Bodily Affects as Prenoetic Elements in Enactive Perception

Matthew Bower, Shaun Gallagher


In this paper we attempt to advance the enactive discourse on perception by highlighting the role of bodily affects as prenoetic constraints on perceptual experience. Enactivists argue for an essential connection between perception and action, where action primarily means skillful bodily intervention in one’s surroundings. Analyses of sensory-motor contingencies (as in Noë 2004) are important contributions to the enactive account. Yet this is an incomplete story since sensory-motor contingencies are of no avail to the perceiving agent without motivational pull in one direction or another or a sense of the pertinent affective contingencies. Before directly addressing the issue of affect in perception, we explain our peculiar, low-level conception of affect as a form of worldinvolving intentionality that modulates (minimally) bodily behavior without necessarily possessing informational value of any kind. We then address the deficiency concerning affect in enactive accounts of perception by examining some exemplary forms of bodily affect that constrain perception. We show that bodily affect significantly contributes to (either limiting or enabling) our contact with the world in our perceptually operative attentive outlook, in a kind of perceptual interest or investment, and in social perception.


perception; enaction; embodiment; affection; phenomenology

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