A novel theoretical framework for an embodied, non-representational approach to language that extends and deepens enactive theory, bridging the gap between sensorimotor skills and language. -/- Linguistic Bodies offers a fully embodied and fully social treatment of human language without positing mental representations. The authors present the first coherent, overarching theory that connects dynamical explanations of action and perception with language. Arguing from the assumption of a deep continuity between life and mind, they show that this continuity extends to language. (...) Expanding and deepening enactive theory, they offer a constitutive account of language and the co-emergent phenomena of personhood, reflexivity, social normativity, and ideality. Language, they argue, is not something we add to a range of existing cognitive capacities but a new way of being embodied. Each of us is a linguistic body in a community of other linguistic bodies. The book describes three distinct yet entangled kinds of human embodiment, organic, sensorimotor, and intersubjective; it traces the emergence of linguistic sensitivities and introduces the novel concept of linguistic bodies; and it explores the implications of living as linguistic bodies in perpetual becoming, applying the concept of linguistic bodies to questions of language acquisition, parenting, autism, grammar, symbol, narrative, and gesture, and to such ethical concerns as microaggression, institutional speech, and pedagogy. (shrink)
The enactive approach to cognition distinctively emphasizes autonomy, adaptivity, agency, meaning, experience, and interaction. Taken together, these principles can provide the new sciences of language with a comprehensive philosophical framework: languaging as adaptive social sense-making. This is a refinement and advancement on Maturana’s idea of languaging as a manner of living. Overcoming limitations in Maturana’s initial formulation of languaging is one of three motivations for this paper. Another is to give a response to skeptics who challenge enactivism to connect “lower-level” (...) sense-making with “higher-order” sophisticated moves like those commonly ascribed to language. Our primary goal is to contribute a positive story developed from the enactive account of social cognition, participatory sense-making. This concept is put into play in two different philosophical models, which respectively chronicle the logical and ontogenetic development of languaging as a particular form of social agency. Languaging emerges from the interplay of coordination and exploration inherent in the primordial tensions of participatory sense-making between individual and interactive norms; it is a practice that transcends the self-other boundary and enables agents to regulate self and other as well as interaction couplings. Linguistic sense-makers are those who negotiate interactive and internalized ways of meta-regulating the moment-to-moment activities of living and cognizing. Sense-makers in enlanguaged environments incorporate sensitivities, roles, and powers into their unique yet intelligible linguistic bodies. We dissolve the problematic dichotomies of high/low, online/offline, and linguistic/nonlinguistic cognition, and we provide new boundary criteria for specifying languaging as a prevalent kind of human social sense-making. (shrink)
Focusing on political and interpersonal conflict in the U.S., particularly racial conflict, but with an eye to similar conflicts throughout the world, we argue that the enactive approach to mind as life can be elaborated to provide an exigent framework for present social-political problems. An enactive approach fills problematic lacunae in the Western philosophical ethics project by offering radically refigured notions of responsibility and language. The dual enactive, participatory insight is that interactional responsibility is not singular and language is not (...) an individual property or ability, something that someone simply and uniformly 'has' or 'controls'. These points have not been integrated into our self-understanding as moral actors, to everyone’s detriment. We first advocate for adequate appreciation of Colombetti and Torrance’s 2009 suggestion that participatory sense-making necessarily implies shared responsibility for interactional outcomes. We argue that the enactive approach presents open-ended cultivation of virtue as embodied, contextualized, and dynamic know-how and destabilizes an individualist metaphysics. Putting this framework to work, we turn to the interactional challenges of conversations that concern differences and that involve potentially oppositional parties, offering a reading of Claudia Rankine’s Just Us. Finally, we make explicit Rankine’s normative project of mindful navigation of multiple perspectives in an interaction. We abstract three interrelated spheres of participatory intervention: location, language, and labor. These also indicate routes for empirical investigation into complex perspective-taking in dynamic interactions. (shrink)
