Understanding phenomenological differences in how affordances solicit action

An exploration

Roy Dings

pp. 681-699

Affordances are possibilities for action offered by the environment. Recent research on affordances holds that there are differences in how people experience such possibilities for action. However, these differences have not been properly investigated. In this paper I start by briefly scrutinizing the existing literature on this issue, and then argue for two claims. First, that whether an affordance solicits action or not depends on its relevance to the agent’s concerns. Second, that the experiential character of how an affordance solicits action depends on the character of the concern to which it is relevant. Concerns are conceived of as bodily forms of responsiveness, and solicitations are experienced through this responsiveness. The main aim of this paper is to make clear that an understanding of experiential differences in solicitations has to be based on a phenomenological appreciation of how one experiences one’s responsiveness to those solicitations. In the remainder of the paper I show how such a phenomenological appreciation reveals several characteristics of our responsiveness and I briefly explore three of them: valence, force and mineness. In the final section I discuss the self-referentiality of affordances in light of the current proposal, and argue that this self-referentiality is broader than is typically acknowledged.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-017-9534-y

Full citation:

Dings, R. (2018). Understanding phenomenological differences in how affordances solicit action: An exploration. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (4), pp. 681-699.

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