Enactivism and Material Culture: How Enactivism Could Redefine Enculturation Processes

Philosophies 7 (4):75 (2022)
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Abstract

Culture has traditionally been considered as a set of knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, norms, and morals, acquired by a human being as a member of a group. Some anthropologists interpret this as a set of abstract representations, such as information or knowledge, while others interpret it as behavioral control mechanisms. These views assume that the contents of a particular culture must be processed by the minds of individuals, either in a direct way or by resorting to learned mental structures in processes of symbolic socialization. Some critics suggest a problem with these perspectives since they do not provide a convincing explanation of the enculturation process beyond metaphorical images of transfer or internalization of symbolic cultural contents through linguistic transmission. The new embodied theories of cognition, especially enactivism, could give new ideas about what enculturation processes are like, through the concept of participatory sense-making in material culture environments. In this essay, we discuss how an enactive vision of culture could be, and what advantages it would have, as well as the challenges and weaknesses in explaining the culture and its learning processes.

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