Unreal Nature

July 21, 2018

This Is Not Trivial

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:40 am

… This picture of mind to be abandoned has dominated mainstream philosophical and scientific thinking …

This is from the Preface to Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content by Daniel D. Hutto and Erik Myin (2013):

Catching a swirling leaf, finding one’s way through unfamiliar terrain, attending and keeping track of another’s gaze, watching the sun rising at the horizon — the vast sea of what humans do and experience is best understood by appealing to dynamically unfolding, situated embodied interactions and engagements with worldly offerings.

Where we find such familiar activity we find basic minds. But, we propose, the nature of the mentality in question is not underwritten by processes involving the manipulation of contents, nor is it, in itself, inherently contentful.

… As things stand, there is great resistance even to the mere suggestion that the prominent forms of basic mentality of the sort that we discuss (which include human visual experience) might lack content. To many this is counterintuitive and plainly false.

… Let us be clear. In pressing for REC [Radical Enactive (or Embodied) Cognition], we do not say that CIC [Content Involving Cognition] is never true. We do not say that cognition is never informed by or never involves content. We have no truck with that claim. We are not advancing Really Radical Enactive or Embodied Cognition as a thesis about the nature of all minds.

[line break added] Some cognitive activity — plausibly, that associated with and dependent upon the mastery of language — surely involves content. Still, if our analyses are right, a surprising amount of mental life (including some canonical forms of it, such as human visual experience) may well be inherently contentless.

[line break added] If true this is not trivial, since such forms are often taken to definitively imply the existence of representational content. If REC is true, then CIC’s picture of basic minds must be surrendered completely. This picture of mind to be abandoned has dominated mainstream philosophical and scientific thinking, in one way or another, since the days of Descartes, Hobbes, and Locke.

To be continued.

-Julie

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