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  • Writer's pictureIan

Enaction and Enactive Dao

Let's explore the relationship between Enactive Dao and the concept of Enaction in depth.

Enaction, as developed by Francisco Varela and his colleagues, is a theoretical framework that underscores the intertwined nature of mind, body, and world. It proposes that cognition isn't a mere representation of an external world but arises from active and embodied interactions with the environment.


This perspective aligns closely with the principles of Enactive Dao. Daoism has always emphasized the unity of body and mind, and Enactive Dao extends this unity to encompass our engagement with the world around us. It is through our embodied actions in the world – our "enaction" – that we come to understand and be in harmony with the Dao.


For instance, the principle of Engaged Practice in Enactive Dao reflects the enactive view of cognition. Enactive Dao proposes that understanding Dao is not an intellectual exercise but a way of living and being in the world. It is through active engagement with our environment – through walking, meditating, working, helping others, etc. – that we come to embody Dao. This aligns with the enactive view of cognition as arising from our embodied interactions with the world.


Similarly, the principle of Embrace of Change and Flow in Enactive Dao resonates with the enactive understanding of cognition as a dynamic process. Just as our understanding of the world evolves through our ongoing interactions with it, so does our alignment with Dao evolve as we flow with the changing circumstances of life.


Furthermore, the enactive emphasis on embodiment echoes the Enactive Dao principle of Integration of Body and Mind. Enaction proposes that our minds aren't separate from our physical bodies but are fundamentally shaped by our embodied experiences. In a similar vein, Enactive Dao encourages practices that cultivate a holistic integration of body and mind, such as mindful movement or meditation.


Therefore, the concept of enaction provides a valuable theoretical complement to the principles of Enactive Dao. It emphasizes the dynamic, embodied, and interactive nature of cognition, resonating deeply with the Enactive Dao understanding of an integrated life in harmony with the flow of existence.

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