Publication 4772

Cowley S. J. & Gahrn-Andersen R. (2015) Deflating autonomy: Human interactivity in the emerging social world. Intellectica 62: 49–63. Fulltext at
This article critiques recent enactivist attempts to bridge an epistemological divide between the individual and the social (i.e. to fill in the posited macro-micro gap) Its central claim is that an inflated view of ‘autonomy’ leads to error. Scrutinising two contributions, we find that methodological solipsism taints Varela’s model: It induces De Jaegher & Di Paolo to ascribe social knowledge to perturbances – contingencies whose logic arises from the closed organization of an individual (De Jaegher & Di Paolo, 2007) and Steiner & Stewart to posit that the pre-dispositions of an organizationally closed world prompt individuals to “receive” shared norms (Steiner & Stewart, 2009) On our deflated view, neither organizational closure nor participatory sense making apply to most human cognition. Rather, we invoke a developmental process based on the recursive self-maintenance that is found in all organism-environment systems (including bacteria) Humans differ in that infants discover ways of making skilled use of phenomenal experience: they learn to predicate something of lived experience. As observers, they connect impersonal resources of culture (artifacts, institutions, languages etc.) with on-going social and environmental activity. This human kind of heteronomy links social processes to agent-environment systems that sustain – and are sustained by – historically positioned modes of life. Far from being organisationally closed, human subjects depend on using sensorimotoric prompts to connect the phenomenal with the impersonal and open up a partly shared, partly lived, reality.


The publication has not yet bookmarked in any reading list

You cannot bookmark this publication into a reading list because you are not member of any
Log in to create one.

There are currently no annotations

To add an annotation you need to log in first

Download statistics

Log in to view the download statistics for this publication
Export bibliographic details as: CF Format · APA · BibTex · EndNote · Harvard · MLA · Nature · RIS · Science