Next Call For Participation in the 4th Conference on "Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind" 2023

The next call will be published here in February 2022


Deadline for abstract submission: 15/11/2021

Title: “Being Moved to Interest”: Interestingness, Emotions and 4E Cognition.

In his work “Story Processing as an Emotion Episode”, Ed Tan (1994) considers interest to be an anticipatory emotion. According to Tan (1994), interest consists of an inclination to further elaborate the stimulus in anticipation of the final interpretation of the text. More precisely, the author remarks that interest contributes to leading the reader to include into the final interpretation of a text the emotion-laden anticipation or narrated event he/she encounters while reading a story. In other words, interest is the emotion that is considered to cause attention to focus on a narrated event or, in more general terms, on events and objects. Fredrickson (2001) describes interest as the feeling when “something new or different draws your attention, filling you with a sense of possibility.” It is the emotion we feel when we're drawn to “explore” and the sensation of being “utterly fascinated.” It is acknowledged that interest is both a psychological state of attention and affect toward a particular object or topic, and an enduring predisposition to reengage over time. Promoting interest can contribute to a more engaged, motivated, learning experience in education, for example (Harackiewicz et al. 2016). Being in a state of interest means that affective reactions, perceived values, and cognitive functioning intertwine, and that attention and learning feel effortless (Dewey, 1913). What exactly is deemed to be of interest is a challenging question. In his contribution “Interestingness: Controlling Inferences”, computer scientist Roger Schank (1979) remarks that when readers find something in a text which is unusual they recognize it as being interesting and pay attention to it. Schank goes a step further and points out that the mental pathway the reader follows to understand a story is controlled by interestingness. In general, interestingness is directly proportional to abnormality. Thus, the more features of a given situation deviate from normally expected features in that situation, the more interesting the situation becomes. In fields like literary studies in which scholars work on the interaction between the text and its stylistic devices and the reader the foregrounding theory as well as the notion of deviation by Russian Formalism can be combined with Schank’s work to investigate interest as an anticipatory emotion in readers (Scarinzi 2008). The question of what determines interest in readers while reading a text of literary art is a particularly intriguing question. In his study, Schraw (1997) shows that “multiple aspects of literary texts are interesting to readers, and that interest is related to personal engagement variables, even when it is not related to the comprehension of main ideas.”

More than forty years later, Schank's remarks on interestingness have become an important field in data mining research as well. Measuring interestingness in data mining is intended for selecting and ranking patterns according to their potential interest to the user (Geng & Hamilton 2006).

Despite studies about the role of the body in cognition, affectivity and emotions, research on interest and interestingness still neglects the role of the embodied, embedded, extended, enacted and affective mind (4E cognition with embodied affectivity). Also, the advancement of research on embodied and enactive emotions (Colombetti 2013) and the relation between movement and emotions (“e-motions”) according to which emotion emerges as a specific form of bodily directedness towards the valences and affordances of a given situation in the engagement with the environment that has affect-like properties (Fuchs & Koch 2014) have not been taken into account.

This call aims at focusing on the question of how 4E Cognition combined with the enactive and embodied approach to emotions can contribute to developing an approach to interest that focuses on the fact that the human being is “moved to interest” and does not need any computation to experience it.

We welcome contributions (single author or co-authored) investigating the following topics:

· Interest – The History of a Cross-Disciplinary Keyword

· John Dewey’s view on interest in education and learning

· Interest and (Affective) Affordances

· Virtual Bodies, Virtual Reality, the Self and Interest

· The Relation between Interest and Habits or the Perturbation of Habits

· Interest in the Flesh: Cognitive Linguistics, Language and Embodied Sense-Making

· Interest and Literary Text Comprehension: Insights from Research on Reader Response and the Embodied Mind

· The Notion of “Interest” in Sociology and the Role of the Embodied Mind

· Interest and The Embodied Aesthetic Mind

· Data Mining and Interestingness: Making Predictions. The User’s Embodied Mind

· Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Investigate Interest: 4E Cognition and Interesting Experiences

If you are interested to contribute, send your abstract (max. 500 words with three main references) not later than 15th November 2021 to alfonsina.scarinzi[at] or to alfonsinascarinzi[at]


Colombetti, G. (2013). The Feeling Body. Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind. MIT Press.

