Publication 7694

Dierckxsens G. & Bergmann L. T. (2022) Enactive ethics and hermeneutics: From bodily normativity to critical ethics. Topoi 41(2): 299–312. Fulltext at
Recent enactive accounts of cognition have begun to disentangle social and normative aspects of the human mind. In this paper, we will contribute to this debate by developing an enactive account of moral development, i.e. the learning of ethical norms, and critical engagement with these norms through social affordances, participatory sense-making, and moral concern. The difficulty in articulating such an account is in reconciling the affective embodied aspects of moral experiences with the more orthodox aspects of ethics like critical reflection. In order to respond to this difficulty, we bring Ricoeur’s hermeneutics into dialogue with enactivism. Complementing the enactive tradition, we frame critical ethical learning as embodied interaction with diverse ethical dimensions allowing us to incorporate moral values in the form of critical narratives and the social imaginary. We agree with enactivist theories that participation and democratic dialogue are essential parts of critical reflection on ethical norms. Yet, we also contend that this kind of critical reflection benefits from hermeneutical interpretation, challenging larger participatory networks, such as social institutions, which nourish inequality and maintain unethical values.

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