restricted access 18. Movies and the Mind: On Our Filmic Body
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18 Movies and the Mind: On Our Filmic Body Recent approaches in embodied, embedded, enactive, extended, and affective (4EA) cognitive science1 argue that mental activity is best understood as relational: the mind is constituted by ongoing interactions between the organism and its environment and understanding the nature of those relations is therefore the main task of a science of the mind. The mind also is “integrative” in the sense that the tools we use and the environmental scaffoldings we enjoy co-constitute those relations (Menary 2007). One central idea of 4EA cognition is that the mental states that supervene on these relations are dependent upon context and are malleable to a certain extent. Theories focusing on cultural influences on the mind, on the other hand, have stressed cultural variations of our mental states due the influence of society and social groups (Prinz 2012) and have emphasized the enculturation of cognition and skills that can, for example, be shown by the way “patterns of practice” of a society or group correlate with certain perceptual discrimination abilities and neural response patterns (Roepstorff , Niewöhner, and Beck 2010; Hutchins 2011). The cultural impact on decision processes, mental states, the organization of our brains, and patterns of neural activity also encompasses the influence of material artifacts (as opposed to, e.g., social artifacts) of a society, including the products of popular culture and artworks with which our lifeworld is so replete. In this chapter, our focus will be on a very recent and rather pervasive kind of such an artifact : film, or more precisely, edited moving images,2 and we will assess in what way film could figure in an embodied framework of the mind. Joerg Fingerhut and Katrin Heimann 1. These approaches are sometimes thought to be largely complementary, and sometimes as yielding incompatible background theories or even incompatible assumptions with respect to the nature of the mind (Hutto and Myin 2013). It is not our aim here to assess the conceptual relation between them (but see Ward and Stapleton 2012; Fingerhut 2014 and the discussion in section 2 of the present chapter) or even to remap the field. We rather want to apply some of their claims to an understanding of how cultural artifacts and especially edited film bears on our mental states. 2. For convenience we will use “film” and “moving images” interchangeably, although the latter constitutes a generic term for more specific media references as “film,” “video,” “TV,” etc. (Carroll 1996, xii). Some peculiarities of the medium, as well as the environmental context of viewing (e.g., movie theater vs. tablet), promote different psychological effects, yet the phenomena we address are by and large applicable to moving images more generally. 354 J. Fingerhut and K. Heimann Given that the average American citizen now spends one-fifth of her lifetime engaging with real and fictional worlds via moving images (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014), we need a deeper understanding of how this medium influences our habits of perceiving, thinking , and feeling.3 4EA cognitive science has already made ample reference to interactions between organisms and technologies (such as virtual realities or sensory substitution devices); yet film has largely been neglected. Here we will argue that an embodied approach to film can deepen our understanding of this medium, while at the same time providing the necessary means to understanding how film has already altered our embodied habits of perceiving and experiencing. Film is often thought to be a media experience that is closer to real-world interaction than, for example, texts or static images (Bazin 1967; Kracauer 1960). In cognitive film theory researchers have argued that film’s ability to affect us has its roots in a trend, established early on, of hiding its medial quality, which is grounded in the filmmakers’ knowledge of our bodily habits in everyday perception. Adapting the presentational characteristics of film to such perceptual and bodily habits can be useful when it comes to improving film’s technical means of involving the moviegoer, and film thus progresses in concealing the differences between film perception and the perceptual routines we apply in the extrafilmic world (Bordwell , Staiger, and Thompson 1985). It has therefore been suggested that filmic narrative devices, such as montage and specific camera techniques, have been developed “to match our cognitive and perceptual proclivities” by, for example, making use of the natural dynamics of attention and other structural features of human perception (Cutting and Candan 2013, 27; see also Cutting 2005; Carroll and Seeley...