Marta Caravà, Ph.D.
Caravà, M. (Forthcoming). Enactive Memory. In Lucas Bietti & Martin Pogacar (eds.). Palgrave Encyclopedia of Memory Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Uncorrected proof available upon request.
Caravà, M. (2022). Are forgotten memories literal experiences of absences? Episodic forgetting and metacognitive feelings. Acta Scientiarum. Human and Social Sciences, 43, e61021 (Special Issue in the Philosophy of Memory, ed. by André Sant’Anna).
In a nutshell: Are occurrent states of forgetting literal experiences of absences? I situate this question within the debate on mental time travel (MTT) to understand whether these states can be explained as literal experiences of absent episodic memories. To frame my argument, I combine Barkasi and Rosen’s literal approach to MTT with Farennikova’s literal approach to the perception of absences, showing that both are built on the idea that for an experience to be literal it must afford an unmediated contact with the object that constitutes it. I test the idea that forgetting affords literal experiences of mnemonic absences by considering different views of absence perception and I evaluate whether the objections raised against Farennikova’s approach also apply to my exploratory idea. I show that, while the idea resists the objections that an advocate of a cognitive approach to mnemonic absences may raise, the same does not apply to those elaborated by advocates of a metacognitive approach. Even if conceiving of occurrent states of forgetting as literal experiences of mnemonic absences sounds appealing, this idea is misleading. Therefore, I suggest conceiving of occurrent states of forgetting as states with metacognitive features, which track the absence of episodic memories from awareness in an affectively mediated way.
Caravà, M. (2021). An exploration into enactive forms of forgetting. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 20, 703-722.
In a nutshell: Intuitively forgetting seems to entail the loss of contents stored in memory (e.g., mental representations of past experienced events, semantic information, etc.). Radical enactivists claim that memory does not store contents or mental representations and provide an account of remembering that accommodates this non-archival intuition about memory. Can enactivists do a similar thing with forgetting? I claim that they can. By combining empirical results from the cognitive (neuro)science of memory with the key principles of radical enactivism, I explain forgetting as an active process involving neural, bodily and environmental resources. I argue that the outcome of this process is not the loss of representational contents but the inability to re-enact past experienced events via mental simulations.
On objects and emotions
Caravà, M., & Scorolli, C. (2020). When affective relation weights more than the mug handle: Investigating affective affordances. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 1928.
In a nutshell: Philosophers of embodied and situated cognition have provided convincing explanations of what objects do in affective processes (e.g., in emotion regulation). They have often used the concept of 'affective affordance' to account for the affective role of objects but it is not clear how this concept relates to other concepts of affordance, in particular those used in empirical works in cognitive science. We start to fill this gap by providing a new definition of affective affordances and we suggest a possible way to test this novel theoretical construct through a kinematic analysis of hand movements.
This article is available open-access in this special issue on enaction and ecological psychology edited by Ezequiel di Paolo, Anthony Chemero, Manuel Heras-Escribano and Marek McGann. You can also check this poster for a shorter version of the idea.
On enactivism and pragmatism
Caravà, M. (2020). La proposition expressiviste de Steiner et l’énactivisme. Divergences et convergences. European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, 12(1): 1–10.
The article and Pierre Steiner's response to my objections are available here.
On (non-)representationalist approaches to perception
Caravà, M. (2019). The threshold of representations. Integrating semiotics and the cognitive Sciences. VS, 128(1): 157–174.
In a nutshell: I assess the conditions that philosophers of mind usually use to identify mental representations. I argue in favor of a minimal definition of mental representation, which is similar to definitions endorsed by some philosophers of embodied cognition. I claim that, even if we endorse this minimal definition of mental representation, important aspects of perception cannot be explained in representational terms. Therefore I suggest endorsing a non-representational approach to perception made of a combination of the enactive approach and ecological psychology and claim that perception is a direct relation to opportunities for action offered by perceptual niches.
Caravà, M. (2018). Une rencontre entre la philosophie et la sémiotique de Peirce, l’énactivisme et l’esprit étendu. Interrogations, 27.
In a nutshell: I argue against approaches to perception that endorse action-oriented representations and argue in favor of a direct approach to perception like that endorsed by enactivists. The article is available here.
On the extended mind and language
Caravà, M. (2014). La nozione di ‘mente estesa’ tra scienze cognitive, semiotica e pragmatismo. Alcune riflessioni a partire dal tema del linguaggio. Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, Special Issue: 139–151.
In a nutshell: I extend the extended explanation of language provided by extended mind theorists by reworking the concept of material symbol. The article is available here.
Dr. Marta Benenti and I engaged in a translation project 0f Deleuze's courses on Foucault and his conception of power (translation from French to Italian). Our translation has been published as a book: Gilles Deleuze, Il Potere. Corso su Michel Foucault (1985˗ 1986)/2. Verona: Ombre Corte (2018).
Title: The Problem of Representation between Extended and Enactive Approaches to Cognition
Abstract: Recent works in philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences draw an ‘unconventional’ picture of cognitive processes and of the mind. Instead of conceiving of cognition as a process that takes place within the boundaries of the skull and the skin, some contemporary theories claim that cognition is a situated process that encompasses the human agent’s boundaries. In particular, the Extended Mind Hypothesis (EMH) and the Enactive approach to cognition claim that embodied action is constitutive of cognitive processes, and thus of the mind.
Although both theories give an ‘extended’ or ‘extensive’ picture of cognition and of the mind, they disagree on the epistemic value of internal representations. The EMH claims that we need to posit internal action-oriented representations (AORs). AORs would account for action-selection, action-control, and for the prediction of incoming perceptual information. The enactive approach to cognition argues against AORs. The concept of AOR does not fulfill the representational conditions necessary to talk about representations properly. Furthermore, AORs are expressive of an internalistic prejudice, which makes the EMH weak. Moreover, a semiotic analysis of AORs shows that these items called ‘representations’ are not active at all. Hence, the epistemic posit of AOR plays no interesting job in the project of extending the mind in virtue of a reassessment of the concept of representation aimed at making it embodied and active.
Therefore, I claim that the concept of AOR must be rejected. Action- control, action-selection, and the anticipation of aspects of action-perception loops can be explained in a more enactive way. Embodied action in a field of affordances explains how agents respond selectively to environmental features and how action-perception loops are anticipated by the ‘affective agent’. Furthermore, the enactive approach to cognition –especially if it is combined with a semiotic description of cognitive niches and with some insights from the affective sciences (e.g., the appraisal of core relational themes)– gives an explanation of action that, in contrast to the EMH, is actually able to extend the mind.