In this paper we suggest that Duffley’s sign-based semantics rests on two main claims: a methodological one and an ontological one. The methodological one is the analysis of corpora and the ontological one is the postulate of mental content. By adopting a linguistic enactivist perspective with a Wittgensteinian twist, we endorse Duffley’s methodological claim and suggest that a sign-based semantics doesn’t have to rely on mental content if it takes into account the conception of meaningful material engagement in cognitive archeology (...) and its development into sign-using as an enactive capacity. (shrink)
Prompted by our commentators, we take this response as an opportunity to clarify the premises, attitudes, and methods of our enactive approach to human languaging. We high-light the need to recognize that any investigation, particularly one into language, is always a concretely situated and self-grounding activity; our attitude as researchers is one of knowing as engagement with our subject matter. Our task, formulating the missing categories that can bridge embodied cognitive science with language research, requires avoiding premature abstractions and clarifying (...) the multiple circularities at play. Our chosen method is dialectical, which has prompted several interesting observations that we respond to, particularly with respect to what this method means for enactive epistemology and ontology. We also clarify the important question of how best to conceive of the variety of social skills we progressively identify with our method and are at play in human languaging. Are these skills socially constituted or just socially learned? The difference, again, leads to a clarification that acts, skills, actors, and interactions are to be conceived as co-emerging categories. We illustrate some of these points with a discussion of an example of aspects of the model at play in a study of gift giving in China.Keywords: Enactive epistemology, Enactive ontology, Dialectics, languaging, Shared know-how. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “A Critique of Barbieri’s Code Biology” by Alexander V. Kravchenko.: Kravchenko encourages language science to approach languaging as “a species-specific semiotic activity that has a biological function.” Languaging as a form of social agency is broader than semiosis but not necessarily “above” it nor driven by biological function. By focusing on participation and becoming, the enactive approach to linguistic bodies offers conceptual resources to bridge human and non-human sense-making without resorting to codes.
Receiving another person’s gestures is an aesthetic production and an ethical pursuit. Cuffari finds support for this claim in Merleau-Ponty’s sustained comparisons between speaking, writing, and painting and in his concepts of reversibility and encroachment in The Prose of the World. She considers complex instances of gesture reception in interactions occurring in family life, poetic response to racist speech, and a robotic art exhibition. Gestures signify according to a logic of appropriative disclosure, wherein gesturing bodies select and stylize features of (...) shared space and history in an effort to say something new. Gesture receivers complete acts of meaning making by confronting and co-inhabiting the coherent deformations of another’s stylized and expressive action. Cuffari calls for efforts to perceive ourselves perceiving as a conscious practice of artistic stance towards conversational meaning co-construction. Recevoir les gestes d’une autre personne est une production esthétique et une recherche éthique. Cuffari trouve un soutien à cette thèse dans les comparaisons de Merleau-Ponty entre parler, écrire et peindre, et dans ses concepts de la réversibilité et de l’entrelacement dans La prose du monde. Elle prend en considération des instances complexes de réception de gestes dans des interactions qui se produisent dans la vie familiale, la réponse poétique à un discours raciste, une exposition d’art robotique. Les gestes signifient selon une logique du dévoilement et de l’appropriation, où les corps gesticulants sélectionnent et stylisent les caractères de l’espace partagé et de l’histoire dans un effort de dire quelque chose de nouveau. Ceux qui reçoivent les gestes accomplissent des actes de signification en confrontant et en co-habitant les déformations cohérentes d’une action stylisée et expressive d’un autre. Cuffari appelle à des efforts pour nous percevoir nous-mêmes en percevant, en tant que pratique consciente artistique à l’égard de la co-construction conversationnelle du sens.Ricevere il gesto di un’altra persona implica una produzione estetica ed una ricerca etica. Cuffari poggia la sua tesi sul confronto che Merleau-Ponty stabilisce tra parlare, scrivere e dipingere e sul concetto di reversibilità e di intreccio ne La prosa del mondo. L’autrice esamina la complessa questione della ricezione del gesto in diversi contesti: interazioni della vita famigliare, risposta poetica al discorso raziale e una mostra di arte robotica. I gesti significano in base ad una logica di disvelamento e appropriazione, in cui i corpi che performano i gesti individuano e stilizzano i caratteri di uno spazio condiviso e di una storia nello sforzo di esprimere qualcosa di nuovo. I riceventi del gesto vengono a completarne il significato confrontando e coabitando le deformazioni coerenti dell’azione stilizzata e espressiva di un altro. Cuffari ci chiama così a percepirci noi stessi nell’atto di percepire in quanto pratica artistica cosciente rispetto alla co-costruzione discorsiva del significato. (shrink)