Dewey J. (1913). Interest and Effort in Education. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Fredrickson B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. The American Psychologist, 56(3), 218–226.

Fuchs, T. & Koch S. (2014). Embodied Affectivity. On Moving and Being Moved.

Geng, L. & Hamilton, H. (2006). Interestingness measures for data mining: A survey. ACM Computing Surveys. Volume 38, Issue 32

Harackiewicz, J. M., Smith, J. L., & Priniski, S. J. (2016). Interest Matters: The Importance of Promoting Interest in Education. Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences, 3(2), 220–227.

Scarinzi, A. (2008). Evoking Interest, Evoking Meaning: The Literary Theme and the Cognitive Function of Stylistic Devices. In G. Watson (ed.), The State of Stylistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 137 – 153. (PALA Papers)

Schank, R. (1979). Interestingness: Controlling Inferences. Artificial Intelligence, 12, 3, 273 –297.

Schraw, Gregory (1997). Situational Interest in Literary Text. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, 4, 436 – 456.

Tan, Ed (1994). Story Processing as an Emotion Episode. In H. Oosterndorp & R. A. Zwaan (eds.), Naturalistic Text Comprehension, Norwood, N. J.: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 165 – 185.

Alfonsina Scarinzi, PhD

Senior Researcher and Visiting Professor

CA Institute for Advanced Studies

CY Cergy Paris Université (France)

Testing Embodied Cognition: 1st Workshop (A. Scarinzi)


1st Workshop: “Meaningful Relations” – Meeting the iCub Robot: Human-Robot-Interaction”

Speaker: Alessandra Sciutti (ERC Project Whisper; iit – istituto italiano di technologia di Genova – Italy)

When: 14th November 2019

Where: Uni Göttingen, Germany

The embodied mind or embodied cognition thesis appeals to the idea that cognition deeply depends on aspects of the agent's body other than the brain. Embodied cognitive science aims to understand the full range of perceptual, cognitive, and motor capacities we possess, cognition in the broad sense, as capacities that are dependent upon features of the physical body. According to Varela et al. (1993), Di Paolo et al. (2010), Fuchs (2018), embodiment means that mind is inherent in the precarious, active, normative, and worldful process of animation. This means that the body is not a puppet controlled by the brain but a whole animate system with many autonomous layers of self-constitution, self-coordination, and self-organization and varying degrees of openness to the world that create its sense-making activity.

According to embodied cognition, a baby, for example, learns many cognitive skills by interacting with its environment and other humans, using its limbs and senses. Consequently, its internal model of the world is largely determined by the form of the human body. The embodied approach to cognition was tested within the iCub project. The iCub is a humanoid robot that allows cognitive learning scenarios to be acted out by an accurate reproduction of the perceptual system and articulation of a small child so that it could interact with the world in the same way that such a child does. In other words, it is believed that human-like manipulation plays a vital role in the development of human cognition.

Within this workshop, we would like to discuss the argument that the motor system influences our cognition and the question of how embodied cognition can be tested. The iCub project will be one of the topics.

More precisely, we look for cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary contributions (not only from philosophy and the cognitive sciences but from all disciplines) dealing with

- the sensorimotor approach to consciousness (sensorimotor contingency theory)

- the mirror neuron system, representations, and embodied simulation

- the mirror neurons as neural resonance system and the brain

- HCI and the embodied approach to emotions

- participatory sense-making and HCI

Contributions from all disciplines are welcome.

Please send your proposal (300 words) to the organizer and scientific coordinator: Alfonsina Scarinzi, Dr. phil not later than 20th August 2019.


Reevaluating Aesthetics. Towards Enactive Aesthetics (PI: Dr. A. Scarinzi)


Deadline for submission: 12th June 2019 (CLOSED)

3rd Conference on Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind

29th - 30th August 2019

GAUG Göttingen - Germany

Confirmed Keynotes:

P. Määttänen - (University of Helsinki) - Body-Language Continuity via Non-linguistic Meanings

A. Schiavio - (University of Graz) - From Action to Musical Experience. A ‘4E' Proposal.

M. Tessarolo - (University of Padova) - Continuity between subjective and objective feeling as a push for creativity and sociality

A. Grieser - (Trinity College Dublin) - Visioneering Future Beings – Transhuman subjectivities in the light of an Aesthetics of Religion

J. Lindblom (School of Informatics - University of Skövde, Sweden) - On the nature of aesthetic and emotionally embodied experience in sense-making practices

A. Scarinzi (University of Goettingen - Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind Project) - Neither Art Theory Nor Neuroaesthetics, Neither Umbrella Term Nor Buzzword: What Does "Enactive Aesthetics" Mean?

"Feeling Sense-Making, Enacting Meaning: The Lived Unity of an Experience and the Mind-Body-Language Continuity"

The aim of this conference is to put into focus the role of embodied cognitive-emotional and linguistic sense-making in our being sensitive to multiple domains of meanings in the sensorimotor and social interaction with the environment.

In enactive cognitive science, bodily sense-making is the feel of the cognitive-emotional qualitative dimension of an adaptation to environmental factors the organism interacts with and has a participatory character in social interaction. Recent studies in neuroscience and philosophy of mind (Fuchs 2018; Di Paolo et al. 2018) highlight the role of the subjective and intersubjective embodied evaluation of sense-making in experiencing the bodily conditions of meaning constitution in social interaction and in the constitution of shared reality in our sensorimotor engagement with the world. Moreover, they support the view that human experience relies on mind-body-language continuity. Human embodiment involves a special kind of autonomy acquired via incorporation of linguistic habits of sense-making we become sensitive to. We are sensitive to multiple registers and domains of meaning at once when we co-determine and make sense of the environment and of the interaction with the others.

This conference highlights the enactive relation between subjectivity, intersubjectivity and sensorimotor coupling with the environment in the constitution of an experience. According to John Dewey, an experience has a unity. The existence of this unity is constituted by a single quality that pervades the entire experience in spite of the variation of its constituent parts. The capacity of experience to mean and to become an experience is realized through a consummatory process of bodily sense-making and completes itself. Such an experience is aesthetic for it conveys a feeling of wholeness.

The submission of contributions that highlight enactive sense-making in the lived process of meaning generation in experiencing interactions and the embodied quality of an experience is encouraged.

The conference welcomes contributions from the following disciplines:

Artificial Intelligence and human cognition



Literary studies

Music and the Cognitive Sciences



Philosophy of emotion

Philosophy of mind

Psychology of aesthetics

Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) not later than 12th June 2019 to alfonsinascarinzi[at]


Dr. Alfonsina Scarinzi



Bottineau, D. (2012). Remembering Voice Past: Languaging as an embodied interactive cognitive technique. E.I. Pivovar. Conference on Interdisciplinarity in Cognitive Science Research, Apr. 2012, Moscou, Russia. Moscow: RGGU [Russian State University for the Humanities], 194-219

Di Paolo, E.A., Cuffari, E. C., De Jaegher, H. (2018). Linguistic Bodies. The Continuity between Life and Language. MIT Press

Thomas Fuchs (2018). Ecology of the Brain (International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry), OUP

Alfonsina Scarinzi (ed.) (2015), Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind: Beyond Art Theory and the Cartesian Mind-Body Dichotomy, Contributions to Phenomenology, Vol. 73, Springer Science+Business Media, Dordrecht

Schiavio, A., van der Schyff, D., Cespedes-Guevara, J. & Reybrouck, M. (2017). Enacting musical emotions. Sense-making, dynamic systems, and the embodied mind. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 16(5), 785-809

Steiner, P. (2014). Enacting anti-representationalism. The scope and the limits of enactive critiques of representationalism, AVANT, 2, 2014, 43 – 86

John T. Haworth - New Beginning