María Jimena Clavel Vázquez - ‘Perceiving like a girl? Sensorimotor Enactivism in the face of situated embodiment’

This episode of Season 5 of the BSP Podcast features María Jimena Clavel Vázquez, University of Stirling and University of St Andrews. The presentation is taken from our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online.

 

ABSTRACT: In what sense is perceptual experience situated? Embodied theories of perception might be good candidates to answer this question. However, most of these views have omitted the situated aspect of embodiment, i.e. the way perceptual experience is shaped by a body that is the concrete locus of our social, historical, economic and cultural situation. In this paper, I focus on sensorimotor enactivism (SMEn). I aim to show that this view can remedy this omission by paying closer attention to the idea that perceptual experience consists in situated embodied skills I begin by outlining the relevant aspects of SMEn, a theory that claims that perceptual experience is enacted by the interactions of an embodied agent with her environment (see Hurley 1998, O’Regan & Noë 2001, Noë 2004, O’Regan 2011). In section II, I argue that, although for SMEn perceptual experience is shaped by the body of the perceiver, the view fails to do justice to the situated aspect of embodiment. This aspect is reflected in perceptual experience’s lack of social and cultural neutrality. In section III, I articulate the lack of neutrality of the body by drawing on Iris Marion Young’s view of the gendered situated body (Young 1980). She claims that our social, cultural, economic, and political situation is embodied in that it is manifested in the way we relate to and inhabit our space, i.e. in our movements and comportment. In section IV, I argue that, if we accept with SMEn that perceptual experience is constituted by practical knowledge and consists in the execution of embodied skills, we should accept that these skills are also a manifestation of our situation. If perception is “something we do” (O’Regan and Noë 2001, p. 970), as the motto of SMEn goes, it is something we do as situated agents.

 

BIO: I am a PhD candidate at the St Andrews/Stirling Philosophy Graduate Programme. I work on Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Phenomenology, and Philosophy of Mind. I am particularly interested in embodied approaches to cognition and the way these can be informed by phenomenology. For my doctoral research, I have focused on the sensorimotor theory of perceptual experience and the notion of embodiment within this approach. I have also developed an embodied approach to imagination.

 

This recording is taken from the BSP Annual Conference 2020 Online: 'Engaged Phenomenology'. Organised with the University of Exeter and sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. BSP2020AC was held online this year due to global concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. For the conference our speakers recorded videos, our keynotes presented live over Zoom, and we also recorded some interviews online as well. Podcast episodes from BSP2020AC are soundtracks of those videos where we and the presenters feel the audio works as a standalone: https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/bsp-annual-conference-2020/

 

You can check out our forthcoming events here:

https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/events/

 

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP? https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/

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