Narrative, meaning, interpretation: an enactivist approach [Book Review]

After establishing its roots in basic forms of sensorimotor coupling between an organism and its environment, the new wave in cognitive science known as “enactivism” has turned to higher-level cognition, in an attempt to prove that even socioculturally mediated meaning-making processes can be accounted for in enactivist terms. My article tries to bolster this case by focusing on how the production and interpretation of stories can shape the value landscape of those who engage with them. First, it builds on the idea that narrative plays a key role in expressing the values held by a society, in order to argue that the interpretation of stories cannot be understood in abstraction from the background of storytelling in which we are always already involved. Second, it presents interpretation as an example of what Di Paolo et al. ( 2010 ) have called in their recent enactivist manifesto a “joint process of sensemaking”: just like in face-to-face interaction, the recipient of the story collaborates with the authorial point of view, generating meaning. Third, it traces the meaning brought into the world by interpretation to the activation and, potentially, the restructuring of the background of the recipients of the story
Keywords Narrative  Sensemaking  Interpretation  Enaction
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9216-0
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Martin Stokhof (2002). Meaning, Interpretation. In D. Beaver & P. Scotto di Luzio (eds.), Words, Proofs, and Diagrams. CSLI Publications 217-240.
Brian Weatherson (2013). The Role of Naturalness in Lewis's Theory of Meaning. Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 1 (10).
Jacob Howland (2005). Storytelling and Philosophy in Plato's Republic. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 79 (2):213-232.

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