought in the cognitivist paradigm. We consider these data from the point of view of a 4E-Cognition perspective called “the pairing hypothesis”, which originates in phenomenological philosophy. We show that a close examination of these cognitivist-nativist data strengthens the phenomenological 4E-Cognition perspective by significantly expanding the range of findings it can account for. By addressing the debate between rich and lean explanations in early social cognition, we corroborate the idea that careful interaction between cognitivism and the 4E-Cognition approach can lead to progress in cognitive science.

Keywords: Development of Social Cognition; Cognitivist Nativism; Direct Social Perception; Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences; Action Production and Perception

Spiegazioni ricche o parsimoniose? Un’alternativa fenomenologica per lo sviluppo della prima cognizione sociale

Riassunto: Un’accesa e radicale tensione nelle scienze cognitive è quella tra il cognitivismo e il cosiddetto approccio delle quattro E (Embodied, Enactive, Embedded e Extended). La mancanza di una riflessione aperta e sostanziale sul lavoro teorico ed empirico proposto dall’approccio opposto appare problematica da entrambe le parti. Il presente contributo analizza a fondo le evidenze empiriche presentate da una delle maggiori correnti innatiste del paradigma cognitivista nello studio dello sviluppo socio-cognitivo. Queste evidenze sperimentali vengono esaminate dal punto di vista della “ipotesi dell’appaiamento”, ipotesi inserita nel quadro della prospettiva teorica 4E e che proviene dalla filosofia fenomenologica. Il presente contributo mostra come una considerazione approfondita dei dati generati dal cognitivismo innatista può rafforzare il potere esplicativo della prospettiva fenomenologica 4E, ampliandone in misura significativa la gamma di evidenze scientifiche che essa può contribuire a spiegare. Affrontando il dibattito sullo sviluppo della prima cognizione sociale tra spiegazioni ricche e parsimoniose, viene corroborata l’idea che un’attenta interazione tra cognitivismo e approccio 4E può essere un modo per far progredire le scienze cognitive.

Parole chiave: Sviluppo della cognizione sociale; Innatismo cognitivo; Percezione sociale diretta; Fenomenologia e scienze cognitive; Produzione e percezione di azioni

Parole chiave

Development of Social Cognition; Cognitivist Nativism; Direct Social Perception; Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences; Action Production and Perception

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