I just heard about an interesting new book on the horizon from Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin called Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds Without Content. The preface is downloadable, and the authors got my attention pretty early on with this paragraph:
“This raises the worry that the whole enactive and embodied turn in cognitive science is backed by little or nothing more an unreasoned attachment to certain attractive, but ultimately empty, pictures and slogans. For this reason, Prinz (2009) is right to proclaim that – at least in one sense – enactive and embodied approaches may be easier to “sell than to prove” (p. 419).
We aim to supply the philosophical clarifications and strong support that has been sorely missing.”
The criticisms mentioned in the preface line up fairly precisely with my own, so I’m quite interested to see what they come up with to address these issues. I can also admit to a certain morbid curiousity about how enactivism can be pushed even farther.
I do find myself wondering where the endpoint will be, however. So far we’ve dismissed qualia, now apparently mental content of any sort is gone, so what’s next? Will we slide all the way back to behaviourism, then Chomsky will write another devastating critique of it like back in 1967, and then we’ll go round the whole cycle again?
I’m curious too! That’s why we have invited Hutto to come to Granada in January and tell us all about it. I’ll keep you posted.
I do not think we will ever slide all the way back to behaviourism: we just need to remember that its error was not its trying to operationalize the mental (through assessing behaviour), but its saying that the mental, after all, just is this operationazation…
I remember Bruce Thyer making the point, and I liked it (http://www.humanamente.eu/PDF/Issue11_Paper_Thyer.pdf).
By the way, I just finished running a reading group on Hutto & Myin’s book—that’s how I ended up on this blog. You can find more info and summaries of the single chapters at its webpage: http://huttoandmyinsfiringsquad.wordpress.com/
[…] few years ago I posted briefly about a book that was coming out called Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds Without Content. When a book releases with a provocative title like that it’s no surprise that tons of […]