Enaction, Externalism and Perceptual Supplementation

Lenay Charles
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2006.1326
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In order to defend the twin themes of enaction and externalism, this article proposes a series of experiments based on minimalist prosthetic perception (perceptual supplementation). These very simple experimental situations make it possible to go beyond the negative critique of representationalism, and to provide both a precise definition, and a concrete functioning example, of the explanatory schema of perception as enaction. The localisation of objects and the recognition of shapes take place in the space of displacements of the point of view relative to the object that is perceived. The space of perception is the space of the action itself, and not the space of an internal representation. This is the position of radical externalism, according to which cognitive activity and the content of lived experience are to be understood in terms of the sensorimotor dynamics of coupling between an organism and its environment, and not as a process of computation on internal mental representations. This externalism would seem to be an appropriate epistemological and theoretical framework in order to account for the effectiveness of situated cognition. Technical devices and environments transform our possibilities of action, and thereby transform our lived experience, offering new capacities for perception, imagination, memory and reasoning. Similarly, an externalist framework allows a fruitful dialogue between phenomenology and psycho-physiology. Rather than presupposing a separation between internal lived experience and external objectivity, which leads only to the search for neuronal correlated of states of consciousness, for externalism this separation is actually constituted during the very process of concrete activity. As a result, the space of lived experience is co-extensive with the space of action and perception.

Pour citer cet article :

Lenay Charles (2006/1). Enaction, Externalism and Perceptual Supplementation. In Brassac Christian (Eds), Internalism / Externalism, Intellectica, 43, (pp.27-52), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2006.1326.