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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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The Extent of Our Abilities: The Presence, Salience, and Sociality of Affordances

The Extent of Our Abilities: The Presence, Salience, and Sociality of Affordances

(p.245) 13 The Extent of Our Abilities: The Presence, Salience, and Sociality of Affordances
Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture

John Z. Elias

The MIT Press

We, in virtue of our sociability and plasticity, are especially open to altering and developing our capacities and abilities, thereby expanding the scope of available affordances. The distinctively dynamic and extensive nature of abilities for human beings, however, raises questions concerning the ontology of affordances, given their relativity to abilities, their being relative to abilities. These questions are particularly pressing since much of the power of the concept comes from the claim that affordances are real, that they exist in some sense. Resolution of these issues, I suggest, involves taking the temporal dimension of abilities and affordances seriously, particularly in terms of interaction across multiple temporal scales. Such a temporal perspective encompasses the modulating role of motivation, as well as questions concerning the presence and salience of affordances. I end by addressing abilities as they extend into, and are extended by, social interaction and coordination, and introduce the notion of joint affordances specifically, in contrast to the sociality of affordances more generally.

Keywords:   Affordances, Abilities, joint action, social coordination, ecological ontology

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