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Exposing the background: deep and local

Chapter


Abstract


  • Humans engage with the world and one another in sophisticated ways that

    (arguably) creatures lacking language cannot. Language (again, arguably)

    enables us to communicate meaningfully, to form contentful attitudes and

    intentions, and to design and execute plans so as to satisfy our needs and

    desires. Yet, for this to be so, a great deal that is not captured in terms of

    explicit content, necessarily, informs everything we expressly say, explicitly

    think and deliberately do.

    Although many regard my first two claims about the importance of

    language in making possible unique forms of human speech, thought

    and action as contentious, the truth of the third claim is almost univer-

    sally accepted in some form. Disagreements crop up, however, as soon as

    attempts are made to explicate the nature of just what it is that informs

    what we say, think and do and what, precisely, this involves on the part of

    speakers, thinkers and doers. In what follows, I defend an anti-intellectual-

    ist, non-

    representationalist account of what lies in the background of, and

    makes possible, our explicitly contentful speech, thought and action.

    Taking Searle’s classic discussion of the Background as the point of depar-

    ture, Section 1, stakes out the questions to be explored and motivates the

    investigation. Section 2, develops an argument for a non-representational

    account of the deep, biological Background in radically enactive terms. It

    promotes the idea that the sorts of embodied capacities that constitute this

    aspect of the Background must be understood in intentional but nonethe-

    less non-contentful terms. Not only is this possible, I argue that it is well

    motivated by recent and unfolding developments in the new wave of cogni-

    tive science. Section 3, shifts gear and considers a central sort of understand-

    ing that is fixed by local, cultural Background. It is argued that the critical

    frame for our everyday understanding of the explicit actions of ourselves

    and others is derived from stable, socio-culturally based narrative practices

    but without there being any rules for engaging such practices and without

    these ever being explicitly represented, learned or acquired.

Publication Date


  • 2012

Citation


  • Hutto, D. (2012). Exposing the background: deep and local. In Z. Radman (Eds.), Knowing Without Thinking: Mind, Action, Cognition and the Phenomenon of the Background (pp. 37-56). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/737

Book Title


  • Knowing Without Thinking: Mind, Action, Cognition and the Phenomenon of the Background

Start Page


  • 37

End Page


  • 56

Abstract


  • Humans engage with the world and one another in sophisticated ways that

    (arguably) creatures lacking language cannot. Language (again, arguably)

    enables us to communicate meaningfully, to form contentful attitudes and

    intentions, and to design and execute plans so as to satisfy our needs and

    desires. Yet, for this to be so, a great deal that is not captured in terms of

    explicit content, necessarily, informs everything we expressly say, explicitly

    think and deliberately do.

    Although many regard my first two claims about the importance of

    language in making possible unique forms of human speech, thought

    and action as contentious, the truth of the third claim is almost univer-

    sally accepted in some form. Disagreements crop up, however, as soon as

    attempts are made to explicate the nature of just what it is that informs

    what we say, think and do and what, precisely, this involves on the part of

    speakers, thinkers and doers. In what follows, I defend an anti-intellectual-

    ist, non-

    representationalist account of what lies in the background of, and

    makes possible, our explicitly contentful speech, thought and action.

    Taking Searle’s classic discussion of the Background as the point of depar-

    ture, Section 1, stakes out the questions to be explored and motivates the

    investigation. Section 2, develops an argument for a non-representational

    account of the deep, biological Background in radically enactive terms. It

    promotes the idea that the sorts of embodied capacities that constitute this

    aspect of the Background must be understood in intentional but nonethe-

    less non-contentful terms. Not only is this possible, I argue that it is well

    motivated by recent and unfolding developments in the new wave of cogni-

    tive science. Section 3, shifts gear and considers a central sort of understand-

    ing that is fixed by local, cultural Background. It is argued that the critical

    frame for our everyday understanding of the explicit actions of ourselves

    and others is derived from stable, socio-culturally based narrative practices

    but without there being any rules for engaging such practices and without

    these ever being explicitly represented, learned or acquired.

Publication Date


  • 2012

Citation


  • Hutto, D. (2012). Exposing the background: deep and local. In Z. Radman (Eds.), Knowing Without Thinking: Mind, Action, Cognition and the Phenomenon of the Background (pp. 37-56). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/737

Book Title


  • Knowing Without Thinking: Mind, Action, Cognition and the Phenomenon of the Background

Start Page


  • 37

End Page


  • 56