ENSO Seminar Series

Scale matters: temporality of affordances

Melina Gastelum

National Autonomous University of Mexico
April 2, 2020, 3 p.m. UTC // April 2, 2020, 11 a.m. in America/New_York
In this paper, I expand on Chemero’s (2009) conception of affordances 2.0 in order to step forward in connecting enactive and ecological approaches within radical embodied cognitive science. For that, I join the claim that the environment is constitutive of cognition and add that by understanding how the temporal scales of affordances by which the engagement with it occurs, sensorimotor enactivism and ecological psychology can be used as complementary explanations for different temporal scales: the scale of the organism, and the scale of the organism-environment system, respectively. For this, in the first part of the paper I explain affordances 2.0 are and how they were conceived, and also explain the division between physical world, habitat and umwelt developed by Baggs and Chemero (2018). In the second section I expand on the notion of intrinsic temporality, borrowing the husserlian structure of time consciousness and argue that it can be exported to explain an intrinsic temporality in action/perception of affordances. In the third section I show this structure is transversal to the temporal scales into which affordances can be epistemologically divided. I claim that differences in temporal scales is significant because they are constitutive of sensorimotor schemes dynamics, and sensorimotor schemes dynamics are constitutive of affordances, hence affordances are intrinsically temporal. Henceforward, affordances are constituted by the abilities and the environment as relations that occur with an intrinsic temporality that is related to different temporal scales interconnected between them. This constitution is important because affordances are then temporal and therefore can be analyzed in three scales: the elementary, the integrative and the narrative. These three scales are constitutive of affordances whenever they are actualized and therefore whenever they bear an experience for the agent, so it might make sense to say that the entire organism-environment system retains changes in its structure as a result of the organism’s learning of sensorimotor contingencies. Finally, I discuss the importance on scales from the macro to micro levels of understanding behavior through affordances, considering them as synergies, where abilities and aspects of the environment are understood as constraints on the potential trajectories of such systems.

Link to join/watch the seminar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STlACsGd3_A