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Embodiment, Enaction, and CultureInvestigating the Constitution of the Shared World$
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Christoph Durt, Thomas Fuchs, and Christian Tewes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035552

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035552.001.0001

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Neither Individualistic nor Interactionist

Neither Individualistic nor Interactionist

(p.87) 4 Neither Individualistic nor Interactionist
Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture

Ezequiel Di Paolo

Hanne De Jaegher

The MIT Press

We summarize some of the main proposals of the enactive approach to social understanding and discuss some common misreadings of the notion of participatory sense-making. The emphasis on the role played by social interaction in the enactive perspective is sometimes misinterpreted as the adoption of an interactionist stance, whereby individual processes are less relevant. This is not the case, and we proceed to explain and exemplify the central role played by individual agency, subpersonal processes and subjective personal experience in the framework of participatory sense-making. This is clear from how social interaction is defined as involving the co-arising of autonomous relational patterns, not under the full control of any participant, but without loss of individual autonomy of those engaged in the social encounter. We discuss how interactive patterns can sustain a deep entanglement between brain, body and interactive dynamics during social engagement, as well as the functional role played in some case by collective dynamics. The enactive approach is neither individualistic, nor interactionist. However, we express skepticism regarding the usefulness of hybrid approaches, which perpetuate dualistic distinctions between mind and body. Instead, the tensions in the notion of participatory sense-making are elaborated dialectically, demonstrating how complex forms of social agency, including language, develop from the primordial tension in participatory sense-making.

Keywords:   Enactive approach, Intersubjectivity, Participatory sense-making, Social cognition, Social interaction

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