From sensorimotor dependencies to perceptual practices: making enactivism social

Adaptive Behavior 27 (1):31-45 (2018)
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Abstract
Proponents of enactivism should be interested in exploring what notion of action best captures the type of action-perception link that the view proposes, such that it covers all the aspects in which our doings constitute and are constituted by our perceiving. This article proposes and defends the thesis that the notion of sensorimotor dependencies is insufficient to account for the reality of human perception, and that the central enactive notion should be that of perceptual practices. Sensorimotor enactivism is insufficient because it has no traction on socially dependent perceptions, which are essential to the role and significance of perception in our lives. Since the social dimension is a central desideratum in a theory of human perception, enactivism needs a notion that accounts for such an aspect. This article sketches the main features of the Wittgenstein-inspired notion of perceptual practices as the central notion to understand perception. Perception, I claim, is properly understood as woven into a type of social practices that includes food, dance, dress, music, etc. More specifically, perceptual practices are the enactment of culturally structured, normatively rich techniques of commerce of meaningful multi- and inter-modal perceptible material. I argue that perceptual practices explain three central features of socially dependent perception: attentional focus, aspects’ saliency, and modal-specific harmony-like relations.
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