[-empyre-] Cognition and Andrew Murphie

Michele Barker M.Barker at unsw.edu.au
Sun Sep 21 13:48:29 EST 2008

First up, I'll take a (small) bite of Andrew's post!

In discussing post-cognitive models, Andrew suggests that:

> At the same time, this works out strangely in the arts, where it
> sometimes seems to be that neuroaesthetics, as a new discipline, can
> attempt to naturalize - via modeling - precisely that which is
> designed to allow - via sensation - for the creating of new
> transversal links. These links disrupt given diagrams of experience:
> in short, they denaturalize models .. I have called this elsewhere,
> perhaps somewhat pretentiously, the "shattering of aesthetic syntax",
> so that for example, the assumed order of events in the Kantian model
> of the sublime is turned on its head by actual aesthetic events.

I have to say that this, for me, goes to the core of what I believe is  
so interesting in this field. Personally, I quite like the concept of  
"shattering the aesthetic syntax" as it suggests that visual processes  
are only one aspect of this process (i.e., the combinatorial  
relationship between creating and experiencing).  Noë argues that we  
need to consider perception from an enactive position rather than  
assuming that it is a 'process of the brain', a position that I  
believe allows the process of experiencing - and here I am referring  
to art - in a potentially more interesting way ie unlocking  and  
recombining, for example, old ways of thinking about relations between  
movement and vision and challenging those sensorial relations and  
hierarchies (and I think here of Alan and Paul's work), of sound,  
touch, movement and yes, vision. Further, I suspect it goes to what  
Anna points to in terms of a 'distribution' of mind-brain.

- Michele

On 20/09/2008, at 2:23 PM, Anna Munster wrote:

> Hi Andrew and everyone,
> wow...mega-post! I don't know that I can engage with everything  
> you've written at once but something that I think is important to  
> draw out and seems to be resonating through this discussion is the  
> question of models, which you've so insightfully and multifariously  
> raised.
>> Where does neuroscience fit in? Well it seems to me that, despite the
>> influence of Varela and others on cognitive philosophy, neuroscience
>> has far from a comfy fit with a lot of cognitive science and
>> philosophy, precisely because of the different kind of
>> empiricism-model relation involved. So I am becoming very interested
>> in the way in which neuroscience, especially contemporary
>> neuroscience, even as it tries to pack data and theories back into  
>> the
>> cognitivist cage, seems to question much of what was given in the
>> frameworks of cognitive science, psychology and philosophy.
> I think this is a really interesting point - the points at which the  
> implications of neuroscience go beyond the actual framework or model  
> being deployed. This framework might be cognitive (ie the dominance  
> of mental representations) or it might be neuro-empirical (ie the  
> base of neurons firing off etc) and yet so much of what is 'found'  
> in neuroscientific studies can imply a kind of distribution of both  
> mind and brain at once such that 'brain-mind' is now everywhere and  
> anywhere (in the stomach for example) and most definitely not 'in'  
> either a mental representation nor a place in the brain.
> But I also think how far one takes these kind of implications within  
> neuroscience or without - by other cultural theorists, artists etc   
> – depends upon what kind of a neuroscientist ( or artist etc) one  
> is! Lucette has spoken of the extent to which a scientist might be  
> prepared to question their own methodology - an extremely important  
> point. What is also of importance are the intersections of neurology  
> with other scientific disciplines. So, for example, one of the most  
> interesting neurologists writing today, is, I think, Steven Rose,  
> whose scientific  and medical background is also biochemistry. What  
> this lends to his neurology is a really interesting way of thinking  
> through, for example, metabolic pathways as processes nested within  
> or intersecting with neurological events. Hence we get a kind of  
> double systemic view of embodied processes and events at a really  
> molecular (and here I mean both scientific and Guattarian) level. He  
> also happens to be a very good writer who can translate complex  
> scientific ideas and terminology into ideas for people like me who  
> have no scientific background! So we start to get a much more  
> complex understanding of the processes involved in sensing,  
> perceiving and cognition than the rather simplified and clunky  
> models of straight cognitive psychology or even locative neuro- 
> empiricisim
> But there is something also important in a person/thinker like Rose.  
> And that is his politics. Which of course is also a question of  
> models or as you have suggested, Andrew, of remodeling or non- 
> modeling. So because Rose is completely aware of the implications of  
> his deployment of models for how we might understand contemporary  
> life and culture (so he is anti-reductionist for one and also deeply  
> anti-racist) he is able to really think through the vital political  
> importance of complexity, of not reducing thought or 'the body' to  
> either brain or mind and of what happens when one does (ontological  
> determinism).
> I remember hearing Steve Kurtz ( from Critical Art Ensemble) saying  
> once that he wasn't the least bit interested in whether scientists  
> and artists actually had anything to offer each other's disciplines.  
> What he believed was important in science-art collaboration was  
> whether you shared a 'political' project with each other and that if  
> you did, the alliance between science and art could become very  
> powerful. I think more shared political projects between artists and  
> scientists on the basis of complexifying our ways of thinking about  
> brains, bodies, thinking, sensing and perceiving are what is  
> important right now,
> cheers
> Anna
> Dr.Anna Munster
> Senior Lecturer
> School of Art History and Theory
> College of Fine Arts
> P.O. Box 259
> Paddington
> NSW 2021
> 612 9385 0741 (tel)
> 612 9385 0615(fax)
> a.munster at unsw.edu.au
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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