Read today’s interview with the national Dutch newspaper Volkskrant here:
Read today’s interview with the national Dutch newspaper Volkskrant here:
Built Explorations of the Future (“Gebouwde toekomstbeelden”), lecture in Dutch, together with Ronald Rietveld. Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam. June 30, 2017
Disability and Skilled Intentionality, lecture at the “Phenomenology and the Body – Contemporary Perspectives” symposium. Nordic Society for Phenomenology, Trondheim, Norway. June 16, 2017
An Ecological-Enactive Approach to Language in Conversation (together with Julian Kiverstein), lecture at “Getting Real About Words and Numbers” symposium, Erasmus University, Rotterdam. June 12, 2017
The Skilled Intentionality Framework for understanding ‘higher’ collaborative embodied skill, lecture at the “Distributed Cognitive Ecologies of Collaborative Embodied Skill” symposium. Senate House, Institute of Philosophy, London. May 26, 2017
Complementarity of Art & Science, lecture at NIAS-KNAW, Amsterdam. May 18, 2017
Hardcore Heritage, lecture at ‘Het Klaslokaal’ series at De School, Amsterdam. March 29, 2017
Neurophenomenology and Deep Brain Stimulation, lecture at ‘What is Happening to our Brain’ (Studium Generale), Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. March 15, 2017
Trusted Strangers, presentation for the City of Amsterdam. February 14, 2017
Breaking Habits, presentation and installation at the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam. January 1, 2017.
Situating the embodied mind in a landscape of affordances: RAAAF at work, lecture at “The Psychology of Space” symposium, Delft University of Technology, Delft. November 11, 2016
Dealing with the relevance problem in the Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF) (together with Julian Kiverstein), lecture at the Computational Cognitive Science (CCS) lab, Radboud University, Nijmegen. November 11, 2016
Embodied Cognitive Science, lecture at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. October 20, 2016
Interdisciplinary research: Situating the embodied mind in a landscape of affordances, lecture at the “Recalibrating Excellence” symposium. Rathenau Institute, KNAW, Utrecht. October 10, 2016
Trust and uncertainty in OCD: Before and after DBS (together with Julian Kiverstein), lecture at Symposium on Matthew Ratcliffe, department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam. November 22, 2016
Intentionality in social coordination: The case of making architecture (together with Jelle Bruineberg), lecture for ‘Skilled Action as a Complex System: Affordances and Social Coordination’ satellite workshop, part of Conference on Complex Systems (CCS), Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam. September 21, 2016
The future of the artist’s archive: the case of RAAAF, lecture at the Boekmanstichting, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences, Amsterdam. September 16, 2016.
Recently Ronald and Erik Rietveld were inaugurated as members of the Society of Arts at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), which promotes cross-fertilization between the sciences and the arts. Other artists at this Academy are Anton Corbijn, Arnon Grunberg, Barbara Visser, Heddy Honigmann, Iris van Herpen, Jaap van Zweden, Louis Andriessen, Pierre Audi, Paul Verhoeven, read more...Below you will find a video of our inauguration speech at the KNAW (in Dutch) and an English translation of our text.
Inauguration speach by Ronald & Erik Rietveld at KNAW, d.d. April 1, 2016.
“For us this is a great honor! The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), where the arts and the sciences meet, has invited us to become members as a duo; a duo that operates at the intersection of architecture, visual art and philosophy.
What you see here is a philosophical worldview. Philosophers normally make a world in words, typically in books without pictures. This is a materialized and experiential translation of my philosophical research at the University of Amsterdam. It is a landscape of affordances. Affordances are the possibilities for action that the environment offers us. Your seat affords you to sit on it, a book affords reading, etc. The installation that we built offers many opportunities for supported standing, leaning and hanging, and invites you to frequently switch positions and postures throughout the day. This installation also represents my position within the philosophy of the cognitive sciences. Cognition is not something that takes place purely in our heads. Cognition is made possible and supported by the affordances available in our human ecological niche.
What you see here is a spatial thinking model. This dissected monument represents our way of thinking and working. The work:
– breaks through existing conventions,
– breaks through indestructible structures,
– breaks though different disciplines, and
– breaks though past and present, looking for new meaning in the future.
