Neo-pragmatic intentionality and enactive perception: a compromise between extended and enactive minds



The general idea of enactive perception is that actual and potential embodied activities determine perceptual experience. Some extended mind theorists, such as Andy Clark, refute this claim despite their general emphasis on the importance of the body. I propose a compromise to this opposition. The extended mind thesis is allegedly a consequence of our commonsense understanding of the mind. Furthermore, extended mind theorists assume the existence of non-human minds. I explore the precise nature of the commonsense understanding of the mind, which accepts both extended minds and non-human minds. In the area of philosophy of mind, there are two theories of intentionality based on such commonsense understandings: neo-behaviorism defended, e.g., by Daniel Dennett, and neo-pragmatism advocated, e.g., by Robert Brandom. Neither account is in full agreement with how people ordinarily use their commonsense understanding. Neo-pragmatism, however, can overcome its problem—its inability to explain why people routinely find intentionality in non-humans—by incorporating the phenomenological suggestion that interactional bodily skills determine how we perceive others’ intentionality. I call this integrative position embodied neo-pragmatism. I conclude that the extended view of the mind makes sense, without denying the existence of non-human minds, only by assuming embodied neo-pragmatism and hence the general idea of enactive perception.


Extended mind Enactive perception Intentionality Neo-pragmatism Non-human minds Interaction theory of social cognition 


  1. Adams, F., & Aizawa, K. (2001). The bounds of cognition. Philosophical Psychology, 14(1), 43–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Block, N. (1980). What is functionalism? In N. Block (Ed.), Readings in philosophy of psychology (pp. 171–184). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Braddon-Mitchell, D., & Jackson, F. (2006). The philosophy of mind and cognition: an introduction (2nd ed.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Brandom, R. (1994). Making it explicit: reasoning, representing, and discursive commitment. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brandom, R. (2000). Articulating reasons: an introduction to inferentialism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brentano, F. [1874] 1995. Psychology from an empirical standpoint. Ed. Oscar Kraus. Trans. and ed. Linda McAlister. Trans. Antos C. Rancurello and D.B. Terrell. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Cash, M. (2008). Thought and oughts. Philosophical Explorations, 11(2), 93–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark, A. (1997). Being there: putting brain, body and world together again. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, A. (2008a). Supersizing the mind: embodiment, action, and cognitive extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, A. (2008b). Pressing the flesh: a tension in the study of the embodied, embedded mind? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 76(1), 37–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, A. (2009). Spreading the joy? Why the machinery of consciousness is (probably) still in the head. Mind, 118(472), 963–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. (1998). The extended mind. Analysis, 58(1), 7–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dennett, D. (1971). Intentional systems. The Journal of Philosophy, 68(4), 87–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dennett, D. (1987). The intentional stance. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gallagher, S. (2001). The practice of mind. Theory, simulation or primary interaction? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8(5–7), 83–108.Google Scholar
  16. Gallagher, S. (2004). Situational understanding: a Gurwitschean critique of theory of mind. In L. Embree (Ed.), Gurwitsch’s relevancy for cognitive science (pp. 25–44). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gallagher, S. (2005a). How the body shapes the mind. Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallagher, S. (2005b). Phenomenological contributions to a theory of social cognition. Husserl Studies, 21, 95–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gallagher, S., & Miyahara, K. (2011). Neo-pragmatism and enactive intentionality. In J. Schulkin (Ed.), Action, perception and the brain. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. Haugeland, J. (1990). Intentionality all-stars. Philosophical Perspectives, 4, 383–427. Reprinted in Haugeland 1998b, 127–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haugeland, J. (1994). Understanding: Dennett and Searle. In A. Revonsuo & M. Kamppinen (Eds.), Consciousness in philosophy and cognitive neuroscience (pp. 115–128). Hillsdale: Erlbaum. Reprinted in Haugeland 1998b, 291–304.Google Scholar
  22. Haugeland, J. (1996). Objective perception. In K. Akins (Ed.), Perception. Vancouver studies in cognitive science volume 5 (pp. 268–289). New York: Oxford University Press. Reprinted in Haugeland 1998b, 241–265.Google Scholar
  23. Haugeland, J. (1998a). Truth and rule-following. In J. Hauegland (Ed.), Having thought: essays in the metaphysics of mind (pp. 305–361). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Haugeland, J. (Ed.). (1998b). Having thought: essays in the metaphysics of mind. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Heider, F., & Simmel, M. (1944). An experimental study of apparent behavior. The American Journal of Psychology, 57(2), 243–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lewis, D. (1972). Psychophysical and theoretical identifications. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 50(3), 249–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Merleau-Ponty, M. ([1945] 2006). Phenomeology of perception. Trans. Colin Smith. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Michotte, A. ([1946] 1963). The perception of causality. Trans. T. R. Miles and Elaine Miles. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  29. Noë, A. (2004). Action in perception. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  30. Rupert, R. (2004). Challenges to the hypothesis of extended cognition. The Journal of Philosophy, 101(8), 389–428.Google Scholar
  31. Scheler, M. ([1913] 1954). The nature of sympathy. Trans. Peter Heath. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  32. Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in life: biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Wheeler, M. (2005). Reconstructing the cognitive world: the next step. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Arts and SciencesThe University of TokyoMeguroJapan

Personalised recommendations