Pragmatism, enactivism, and ecological psychology: towards a unified approach to post-cognitivism

Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):337-363 (2019)
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Abstract

This paper argues that it is possible to combine enactivism and ecological psychology in a single post-cognitivist research framework if we highlight the common pragmatist assumptions of both approaches. These pragmatist assumptions or starting points are shared by ecological psychology and the enactive approach independently of being historically related to pragmatism, and they are based on the idea of organic coordination, which states that the evolution and development of the cognitive abilities of an organism are explained by appealing to the history of interactions of that organism with its environment. It is argued that the idea of behavioral or organic coordination within the enactive approach gives rise to the sensorimotor abilities of the organism, while the ecological approach emphasizes the coordination at a higher-level between organism and environment through the agent’s exploratory behavior for perceiving affordances. As such, these two different processes of organic coordination can be integrated in a post-cognitivist research framework, which will be based on two levels of analysis: the subpersonal one and the personal one. If this proposal is on the right track, this may be a promising first step for offering a systematized and consistent post-cognitivist approach to cognition that retain the full potential of both enactivism and ecological psychology.

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