This installation, which we provocatively named The End of Sitting, is also a vision on the office of the future, of 2025. It explores what a world without chairs and tables might look like. In the coming years we would like to make more of these visual explorations of the future. This fits perfectly with what has become both a tradition of the KNAW as well as a strategic priority of the scientific part of the Academy, namely the making of future explorations. However, there is an important difference. The foresight studies to be made here at home have typically been written reports. What we want to do is start from our own fascinations and make imagination central to our foresight in a visual way. We would like to build foresight; to materialize thinking models. By building our visions on the future we make them tangible and sensible to people. We call these visions that we build at the intersection of visual art and architecture, “architectural art installations” or, ‘bouwkunst’ in Dutch (literally translated as building-art).
More than ever, the field of architecture needs new types of ‘bouwkunst’:
– A ‘bouwkunst’ that goes beyond the pragmatism and efficiency thinking of today.
– A ‘bouwkunst’ that develops new spatial thinking models.
– There is a need for a ‘bouwkunst’ that encourages new radical experiments, free from conventional constraints.
In short, working from within the KNAW, we wish to dedicate ourselves to making architectural art installations that show society new vistas.”
The installation Vacant NL – RAAAF’s contribution to the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010 – is in great company in this piece on Architizer: Lebbeus Woods, Antonio Gaudi, Jorn Utzon, Tadao Ando, Yuraka Sone and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe amongst others.
The brain embedded in a rich landscape of affordances. Talk at symposium ‘Worlding the Brain’, University of Amsterdam (UvA), March 17, 2016.
Materializing a philosophical worldview. Inauguration speech as member of The Society of Arts, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Trippenhuis, Amsterdam, April 1, 2016.
Beyond the borders of philosophy and architecture? (in Dutch), Philosophy Cafe, Cafe Trianon – Berg en Dalseweg 33, Nijmegen, April 5, 2016.
Guest lecture on ‘Wittgenstein’s relevance: Perspectives for cognitive science’, University of Amsterdam, Department of Philosophy, April 8, 2016.
Situating the Embodied Mind in an Unorthodox Landscape of Affordances. Invited lecture at workshop ‘Orders and disorders of spatial experience’, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Memphis, April 16, 2016.
Guest lecture on interdisciplinary work in embodied cognitive science. MSc Brain & Cognitive Science, May 3, 2016.
Member assessment committee, PhD dissertation ‘A horizontal attitude: Gibsonian psychology and an ontology of doing’, Ludger van Dijk, University of Antwerp, May 9, 2016.
The Skilled Intentionality Framework for ‘higher’ embodied cognition: How our ecological niche scaffolds skilled intentionality in architecture. Invited talk at workshop ‘Moving cognition beyond its basic ecology’, University of Antwerp, May 10, 2016.
Invited talk on ‘The End of Sitting’ at the Netherlands Association of Human Movement Sciences (VvBN), Public and Occupational Health, VUmc, Amsterdam, May 18, 2016.
Affordances for language use in enactive cognition (together with Julian Kiverstein), talk at the 1st International Conference on Language and Enaction, Clermont-Ferrant, France, June 1-3, 2016.
The Hospital of 2025. Invited RAAAF-session at conference ‘Building the Future of Health: Game Changing Concepts for Healthy Aging‘, with Ronald Rietveld & David Habets, Groningen University, UMCG, June 3, 2016.
The University of 2025. Invited talk at Jonge Academie, KNAW, Symposium on Reinventing Universities. Landgoed Zonheuvel, Doorn. June 3, 2016.
The annual ‘New Leonardo Lecture’, invited lecture ‘Situating the Embodied Mind’ at Honours programme, Dept. of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, June 17, 2016.
Washington University, studio visit at RAAAF, June 29, 2016.
End of year lecture. ArtEZ, Zwolle – “Exploring the World of Affordances”- June 30, 2016.
Invited talk at workshop Aesthetics and the 4E Mind, University of Exeter, July 4-5, 2016.
City Scapes Gallery, lecture on Hardcore Heritage, Marineterrein Amsterdam, July 7, 2016..
Ecological information for “higher cognition” (together with Jelle Bruineberg). Talk at European Workshop on Ecological Psychology (EWEP 14) Groningen. July 8, 2016.
Satelite workshop ‘Skilled Action as a Complex System: Affordances and Social Coordination’, Conference on Complex Systems, University of Amsterdam, September 21 2016.
Rathenau/CWTS, invited lecture on interdisciplinary research. Utrecht. October 13, 2016.
Invited talk at Enactive Seminars Online (ENSO seminar), December 1 (t.b.c.)
Academic journal Sports Medicine publishes two articles on The End of Sitting made by RAAAF | Barbara Visser. The papers are part of a special issue titled “Designing environments to enhance physical and psychological benefits of physical activity: A multi-disciplinary perspective”.
