Publication 2414

Baerveldt C. & Verheggen T. (1999) Enactivism and the Experiential Reality of Culture: Rethinking the Epistemological Basis of Cultural Psychology. Culture & Psychology 5(2): 183–206. Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2414
The key problem of cultural psychology comprises a paradox: while people believe they act on the basis of their own authentic experience, cultural psychologists observe their behavior to be socially patterned. It is argued that, in order to account for those patterns, cultural psychology should take human experience as its analytical starting point. Nevertheless, there is a tendency within cultural psychology to either neglect human experience, by focusing exclusively on discourse, or to consider the structure of this experience to originate in an already produced cultural order. For an alternative approach, we turn to the enactive view of cognition developed by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. Their theory of autonomy can provide the epistemological basis for a cultural psychology that explains how experience can become socially patterned in the first place. Cultural life forms are then considered as consensually coordinated, embodied practices.

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