Logic and Language

Erik Rietveld: Skilled intentionality for ‘higher’ cognition

Speaker: Erik Rietveld
Title: Skilled intentionality for ‘higher’ cognition
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: *BEWARE* Vendelstraat 8, room 308

See also: http://erikrietveld.wordpress.com/about-2/

It is generally assumed that the field of embodied cognition has sensible things to say about ‘lower’ cognition, such as grasping a cup or riding a bike, but not about ‘higher’ cognition, such as building a house. I use insights from skillful action in everyday life and expertise of architects to develop a notion of ‘skilled intentionality’. The aim is to show how, using this notion, embodied cognitive science will be able to deal with (at least certain central kinds of) what is traditionally called ‘higher’ cognition.  Humans share with other animals a skillful responsiveness to possibilities for action provided by the environment or ‘affordances’ (Gibson, 1979; Chemero, 2003, 2009). I understand affordances as relations between an aspect of the environment and abilities available to a ‘form of life’ (Rietveld & Kiverstein, under review; Wittgenstein, 1953; compare Chemero, 2009). Crucially, the landscape of affordances in our human form of life is very rich thanks to the variety of our practices and abilities. This rich landscape includes possibilities for actions that are traditionally considered as instances of ‘higher’ cognition: e.g. possibilities for social interaction, for architectural design, and even affordances for making a correct propositional knowledge claim about the world. For example, given our practices and the abilities available in it, the color of the letters on my screen affords judging correctly that these letters are black. I will present ethnographic data on social cognition in architectural practice and show how my concept of skilled intentionality (Rietveld, 2012a/b; Rietveld,De Haan & Denys, 2013 (BBS), Kiverstein & Rietveld, 2012), understood as skillful responsiveness to a whole field of affordances, substantially increases the reach of the paradigm of embodied cognitive science.