Pamela Lyon and Fred Keijzer present an interesting extension of sense making in their 2007 article. Sense making is a term found at the core of enactive based approaches. Broadly speaking these approaches are a reinterpretation of the traditional psychological approaches to cognition, with a more embodied ideal at their core. In Lyon’s and Keijzer’s article they attempt to extend the existing sense making infrastructure to the social domain.
Social factors are, of course, a massive influence on all of us. The social however is a very difficult thing to quantify and perhaps even escape; even in our isolation we are impacted by the social through thoughts of others and indeed even some thoughts themselves. Lyon and Keijzer put forth a sort of spectrum. On this spectrum individual sense making falls on one end and joint, or communal, sense making falls on the other.
However, humans, as ever, are problematic. To suggest that animals do not produce art is to perhaps overstep a conceptual mark. However, art is certainly a higher order aspect of human social interaction. Art is unique also in terms of the previously discussed spectrum. Art is the primary bond of mediation between the external world of the senses and the medium of pure thought and understanding. The artist imbues a piece with meaning and it is this meaning that the viewer attempts of extract. In terms of this spectrum art acts as a unique point; art moves sense making from the individual straight to another individual but still serves as a form of joint sense making in that there are a number of parties involved. Also, it is perhaps only through a viewer giving meaning to a piece does an art piece inherit meaning.
This is an interesting aspect of the human experience. Primarily it suggests that the biogenic approach to cognition is perhaps the most useful in understanding cognition as a general process present across life forms. Starting at a point as unique as human cognition is perhaps unwise when attempting to gain insight into the general cognitive processes. Further to this, and with a great deal more speculation, art may be a manner through which we can examine a unique juncture in this social sense making spectrum.