The paper by Withagen & Caljouw investigates empirically how people experience The End of Sitting landscape. The other article, by Erik Rietveld, touches upon the philosophy behind the landscape and the process of making it.
Rietveld, E. (2016) Situating the embodied mind in landscape of standing affordances for living without chairs: Materializing a philosophical worldview. Journal of Sports Medicine. Doi: 1007/s40279-016-0520-2
Withagen R. & Caljouw R.S. (2015) The End of Sitting: An empirical study on working in an office of the future. Journal of Sports Medicine. Doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0448-y
I am thrilled to announce that I have been awarded an ERC Starting Grant for a large five year philosophical research project on affordances and skilled action!
My project is titled: “Skilled Intentionality for ‘Higher’ Embodied Cognition: Joining forces with a field of affordances in flux.”
Many thanks to the colleagues and friends who gave feedback on my draft proposal and presentation as well as all the co-authors on the different articles that have laid the foundation for this new step!
Read a summary of the project here:
Skilled Intentionality for ‘Higher’ Embodied Cognition: Joining forces with a field of affordances in flux
It is often assumed that the increasingly influential paradigm of embodied/enactive cognitive science (Chemero, 2009; Noë, 2012; Thompson, 2007; Di Paolo, Rohde,& De Jaegher, 2013) has sensible things to say about so-called ‘lower’ cognition (say grasping a glass or riding a bike), but not about ‘higher’ cognition (say using creative imagination or comforting a sad friend). It is thought that embodied/enactive cognitive science can deal only with the immediately present environment but not with the absent or the abstract, such as for example a plan for a new building. I believe these dichotomies are largely artificial (Rietveld & Brouwers, forthcoming).
Much of what others have characterized as ‘lower’ cognition and ‘higher’ cognition, can actually be regarded as skilled activities (Ingold, 2013; Noë, 2012) situated in socio-cultural practices (Wittgenstein, 1953; Rietveld, 2008a, Mind). I seek an account of such situated skilled activities that is more unified than the dichotomy it replaces. These skilled activities are best understood as responsiveness to affordances. Affordances are possibilities for action provided to us by the environment (Gibson, 1979; Chemero, 2009; Reed, 1996; Costall, 1995; Heft, 2001). I have suggested that affordances are also significant for cases of ‘higher’ cognition (Rietveld & Kiverstein, 2014; Rietveld, 2008a; Klaasen, Rietveld & Topal, 2010; see also Rietveld & Brouwers, forthcoming, for ethnographic observations that support this idea.).
If we want to understand the relation between mind and world, skilled intentionality is crudial (Rietveld, 2013; Bruineberg & Rietveld, 2014), because it is the kind of intentionality that characterizes most of the things individuals do in everyday human life, in skilled animal actions (Ingold, 2001) and in expert activities. I have defined skilled intentionality as the simultaneous coordination with multiple affordances (Rietveld, 2013; Bruineberg & Rietveld, 2014; Kiverstein & Rietveld, 2015; Rietveld & Brouwers, in press). It is not an exceptional type of cognition, but the norm.
Since 2006 I have collaborated intensively with architects in their practice to develop a deep understanding of their skilled activities (Rietveld, 2008a; Rietveld et al., 2014; Rietveld & Brouwers, forthcoming; Rietveld et al., 2015, Harvard Design Magazine), and with psychiatrists working on Deep Brain Stimulation treatment to understand how patients experience a breakdown of everyday skillful unreflective action (Rietveld, De Haan & Denys, 2013, BBS). Based on these collaborations I have developed the two central ideas behind my ERC Starting Grant-project:
The overarching aim of my philosophical ERC-project for the next five years is to develop an affordance-based conceptual framework of what I will refer to as skilled intentionality. This Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF) will significantly extend the scope of embodied/enactive cognitive science (Thompson, 2007; Chemero, 2009; Noë, 2012; Di Paolo et al., 2010; Hutto & Myin, 2012), integrating both ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ cognition. My ambitious longer term (year 2025) aim is to investigate if, starting from our improved definition of affordances, it is possible to understand the entire spectrum of things that people do skillfully in terms of one conceptual framework, that of selective engagement with multiple affordances simultaneously (i.e. the SIF).
The Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF)
In a series of papers I have together with the people in my VIDI-research group indicated how such responsiveness to affordances can be analyzed at multiple levels: philosophical/phenomenological, ecological/biological, affective, and neural (Rietveld, 2008a/b, 2010, 2014; Rietveld & Kiverstein, 2014; Frijda, Ridderinkhof & Rietveld, 2014; Rietveld, De Haan & Denys, 2013; De Haan, Rietveld, Stokhof & Denys, 2013; Bruineberg & Rietveld, 2014). The results are promising and we are now in a position to take the next step: linking the different fields of research and investigating multiple time-scales.
All sorts of activities – both actions in everyday life and episodes of expertise – are forms of skilled engagement with the environment and can be understood in terms of responsiveness to relevant affordances. A central idea in my approach is that the landscape of affordances that surrounds us is much richer than is generally assumed. This central idea stems from of a new Wittgensteinian interpretation of Gibson’s (1979) notion of affordances (Rietveld & Kiverstein, 2014; cf. Chemero, 2009). I argue for a definition of affordances as relations between (a) aspects of the (socio)material environment in flux, and (b) abilities available in a ‘form of life’ (Wittgenstein, 1953), which includes socio-cultural practices in our human ecological niche. The resourcefulness of the landscape of affordances in this niche has everything to do with the wide variety of both the environmental aspects and the abilities and practices we have for engaging with our environment.
Traditionally in philosophy and cognitive science, so-called ‘higher’ cognitive capacities have been associated more with types of rationality and decision-making tied to language, than with unreflective action. This has left the characteristic phenomenon of context-sensitive intuitive expertise unexplained (Varela, 1992/1999; Haselager & Van Rappard, 1998; Mesquita et al., 2010; cf. Wheeler, 2005). Crucially, the Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF) makes it possible to apply findings that were thought to be exclusively valid for everyday skillful unreflective action to skillful ‘higher’ cognition, including linguistic and reflective activities, which can also be analyzed as skilled responsiveness to a rich landscape of affordances.
Figure: Sketch of SIF, the framework to be developed. Skilled intentionality is the tendency towards grip on a field of relevant affordances in flux. Numbers refer to the different (sub)projects to be carried out. Note that level of the ecological niche (the landscape of affordances on the left) is related to the active individual and her states of bodily action readiness (on the right) via the phenomenological notion of the field of relevant affordances (in the middle of the figure). Adapted from Rietveld, 2013; Bruineberg & Rietveld, 2014.
A central idea behind my research over the last decade has been that a person typically tends towards an optimal grip (Merleau-Ponty, 1945/2002; Dreyfus, 2005; Dreyfus & Kelly, 2007; Rietveld, 2008c, 2012, 2013) on the various relevant affordances encountered in a particular situation. To a person with the necessary skills, Jelle Bruineberg and I (2014) have suggested, a relevant affordance generates a state of bodily ‘action readiness’ (cf. Frijda, 2007). We can understand the tendency toward an optimal grip on the situation as the tendency toward an optimal metastable attunement to the dynamics of an environment in flux (Bruineberg & Rietveld, 2014; cf. Hristovski, Davids, and Araujo, 2009; Freeman, 2000). This optimal readiness to switch rapidly between behavioral patterns is both functional with respect to the demands of the environment and the needs or concerns of the organism in the particular situation. In the ERC project the research team will show and develop SIF’s relevance for contextualizing Karl Friston’s (2011; 1997) work on the metastable and anticipating brain, and apply it in the domain of enactive architecture and public health in collaboration with the multidisciplinary practice RAAAF [Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances].
The Skilled Intentionality Framework is innovative in integrating several carefully developed concepts that together succeed in relating findings established at several complementary levels of analysis: philosophy/phenomenology, ecological psychology, affective science and neurodynamics. Relevant affordance related states of action readiness are of central importance in this framework. Empirical findings on affordance responsiveness thought to be exclusively valid for everyday unreflective action can now be used to explain skilled ‘higher’ cognition as well. Moreover, SIF brings both the context and the social back into cognitive science in a fundamental way, namely via the notion of the landscape of affordances in which our actions are situated. SIF will radically widen the scope of the increasingly influential field of embodied/enactive cognitive science.
Bruineberg, J. & Rietveld, E. (2014) Self-organization, free energy minimization, and optimal grip on a field of affordances. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8 (599), pp. 1-14.
Chemero, A. (2009), Radical Embodied Cognitive Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Costall, A. (1995), Socializing affordances. Theory & Psychology 5 (4), pp. 467-481.
