Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rowlands (2009) on Noë's Enactivism

Although I very often offer criticisms, it is nice to be able to draw attention to points of common ground with others in the EC literature.  In earlier posts, I noted some points of agreement between Rowlands and myself regarding such things as the need for a MotC and a target for the concept of cognition to be studied.  I am in fairly widespread agreement with almost everything in Rowlands (2009), but I want to draw attention to Rowlands' discussion of Noë's enactivism.  This brings out other points of agreement.

Rowlands identifies two distinct claims in Noë's enactivism

Visually perceiving the world is made up of two things: 
(1) Expectations about how our experience of an object will change in the event of our moving, or the object of our vision moving, relative to us (or some other
object moving with respect to that object—for example, in front of it). Noe¨ calls this sensorimotor knowledge or knowledge of sensorimotor contingencies.
When our expectations are correct, this is because we have mastered the relevant sensorimotor contingencies.
(2) The ability to act on the world—i.e., to probe and explore environmental structures by way of the visual modality. (p. 55).
Rowlands also distinguishes two versions of (2).  (2a), we might label it, claims that perceiving only requires an ability, where (2b) claims that perceiving requires the exercise of an ability.  (1) and (2a) come very close to being what I have called "weak enactivism", where (2b) is very close to "strong enactivism" (See my forthcoming "Consciousness: Don't Give up on the Brain" )  It's good to have some agreement on at least some of the options in Noë's view.

Rowlands and I also agree that (1) and (2a) do not support EC (Cf, Aizawa, 2007, pp. 17-18), but get to those conclusions by distinct arguments.  Rowlands and I also agree that (2b) is not very plausible, though we again get there by distinct arguments.
Aizawa, K. (2007). Understanding the Embodiment of Perception. Journal of Philosophy, 104, 5-25.

Rowlands, M. (2009) Enactivism and the Extended Mind, Topoi, 28:53–62.

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