Carnegie Mellon University

Zhiguo (Jonathan) Huang

Adviser: Wayne Wu
Major: Cognitive Science

Grounding Perception In Action: A Critical Redevelopment Of The Enactivist Thesis

Enactivism is the term applied to a family of theories in explaining mind and cognition. These theories emphasize the role of action, largely conceived as involving movements of the body, in constituting mental faculties like perception, cognition, and subjective experiences. This thesis will contribute to the discussion by reviewing the ongoing enactivist project. It will examine the ambivalence and shortcomings of this movement and aim for a critical redevelopment of the enactivist view. The argument will draw on philosophical discussions on the explanatory role of representation and on intentional action. Empirical studies concerning the biological and neural basis of action and cognition will also be used. This project is interdisciplinary and intends to bring together expertise from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience.


Huang loves to think about fundamental questions regarding the human mind, including intention, agency, and consciousness. He believes that these topics call for an interdisciplinary approach from the cognitive sciences. His studies in cognitive science and philosophy have prepared him to further his research interest in philosophy PhD programs. Outside of classes, he enjoys learning new languages, visiting museums, and playing board games, and he will be teaching a class on Japanese mahjong in the fall.