The Skillful Body as a Concernful System of Possible Actions: Phenomena and Neurodynamics

Theory & Psychology 18 (3):341-361 (2008)
Abstract
For Merleau-Ponty,consciousness in skillful coping is a matter of prereflective ‘I can’ and not explicit ‘I think that.’ The body unifies many domain-specific capacities. There exists a direct link between the perceived possibilities for action in the situation (‘affordances’) and the organism’s capacities. From Merleau-Ponty’s descriptions it is clear that in a flow of skillful actions, the leading ‘I can’ may change from moment to moment without explicit deliberation. How these transitions occur, however, is less clear. Given that Merleau-Ponty suggested that a better understanding of the self-organization of brain and behavior is important, I will re-read his descriptions of skillful coping in the light of recent ideas on neurodynamics. Affective processes play a crucial role in evaluating the motivational significance of objects and contribute to the individual’s prereflective responsiveness to relevant affordances.
Keywords Affordances  Cognitive neuroscience  Emotions  Expertise  Merleau-Ponty  Non-linear dynamic systems theory  Performance monitoring  Context switching  Self-organization  Relevance
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