Davids, K., Araújo, D., Hristovski, R., Passos, P., & Chow, J. Y. (2012), Ecological dynamics and motor learning design in sport. In N. H. Mark Williams (Ed.), Skill acquisition in sport: Research, theory & practice. London: Routledge, 2nd ed., pp. 112-130.
De Haan, S., Rietveld, E., Stokhof, M. & Denys, D. (2013). The phenomenology of deep brain stimulation-induced changes in OCD: an enactive affordance-based model. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7 (653), pp. 1-14.
Di Paolo, E.A., Rohde, M., & De Jaegher, H. (2010), Horizons for the enactive mind: Values, social interaction, and play. In Steward, J., Gapenne, O. & Di Paolo, E.A. (eds.), Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 33-87.
Dreyfus, H.L. (2008), Why Heideggerian AI failed and how fixing it would require making it more Heideggerian. In Husbands, P., Holland, O. & Wheeler, M. (eds), The Mechanical Mind in History. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 331-71.
Dreyfus, H.L. & Kelly, S.D. (2007), Heterophenomenology: Heavy-handed sleight-of-hand. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (1-2), pp. 45-55.
Freeman, W.J. (2000), How Brains Make Up Their Minds. New York: Columbia University Press.
Frijda, N.H. (2007), The Laws of Emotion. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Frijda, N.H., Ridderinkhof, K.R. & Rietveld, E. (2014), Impulsive action: emotional impulses and their control. Frontiers in Psychology 5 (518), pp. 1-9.
Friston, K.J. (1997), Transients, metastability, and neuronal dynamics. Neuroimage 5 (2), pp. 164-171.
Friston, K.J. (2011), Embodied inference.In Tschacher, W. & Bergomi, C. (eds.), The Implications of Embodiment (Cognition and Communication). Exeter: Imprint Academic, pp. 89-125.
Gibson, J.J. (1979), The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Lifflin.
Haselager, W.F.G. & Van Rappard, J.F.H., (1998), Connectionism, Systematicity, and the Frame Problem. Minds and Machines 8 (2), pp. 161-79.
Heft, H. (2001), Ecological Psychology in Context: James Gibson, Roger Barker, and the Legacy of William James’s Radical Empiricism. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hristovski, R., Davids, K. W., and Araujo, D. (2009), “Information for regulating action in sport: metastability and emergence of tactical solutions under ecological constraints,” in D. Araujo et al. (eds.), Perspectives on Cognition and Action in Sport. Hauppauge: Nova Science, 1st Ed., pp. 43–57.
Hutto, D. & Myin, E. (2012), Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds Without Content. Cambrige: MIT Press.
Ingold, T. (2013), Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. New York: Routledge.
Kiverstein, J. & Rietveld, E. (forthcoming 2015) The Primacy of Skilled Intentionality: On Hutto & Satne’s The Natural Origins of Content. Philosophia 43 (3).
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1945/2002), Phenomenology of Perception (Smith, C., trans.). London: Routledge.
Mesquita, B., Barrett, L.F. & Smith E.R. (2010), The Mind in Context. London: Guilford Press.
Noë, A. (2012). Varieties of presence. Harvard University Press.
Reed, E. S. (1996), Encountering the world: Toward an ecological psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rietveld, E. (2012), Bodily intentionality and social affordances in context, in Paglieri, F. (ed.) Consciousness in Interaction. The Role of the Natural and Social Context in Shaping Consciousness. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins, pp. 207-226.
Rietveld, E. (2013). Skilled intentionality for ‘higher’ cognition. unpublished lecture at conference. The Reach of REC, Antwerp, June 18th 2013.
Rietveld, E. & Brouwers, A.A. (2016) Optimal grip on affordances in architectural design practices: An ethnography. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, doi: 10.1007/s11097-016-9475-x See also this earlier post.
Rietveld, E. & Kiverstein, J. (2014). A rich landscape of affordances. Ecological Psychology 26 (4), pp. 325-352.
Rietveld, E., De Haan, S. & Denys, D. (2013). Social affordances in context: What is it that we are bodily responsive to? Invited commentary article on Leo Schilbach et al. BBS, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, p. 436.
Rietveld, R., Rietveld, E., Zoeteman, M. & Mackic, A. (eds.) (2014), Vacancy Studies: Experiments & Strategic Interventions in Architecture. Rotterdam: nai010 Publishers. (Find three open access chapters here.)
Thompson, E. (2007), Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind. Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Varela, F.J. (1992/1999), Ethical Know-How: Action, Wisdom, and Cognition. Stanford: SUP.
Wheeler, M. (2005), Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1953), Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.