Call for Papers: Enactivism and French Philosophy

Enactivism and French Phenomenology


Enactivism is an influential research field in philosophy of mind, which has dynamically developed and gained a world-wide importance since the early 1990s (Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1991). Although there exist different versions of enactivism (see, Ward et. al. 2017 for an overview), in general it defines cognition in relation to interactions with physical and social surroundings (e.g. Varela et. al. 1991, O’Regan and Noë 2001, Noë 2004, Hutto and Myin 2013, 2017). Originally, enactivism found its origins in cognitive science and phenomenology, in particular in Husserl’s and Merleau-Ponty’s ideas of the embodied consciousness. Yet, despite phenomenology’s influence within the field of enactivism, recent theories of enactivism rarely investigate in depth the works of phenomenologists, and there is in particular still room for an investigation between enactivism and French phenomenologists, such as Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas or Michel Henry. In fact, there exist a number of articles in the secondary literature that connect enactivism to French phenomenology, for example, Wider (2015) on Sartre, De Jaegher (2015) on Henry and Dierckxsens (2018) on Ricoeur. Yet, a special issue dedicated entirely to the relation between enactivism and (French) phenomenology does not exist so far. This is surprising, since enactivism seems especially close to the French branch of 20th century phenomenology, which, following Merleau-Ponty’s idea of “flesh” puts emphasis on the idea that existence is a dynamic embodied interaction with physical and social surroundings.


This issue of The Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy invites contributions that examine the relations between enactivism and phenomenology, in particular the works of 20th century French phenomenologists. The aim of this issue is to examine whether and how enactivism and French phenomenology share theoretical insights or whether they conflict with each other. For example, does enactivism’ critical attitude towards representationalism stand in line with a phenomenological concept of existentialism, understood as a theory of freedom and responsibility based on interactions with culture? And can phenomenology offer certain undeveloped ideas into current enactivist ideas, such as the idea that embodied subjectivity relates to moral agency? This issue invites papers that address these and similar questions by engaging in an in-depth analysis of both enactivism and the work(s) of one or more phenomenologists, in particular French phenomenologists (Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Ricoeur, Henry, Levinas, and others). Although, the main focus of this issue is on French phenomenology, we also welcome papers relating enactivism to other historical developments of phenomenology, for example to Husserl.


If interested in publishing in this issue, please send a full paper on the topic to Geoffrey Dierckxsens ( by December 15, 2019. Papers will be subject to a blind review process. For stylistic instructions, please see the journal’s website: