The Experiential Workspace and the Limits of Empirical Investigation

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Abstract:

In this paper, I develop the notion of the experiential workspace, or the phenomenal setting generated by the coupling between the enactive body and its affordance-laden environment, in order to carry out a fine-grained analysis of enactive experiential phenomena, in particular those of ordinary lived experience. My purpose is to shed light on some of the ways that empirical methodologies are intrinsically limited in their ability to capture the native phenomena of enactive, embodied experience. Drawing on the work of Merleau-Ponty, I argue that the experiential workspace is characterized by dynamic mutability, emergent norms, and epistemic openness - characteristics that are transphenomenal in nature and thus resistant to empirical measurement. Using concepts from the work of developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1978) and feminist philosopher Iris Marion Young (1998), I will show how our embeddedness in an intersubjective world makes the experiential workspace a mercurial, labile phenomenon, characterized by inherently transphenomenal features that are resistant to naturalistic analysis or modelling.

Keywords: Merleau-Ponty; feminism; interpersonal relations; phenomenology; scaffolding; situated cognition

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09672550802113441

Affiliations: University of Colorado at Denver, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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