Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some Cognitive Science of Dance

Firstly, let me say how excited I am that I finally have something to post on this blog. I've been looking forward to this for weeks!

I've just discovered that John Sutton wrote a paper on possible intersections between cognitive science (particularly dynamical systems theory) and the phenomenology of dance in 2005. It's available from John's site.

John's interested in the overlap or possible exchanges between properly cognitive modes (like planning, making commitments, deliberating etc) and bodily know-how. He writes that
Philosophical or political ideas, wishes, hints and half-remembered dreams, idiosyncratic individual memories, cognitively-loaded emotional states and moods, perceptually-driven assessments of complex cultural situations, and other cognitive processes which are (to varying degrees) more articulable and accessible than is movement itself, can all influence the creation, performance, and enjoyment of dance.

Naturally, this interference cuts both ways, and I don't think I'm stretching his view too far to suggest that it may be through the body that cognition acquires it's interpersonal dimension. After all, where he says:
cognition is interpersonally as well as technologically distributed: we work together with each other in many ways to form temporarily integrated larger systems with cognitive characteristics and abilities which are often quite different from the mere sum of individual capacities,
wouldn't we just say that the tango is a two-headed beast?

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