Call: “Pretense and Imagination from the Perspective of 4E Cognitive Science” issue of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

Call for Papers:

“Pretense and Imagination from the Perspective of 4E Cognitive Science”
Special Issue of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

Guest Editors:

Zuzanna Rucińska, Centre for Philosophical Psychology, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Martin Weichold, Institute for Philosophy, University of Regensburg, Germany

Submission deadline: August 1, 2020

4E Cognitive Science understands cognition as embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended, though the list of “E”’s can be extended to conceiving of cognition as ecological, enculturated and emotional as well. While there are important differences between these approaches, they all agree that there is more to cognition than what goes on in the head: cognition is said to be shaped, structured or even co-constituted by the dynamic interactions between the brain, the body, and both the physical and the social environment. These approaches have been taking cognitive science by storm.

However, 4E Cognitive Science is still relatively silent about higher forms of cognition, such as pretense and imagination. Pretend and imaginative practices include playing with objects ‘as if’ they were another, role playing, make-believe or imaginary friend play, as well as practices that go beyond play, such as storytelling, acting, deceiving, or creating and following institutional rules. One hypothesis on behalf of 4E Cognitive Science is that complex forms of counterfactual imagining and symbolic thinking do not come before, but are rather rooted in bodily forms of pretend play and embodied metaphorical acts. If true, this allows 4E Cognitive Science to be uniquely placed to account for the interactive foundations of pretense and imagination. Yet, the established research is inclined to speak of pretense and imaginative practices as originating from fundamentally individualized, cognitive-representational capacities to imagine, intend, and attend to that which is not immediately present, wholly absent, or nonexistent. These are phenomena for which the 4E Cognition approaches are not tailor-made, and which initially, at least according to the orthodox research tradition, require explanations in terms of traditional, representionalist accounts of cognition.

The purpose of the special issue is to investigate whether or not 4E Cognition approaches to pretense and imagination are workable, or even provide the best explanations of the respective phenomena. We invite contributions addressing the following questions:

  • What does an explanation of phenomena of pretense and imagination by 4E Cognitive Science look like?
  • Can 4E Cognitive Science explain all phenomena of pretense and imagination, or are there specific “high-level” pretend and imaginative phenomena that are difficult for 4E Cognition to explain?
  • Are there aspects of pretend play or imagination that can be explained only, or best, by 4E Cognitive Science?
  • What is the scope and the limit of 4E Cognition’s approach to pretense and imagination?
  • Does the fictional character of imaginary engagements provide a problem for embodied-enactive explanations?
  • Do particular phenomena of pretense and imagination require representing, and if so, what form of representing? Can they be explained by reference to affordances instead?
  • Can there be basic ‘radically enactive’ imagination that is contentless? Is there then also contentful non-basic imagination, and how would basic imagination relate to it?
  • Which cognitive states and behavioral skills are needed in order to develop imaginative skills and creativity? How does the material and social environment affect such development?
  • Can practices of pretend and imaginative play help in the acquisition of other cognitive skills, such as counterfactual reasoning, planning or decision making?
  • What is the relationship between pretend play practices such as role-playing, and cultural and institutional practices where we embody different social roles and follow institutionalized rules?
  • Can 4E Cognitive Science of pretense and imagination be strengthened by interweaving it with resources from phenomenology?
  • Can 4E Cognitive Science be incorporated into empirical investigations that study pretend and imaginative engagements?

We appreciate interdisciplinary contributions from philosophy, psychology, and other fields.

Manuscripts not exceeding 7000 words (excluding abstract and references) should be submitted directly to the journal via the journal website:

Under ‘select article type’ please select “SI: Pretense and Imagination from the Perspective of 4E Cognitive Science”.

For further information, please contact:


One response to “Call: “Pretense and Imagination from the Perspective of 4E Cognitive Science” issue of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences”

  1. Zuzanna Rucinska

    The call for papers will be extended until Monday 14th September, due to requests for extra time, and delays caused by Covid-19.
    However, the submissions can already be received.

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