Research in Philosophy

I am a philosopher of cognitive science, specialized in enactive or embodied cognition. My niche is the philosophy of skillful unreflective action.

Skillful unreflective action is a young, broad domain with lots of potential because of its significance for cognitive science and progress on fundamental issues in philosophy such as intentionality, context-sensitivity, normativity, and freedom. I have published on all of these topics in international philosophy journals. At the bottom of the page you will find selected publications.


My perspective on skilled action has also opened up a new avenue for philosophical and translational research on architecture, via an (NWO-VENI funded) embedded project at architecture, art & research studio RAAAF. This allowed me to develop an affordance-based philosophical perspective on the potential of reusing vacant buildings, which is an urgent societal issue in The Netherlands. My work on everyday skillful action is also relevant for the under investigated topic of the way the built environment can promote more active workspaces, life styles and sustainable health.

Rietveld Unreflective Action 2008

Annother novel field of research opened up by my work on skillful unreflective action is the phenomenology of patients with Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a pioneering project that is unique in the world. This short BBS-commentary article sketches its significance for understanding the relation between mind and world, context-sensitivity and the philosophy of social cognition.


Figure 1: Through skilled intentionality one gets a grip on a field of affordances. Sketch of conceptual framework to be refined (Rietveld, 2013; Bruineberg & Rietveld, 2014, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience; inspired by: Thompson, 2007, 2011; Chemero, 2003, 2009; Dreyfus, 2007; Tschacher & Haken, 2007; Rietveld, 2008a/b/c).

My focus for the next few years

The aim of my most recent research plans is showing how my understanding of embodied cognition as skilled responsiveness to the many affordances available in our surroundings also sheds light on skilled ‘higher-level’ cognition and reflection in action, which are important open issues in enactive embodied cognition. I will also continue the development of my enactive or embodied approach to architecture.

Read more at the Introduction page of this website.

Selected publications (see my pages on architecture and DBS for more articles)

Rietveld, E. (2022). Change-Ability for a World in Flux. Adaptive Behavior.
doi: 10.1177/10597123221133869

Rietveld, E. & Kiverstein, J. (2022). Reflections on the genre of philosophical artinstallations. Adaptive Behavior. doi: 10.1177/1059712321989428

Rietveld, E. (2022). The affordances of art for making technologies. Adaptive Behavior. doi: 10.1177/10597123221132898

Novak, A., Van Lierop, G., & Rietveld, E. (2022). Engaging with art skillfully. First stepstowards an ecological-enactive account ofthe experience of art. Adaptive Behavior. doi: 10.1177/10597123221133

Kolvoort, I. & Rietveld, E. (2022). Affordances for Situating the Embodied Mind in Sociocultural Practice. In: Djebbara, Z. (eds) Affordances in Everyday Life. Springer, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-031-08629-8_2

Martens, J., Rietveld, R., & Rietveld, E. (2022). A conversation on collaborative embodied engagement in making art and architecture: Going beyond the divide between ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ cognition. In K. Bicknell & J. Sutton (Eds.) Collaborative Embodied Performance: Ecologies of Skill (pp. 53–68). London, Methuen Drama.

Miller, M., Kiverstein, J., & Rietveld, E. (2021). The Predictive Dynamics of Happiness and Well-Being. Emotion Review. 2022;14(1):15-30. doi:10.1177/17540739211063851

Kiverstein, J. & Rietveld, E. (2021). Skilled we-intentionality: Situating joint action in the living environment. Open Research Europe. doi: 10.12688/openreseurope.13411.2

Kaaronen, R. O. & Rietveld, E. (2021). Practical lessons for creating affordance-based interventions for sustainable behavior change. One Earth. doi: 10.1016/j.oneear.2021.09.013

Bruineberg, J., Seifert, L., Rietveld, E. & Kiverstein, J. (2021). Metastable attunement and real life skilled behaviour. Synthese. doi: 10.1007/s11229-021-03355-6

Kiverstein, J., Rietveld, E., & Denys, D. (2021). World Wide Open. Aeon.

