Hubert Dreyfus: Freeman’s Merleau-Pontian Neurodynamics – Similarities and Differences

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Hubert Dreyfus: Freeman’s Merleau-Pontian Neurodynamics – Similarities and Differences

Our experience of the everyday world is given as already organized in terms of significance and relevance. Yet, all that the organism can receive is meaningless physical energy. How can such senseless physical stimulation be experienced directly as significant and acted upon? To suggest an answer to this basic question I will draw on Walter Freeman’s model of rabbit learning and of acting which resembles Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s account of perception and action.
To bring out the structural similarities and differences, I will consider two examples, one of convergence (Freeman’s account of learning new attractors and Merleau-Ponty’s description of what he calls the intentional arc), and one of possible divergence concerning the role of expectation in the perception/action loop. The question then will be: How does Freeman’s account of preafference relate to Merleau-Ponty’s account of maximum grip?

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