Discursive Habits: a Representationalist Re-reading of Teleosemiotics

Synthese (5-6):14751-14768 (2021)
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Enactivism has influentially argued that the traditional intellectualist ‘act-content’ model of intentionality is insufficient both phenomenologically and naturalistically, and minds are built from world-involving bodily habits – thus, knowledge should be regarded as more of a skilled performance than an informational encoding. Radical enactivists have assumed that this insight must entail non-representationalism concerning at least basic minds. But what if it could be shown that representation is itself a form of skilled performance? I sketch the outline of such an account from the perspective of Peirce’s pragmatist semiotics, which theorises signs as habits of associating specific cues with appropriate acts and schemas of ensuing experience. Within this framework, I argue, a naturalistic account of propositional structure can be constructed which transcends the symbolic – and in some instances even the linguistic – sphere, and offers new insights regarding the Information Processing Challenge, and the Hard Problem of Content.

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Cathy Legg
Deakin University


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