Van den Herik, J.C. & Rietveld, E. (2021). Reflective Situated Normativity. Philosophical Studies. doi: 10.1007/s11098-021-01605-4

Van Westen, M., Rietveld, E., Van Hout, A., Denys, D. (2021). Deep brain stimulation is no ON/OFF-switch’: an ethnography of clinical expertise in psychiatric practice. Phenomology and the Cognitive Sciences. doi: 10.1007/s11097-021-09732-3

Van Dijk, L. & Rietveld, E. (2021). Situated Talking. Language Sciences 87,
101389. doi: 10.1016/j.langsci.2021.101389.

Van Dijk, L., & Rietveld, E. (2020). Situated Imagination. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

Van Westen, M., Rietveld, E., Bergfeld, I.O., de Koning, P., Vullink, N., Ooms, P., Graat, I., Liebrand, L., van den Munckhof, P., Schuurman, R. and Denys, D. (2020), Optimizing Deep Brain Stimulation Parameters in Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder. Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface.

Kiverstein, J. & Rietveld, E. (2020). Skill-based engagement with a rich landscape of affordances as an alternative to thinking through other minds. Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS).

Kiverstein, J., Miller, M. & Rietveld, E. (2020). How mood tunes prediction: A neurophenomenological account of mood and its disturbance in major depression. Neuroscience of Consciousness.

Rietveld, E., & Martens, J. (2020). Anticipatie, affordances en het brein bij vaardig handelen. In Denys, D. & Meynen G. (eds). Het tweede handboek psychiatrie en filosofie. Amsterdam: Boom uitgevers, pp. 123-138.

Van Westen, M., Rietveld, E., and Denys, D. (2019), Effective Deep Brain Stimulation for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Requires Clinical Expertise. Front. Psychol. 10:2294.

Bruineberg, J. & Rietveld, E. (2019) What’s Inside Your Head Once You’ve Figured Out What Your Head is Inside Of. Ecological Psychology. doi: 10.1080/10407413.2019.1615204

Rietveld, E. (2019) The Affordances of Art for Making Technologies. Inaugural lecture at the University of Twente, Socrates Chair, April 18 2019.

Kiverstein, J., Rietveld, E., Slagter, H. A., & Denys, D. (2019). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Pathology of Self-Confidence? Trends in Cognitive Sciences. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2019.02.005

Kiverstein, J., van Dijk, L., & Rietveld, E. (2019). The field and landscape of affordances: Koffka’s two environments revisited. Synthese, 1-18. doi:10.1007/s11229-019-02123-x

Van Dijk, L. & Rietveld, E. (2018) Situated Anticipation. Synthese.

Bruineberg, J., Rietveld, E., Parr, T., Van Maanen, L. & Friston, K.J. (2018) Free-energy minimization in joint agent-environment systems: A niche construction perspective Journal of Theoretical Biology.

Kiverstein, J. & Rietveld, E. (2018) Reconceiving representation-hungry cognition: An ecological enactive proposal Adaptive Behavior, doi: 10.1177/1059712318772778

Bruineberg, J., Rietveld, E. & Chemero, T. (2018) General ecological information supports engagement with affordances for ‘higher’ cognition Synthese, doi: 10.1007/s11229-018-1716-9

Rietveld, E., Denys, D. & Van Westen, M. (2018) Ecological-Enactive Cognition as Engaging with a Field of Relevant Affordances: The Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF), in Newman et al (eds.) Oxford Handbook for Embodied Cognitive Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Rietveld, E., Rietveld, R. & Martens, J. (2017) Trusted strangers: social affordances for social cohesion Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, doi: 10.1007/s11097-017-9554-7

Rietveld, E. & Rietveld, R. (2017) Hardcore Heritage: Imagination for Preservation Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01995

Kiverstein, J., Miller, M. & Rietveld, E. (2017) The feeling of grip: novelty, error dynamics, and the predictive brain. Synthese doi: 10.1007/s11229-017-1583-9

De Haan, S., Rietveld, E., Stokhof, M. & Denys, D. (2017) Becoming more oneself? Changes in personality following DBS treatment for psychiatric disorders: Experiences of OCD patients and general considerations PLoS ONE 12(4). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175748

Kiverstein, J., Rietveld, E. & Denys, D. (2017) Could closed-loop Deep Brain Stimulation enhance a person’s feeling of being free? AJoB, American Journal of Bioethics 8(2), pp. 86–87

