Hurley's Transcendental Enactivism

Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (5-6):12-38 (2016)
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Susan Hurley (1998a, 2003a, 2008) argues that our capacities for perception, agency and thought are essentially interdependent and co-emerge from a tangle of sensorimotor processes that are both cause and effect of the web of interactive and communicative practices they weave us into. In this paper, I reconstruct this view and its main motivations, with a particular focus on three important aspects. First, Hurley argues that an essential aspect of conscious perception – its perspectival unity – constitutively depends on agency. That is, agency is a transcendental condition on the possibility of perception (§3). Second, understanding why this dependence obtains involves understanding why perception and agency emerge together, and how they do so on the basis of a web of interrelated capacities for sensorimotor control (§2, §4). Third, understanding these first two aspects of Hurley’s view is the key to understanding the sophisticated interplay between i) her arguments for the causal interdependence of sensory input and motor output, and ii) her arguments for the essential interdependence of perception and agency.



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Dave Ward
University of Edinburgh

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