Opening address by Marta Olivetti Belardinelli
at the beginning of this sixth edition of the “International Conference on Spatial Cognition”, which is held in Rome every three years, I first of all want to welcome and thank in my name and in the name of Thomas Hünefeldt and Antonino Raffone, my colleagues in the Presidential Board, the almost 300 attendees to this Conference. In particular, we wish to express our thanks to the Authorities who have come to inaugurate the Conference, i.e. the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Professor Cristiano Violani, the Director of the Department of Psychology, Professor Gabriella Antonucci, the Director of ECONA, Professor Tiziana Catarci, and the Rector of Sapienza University who will greet us at the inaugural buffet.
This year the conference is devoted to Space and Situated Cognition, and is aimed at exploring the links between the multifaceted topic of the cognitive processing of space and an emergent paradigm of Cognitive Science. The Situated Cognition paradigm is highly representative of the multidisciplinary nature of Cognitive Science.
Since all knowledge is bound to social, cultural and physical contexts, Situated Cognition posits that knowing is situated in activity and inseparable from it. Therefore, learning is seen in terms of the individual’s increasingly effective performance across situations rather than in terms of an accumulation of knowledge, since what is known is co-determined by the agent and the context.
In Situated Cognition the mutual relationships of context and content, of the individual and the environment, and of knowing and doing, are understood through the belief that learning is situated and continuously advances through activity in a community of practice (Moss, 2000). Therefore, as described in my book The Construction of Reality (1974), this position allows to overcome the opposition between the nativistic and the empiricist positions, which across centuries gave rise to three levels of problems and related research: “Subject / Object” or mind/body problem, tied to the research about Perception; “Nurture / Culture” or philogenesis versus ontogenesis in the research about Learning; “Person / Technology” and today individual versus world wide web in the new research about Social Evolutionism. In this perspective, there is a reciprocal triadic causation exerted on Collaborative Agency by:
1. Personal factors (cognitive and affective)
2. Behavioural interactions between organisms and (real and virtual) environments
3. Social and technological environments
The plenty of research perspectives that the paradigm of Situated Cognition opens up is one of the reasons for the high adhesion to this Conference on the processing of space, which features:
· 7 Keynote Lectures
· 27 Symposia
· 13 Oral Sessions
· 6 Poster Sessions
At this point I would like to thank the 7 keynote lecturers of this Conference: Yan Bao; William J. Clancey ; Shaun Gallagher ; Vittorio Gallese; Sergei Gepshtein ; Kevin O’Regan; and in particular Barbara Tversky who, despite the very short notice, kindly accepted to replace Susan Goldin-Meadow who could not come for very serious family reasons. I would also like to thank our Scientific Committee that had a hard work reviewing first so many submitted abstracts and then the short papers published, together with the Conference Proceedings, in a Supplement of Cognitive Processing – International Quarterly of Cognitive Science (http://www.springer.com/journal/10339). Finally I would like to thank our Collaborators in the local Organizing Committee who are still hard working to ensure a smooth course of the Conference.
It is our wish that you enjoy this 6th edition of ICSC in Rome.”