Year

2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Law, Humanities, and the Arts

Abstract

The enactive, embodied approach to cognition gives us new ways of looking at the situatedness of our cognitive processes. Enactivism views cognition in terms of multiple nested processes spanning brain, body, and world. In contrast to more conventional computational or representational accounts of cognition, enactivism emphasizes the non-reductive nature of cognition through its interdisciplinarity and advocation for dynamical rather than mechanistic explanatory models. Using this framework, I explore the fertile ground at the crossroads of situated cognition, feminist theory, and epistemology. I first argue that the enactive approach provides better resources for discussing epistemic situatedness, as discussed in feminist epistemology and philosophy of science, than computational approaches to cognition. In the following chapter, I demonstrate the connections between critical social epistemology and the enactive approach to language through a discussion of epistemic agency. Next, I offer a way of thinking about how gender influences agency in the phenomenological sense by discussing the dynamics between our minimal and narrative senses of agency. The next chapter provides a more sustained argument for a non-representational approach to the formation and fulfilment of intentions, making new connections between perception, affordance relevance, and language skills. In the following chapter, I make the case that recent accounts of social affordances in the ecological-enactive literature offer limited resources for explaining how marginalization influences affordance perception.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.