Radicalizing enactivism: Basic minds without content

Daniel Hutto, Erik Myin

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The vast sea of what humans do and experience is best understood by appeal to nothing more than dynamically unfolding, situated embodied interactions and engagements with worldly offerings. Basic mentality is neither underwritten by processes involving the manipulation of contents nor is it, it itself, inherently contentful. To think otherwise is to ascribe features and characteristics to basic minds that only belong to enculturated, scaffolded minds that are built atop them.
This book advances this view by radicalizing enactivism. Enactive or embodied approaches to cognition give explanatory pride of place to dynamic interactions between organisms and features of their environments over the contentful representation of such environmental features. Radically Enactive or Embodied Cognition, REC, goes further than its conservative cousins by denying that even basic Cognition necessarily Involves Content, by denying CIC.
Defenders of CIC must face up to the Hard Problem of Content. Posting informational content, it is argued, is not compatible with explanatory naturalism. This motivates the view that engaged interactions with environmental offerings involves being sensitive to covariant information but it does not involve literally picking up and processing informational contents. The same verdict applies to perceptual experiences. Even maximally minimal intellectualist proposals offer no compelling reason for supposing that perceptual experience is inherently contentful. Radicalizing Enactivism concludes by examining the consequences of adopting REC about basic minds for debates about how far minds extend and how we might best understand phenomenal aspects of experience.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherMIT Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)0262018543, 978-0262018548
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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