Action understanding: How low can you go?



Publication Details

Hutto, D. (2013). Action understanding: How low can you go?. Consciousness and Cognition, 22 (3), 1142-1151.


This paper begins by reminding the reader of the standard arguments that sceptics offer for doubting that mirror neurons could constitute any kind of action understanding (Section 2). It then outlines the usual response to these sceptical worries made by believers (Section 3). An attempt to put flesh on this idea in terms of what brains understand is critically examined and found wanting (Section 4). The ensuing analysis shows that it is prima facie possible to develop a more tenable account of enactive understanding that would fit the bill (Section 5). However, a second look raises further questions about (A) what mirror neurons target and (B) what such targeting involves (Section 6). Finally it is concluded that while mirror neurons may play a central role in enabling non-mentalistic forms of intersubjective engagement this falls short of action understanding (Section 7).

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