Repository | Book | Chapter


(2012) Knowing without thinking, Dordrecht, Springer.

Ground-level intelligence

action-oriented representation and the dynamics of the background

Massimiliano Cappuccio , Michael Wheeler

pp. 13-36

Studies of embodied intelligence have often tended to focus on the essentially responsive aspects of bodily expertise (for example, catching a ball once it has been hit into the air). But skilled sportsmen and sportswomen, actors and actresses, dancers, orators, and other performers often execute ritual-like gestures or other fixed action routines as performance-optimizing elements in their pre-performance preparations, especially when daunting or unfamiliar conditions are anticipated. For example, a recent movie (The King's Speech) and a book of memories (Logue and Conradi, 2010) have revealed that, just before broadcasting his historic announcement that the United Kingdom was entering the Second World War, King George VI furiously repeated certain tongue twisters in a resolute effort to overcome his relentless stutter. Such ritualized actions don't merely change the causal relations between performers and their physical environments (although this may well be part of their function), but they provide performers with the practical scaffolds that summon more favourable contexts for their accomplishments, by uncovering viable landscapes for effective action rather than unassailable barricades of frightening obstacles. In other words, while the kinds of embodied skills that have occupied many recent theorists serve to attune behaviour to an actual context of activity, whether that context is favourable or not, preparatory embodied routines actively refer to certain potential (and thus non-actual) contexts of a favourable nature that those routines themselves help to bring about, indicating the possibilities of actions disclosed by the desired context.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230368064_2

Full citation:

Cappuccio, M. , Wheeler, M. (2012)., Ground-level intelligence: action-oriented representation and the dynamics of the background, in Z. Radman (ed.), Knowing without thinking, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 13-36.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.