John Protevi on Alva Noe

Protevi has put up some nice comments on Alva Noe’s book Out of Our Heads over at his new blogging home (new APPS):

But I also worry about Noë’s reading of maturity as “growing comfortably into one’s environmental situation,” or as “integration” (51). Many people grow up and become mature but precisely into social situations that are disempowering for them, because they belong to disempowered political categories. It’s not that this disempowering experience is limited to immigrants, as Noë seems to imply; it’s right here at home that many people never quite feel at home, if you see what I’m getting at. Even though it’s a great advance to talk about the embodied, embedded, extended, enactive, affective subject (4EA), we shouldn’t talk about “the” 4EA subject, but about populations of subjects, many of whom suffer disempowering subjectification practices.

I think an account of “subjectification practices” is largely missing from the enactive approach these days. Protevi is right to emphasize the radical social-cultural subjectification process that happens in childhood, where we literally learn to become a person. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think Daniel Hutto’s Narrative Practice Hypothesis as well as Julian Jaynes’ account of narritization and the cultural scaffold of consciousness represents the path forward for cognitive science. Protevi’s work on political affect and “bodies politic” also provides an important stepping stone for understanding the nature of cultural subjectification processes.


1 Comment

Filed under Philosophy, Psychology

One response to “John Protevi on Alva Noe

  1. Of course Foucault’s later work could be brought in with those you mention, and I think John’s brilliant approach might be enhanced by an engagement with Bourdieu’s work on ‘habitus’ and ‘field’. An richer approach could theoretically link 4EA cognition to habitus, and affordance theory to field conceptions of real ecological situations and event. There are plenty of links that could be made between anth/soc theory and much of what you explore on this site. I think I’ve mentioned Tim Ingold to you before, but perhaps Tim’s work could act as a bridge between Gibson and someone like Bourdieu.

    Regardless, the kind of work John is doing is truly the way forward for social theory in general, in my opinion.

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