Friday, July 16, 2010

Malafouris on transforming the "Handaxe Enigma" 2

Just to emphasize the fact that Malafouris is not using EC to resolve the handaxe enigma, we have additional text that shows that he is, instead, interested in putting on the table a kind of enactivist theory of intentional states. 

I want to argue that the 'handaxe enigma' embodies much more than a simple question about what precise goal the knapper pursues. ...  In other words, it is not simply a problem about the precise content of the knapper's 'intentional states', e.g. a cutting instrument vs a symmetric cutting instrument. It is instead a problem about the actual nature, location and constitution of these intentional states in human cognitive evolution. ... But the key issue underlying the hand axe enigma is not about whether humans in the Stone Age were producing one sort of intentional states rather than another. The issue does not lie in deciding between a core and a blade. The key issue, rather concerns, on the one hand, the question of how humans - in contrast to what we see in other animals - came to possess this special property that we call 'intentionality', and, on the other hand, the question of how and when humans became aware of the intentional character of their actions and of the actions of others. The unique challenge that the 'handaxe enigma' poses to the archaeology and philosophy of mind lies precisely in thinking about when and how this explicit understanding emerges. (Malafouris, 2010, pp. 16-17).
Now, it is true that the issue of how humans came to possess intentionality is a large and important one and it may be true that the handaxe enigma may presuppose human intentionality, but Malafouris' contention notwithstanding it really does seem to be a debate over which intentions early humans had.  It is not about whether they had them (or maybe it is, given some ways in which Malafouris sets up the debate).  Nor is it about what it is for early humans to have had intentions.  It is about which intentions they had.

Or, if Malafouris is right, I don't see what reason he has given for his take on what the issue really is.

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