Van Dijk, L. & Rietveld, E. (2017) Foregrounding Sociomaterial Practice in Our Understanding of Affordances: The Skilled Intentionality Framework. Frontiers in Psychology (vol. 7: 1969) doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01969

Bruineberg, J., Kiverstein, J.D. & Rietveld, E. (2016) The anticipating brain is not a scientist: The free-energy principle from an ecological-enactive perspective. Synthese. doi:10.1007/s11229-016-1239-1

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

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

De Haan, S., Rietveld, E., Stokhof, M. & Denys, D. (2015) Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation on the lived experience of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients: In-depth interviews with 18 patients. PLoS ONE 10(8), pp. 1-29. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135524.

Rietveld, E., Rietveld, R., Mackic, A., Van Waalwijk van Doorn, E., Bervoets, B. (2015), The End of Sitting, Harvard Design Magazine 40, pp. 180-181.

Kiverstein, J. & Rietveld, E. (2015) The Primacy of Skilled Intentionality: On Hutto & Satne’s The Natural Origins of Content. Philosophia 43 (3). (PDF)

Rietveld, E. & Kiverstein, J. (2014) A rich landscape of affordances. Ecological Psychology 26 (4), pp. 325-352.

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.

De Haan, S., Rietveld, E. & Denys, D. (2014) Stimulating good practice: What an EEC approach could actually mean for DBS practice. American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 5 (4), pp. 46-48.

Frijda, N., Ridderinkhof, K.R., & Rietveld, E. (2014) Impulsive Action: Emotional Impulses and their control. Frontiers in Psychology 5 (518), pp. 1-9.

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.

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, E. (2013), Affordances & unreflective freedom, in Moran, D. & Thybo Jensen, R. (eds.) Embodied Subjectivity. New-York: Springer.

De Haan, S, Rietveld, E. & Denys, D. (forthcoming), Being free by losing control: What Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can tell us about free will. In Glannon, W. (ed.) Neuroscientific and Philosophical Perspectives on Free Will. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Haan, S., Rietveld, E. & Denys, D. (forthcoming), On the nature of obsessions and compulsions, in Baldwin, D.S. & Leonard, B.E. (eds.) Trends in Pharmacopsychiatry: Anxiety Disorders. To be published by Karger.

Kiverstein, J. & Rietveld, E. (2012), Dealing with context through action-oriented predictive processingFrontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 3 (421), pp. 1-2.

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. (2012), Context-switching and responsiveness to real relevance, in Kiverstein, J. & Wheeler, M. (eds.) Heidegger and Cognitive Science: New Directions in Cognitive Science and Philosophy. Basingtoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 105-135.

Rietveld, E. & Rietveld, R. (2011), Designing spontaneous interactions, OASE – Architecture Journal 85, pp. 33-41.

Rietveld, E. (2011), Bekwaam handelen zonder reflectie, in Denys, D & Meynen, G. (eds), Handboek Psychiatrie en Filosofie. Utrecht: De Tijdstroom, pp. 161-173.

Rietveld, E. (2010), McDowell and Dreyfus on unreflective action. Inquiry 53 (2), pp. 183-207.

Rietveld, R. & Rietveld, E. (2010)  Dutch Atlas of Vacancy. With graphic design by Studio Joost Grootens. Rotterdam: NAI.

Rietveld, E. (2010), Alledaags handelen zonder na te denken, ANTW 102 (4), pp. 245-253.

Klaassen, P., Rietveld, E. & Topal, J. (2010), Inviting complementary perspectives on situated normativity in everyday life. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (1), pp. 53-73.

Rietveld, E. (2008), Situated normativity: The normative aspect of embodied cognition in unreflective action. Mind 117 (468), pp. 973-1001. doi: 10.1093/mind/fzn050

Rietveld, E. (2008), The skillful body as a concernful system of possible actions: Phenomena and neurodynamics. Theory & Psychology 18 (3), pp. 341-363.

Rietveld, E. (2008), Unreflective Action. A Philosophical Contribution to Integrative Neuroscience. University of Amsterdam Dissertation. Amsterdam: ILLC-Dissertation Series DS-2008-05.

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