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Enactivist InterventionsRethinking the Mind$
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Shaun Gallagher

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198794325

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794325.001.0001

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The Practice of Thinking

The Practice of Thinking

Chapter:
(p.187) 10 The Practice of Thinking
Source:
Enactivist Interventions
Author(s):

Shaun Gallagher

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198794325.003.0010

This chapter addresses what is sometimes called the ‘scaling-up’ problem. The challenge is to show how enactivism can explain higher-order cognition that may involve memory, imagination, reflection, and abstract thinking. The chapter is framed around three interventions. First, it develops an enactivist account of affordance-based imagining, with reference to concepts of simulation and pretend play. Second, reflective thinking is conceived as a skillful practice, a concept introduced with reference to the recent McDowell–Dreyfus debate. Finally, this enactivist conception of thinking as practice is applied to mathematical reasoning, seemingly the most abstract of cognitive accomplishments. Just as we can understand the movement possibilities of our bodies as tracing out physical affordances to be found in particular environments, the principles and operations of geometry and mathematics trace out cultural affordances that allow us to solve problems, to communicate at abstract levels, to model knowledge, and thereby to transform our environments.

Keywords:   higher-order cognition, skillful practice, affordance-based imagination, McDowell–Dreyfus debate, mathematics

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