Unfulfilled habits: on the affective consequences of turning down affordances for social interaction

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (forthcoming)
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Many pragmatist and non-representational approaches to cognition, such as the enactivist, have focused on the relations between actions, affectivity, and habits from an intersubjective perspective. For those adopting such approaches, all these aspects are inextricably connected; however, many questions remain open regarding the dynamics by which they unfold and shape each other over time. This paper addresses a specific topic that has not received much attention: the impact on future behavior of not fulfilling possibilities for social interaction even though their fulfillment is desirable within a given context. Inspired by Gibson’s theory of affordances and Dewey’s account of habits, these situations will be characterized as events where an agent does not act upon an inviting affordance for social interaction due to a conflict which he or she experiences between given concerns, needs, and social norms. This conflict leads to a sense of unfulfillment that may eventually bring about a crisis and revision of habits. Through specific examples, this work presents the potential impact of the connection between affordances, habits, and affectivity on everyday situations. It therefore represents an exploration of the common ground between pragmatism and enactivism and an attempt to contribute to a process-based approach to social interaction.

Author's Profile

Carlos Vara Sánchez
Complutense University of Madrid


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