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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 Role of Affordances in Pretend Play

The Role of Affordances in Pretend Play

Chapter:
(p.257) 14 The Role of Affordances in Pretend Play
Source:
Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture
Author(s):

Zuzanna Rucińska

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035552.003.0015

Pretending is often conceptualized as an imaginative and symbolic capacity, positing mental representations in its explanation. This paper proposes an alternative way to explain pretending with the use of affordances, instead of mental representations, as explanatory tools. It shows that a specific notion of affordance has to be appropriated for affordances to play the relevant explanatory roles in pretense. This analysis opens up a discussion on the nature of affordances, clarifying how on various conceptions the environment and the animal play a role in shaping affordances. It then clarifies which notion is best compatible to explain pretending; the paper suggests that a particular conception of affordances as dispositional properties of the environment (a la Turvey 1992) can make affordances explanatorily useful. The paper then shows how the environmental affordances with animal effectivities, placed in the right context (formed by canonical affordances or other people), could form an explanation of basic kinds of pretend play (section 3). The paper is a proof of concept that some forms of cognitive activity, such as basic pretense, can be explained by embodied and enactive theorists without the need to posit mental representations. It emphasizes the non-trivial role of social and cultural factors in actualizing pretense, providing a crucial aspect of a coherent explanation of basic pretense.

Keywords:   Affordances, Pretense, Play, social context, enactivism

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