The lived, living, and behavioral sense of perception: an enactive-phenomenological response to a sensorimotor critique

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-25 (forthcoming)
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With Jan Degenaar and Kevin O’Regan’s (D&O) critique of (what they call) ‘autopoietic enactivism’ as point of departure, this article seeks to revisit, refine, and develop phenomenology’s significance for the enactive view. Arguing that D&O’s ‘sensorimotor theory’ fails to do justice to perceptual meaning, the article unfolds by (1) connecting this meaning to the notion of enaction as a meaningful co-definition of perceiver and perceived, (2) recounting phenomenological reasons for conceiving of the perceiving subject as a living body, and (3) showing how the phenomenological perspective does a better job at fulfilling D&O’s requirement for grounding notions of mentality in ‘outer’ criteria than they do. The picture that thus emerges is one of perceptual meaning as an integration of lived, living, and behavioral aspects – a structure of behavior that cannot be captured by appeal to sensorimotor capacities alone but that is adequately illuminated by the enactive notion of adaptive autonomy.

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Thomas Netland
University of Agder


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