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Towards Non-Representational Pretence: the Effect of Props and Players on the Development of Imaginative Play Zuzanna Rucinska University of Hertfordshire.

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Presentation on theme: "Towards Non-Representational Pretence: the Effect of Props and Players on the Development of Imaginative Play Zuzanna Rucinska University of Hertfordshire."— Presentation transcript:

1 Towards Non-Representational Pretence: the Effect of Props and Players on the Development of Imaginative Play Zuzanna Rucinska University of Hertfordshire KNEW 2013, Kazimierz Dolny, 22 August 2013

2 Outline Part I: Stage-Setting 1.Pretence: Standard Story 2.Radical Enactivism 3.Opening up of logical space for REC account of basic pretence 4.Structure of the dialectic Part II: Towards the Positive Account: what shapes/structures pretend play? 1.Object affordances: role of play props 1.Case of banana-phone play as imaginative transformation 2.Social affordances: role of play participants 3.Wider social context: role of narratives 2.Case of playing bears and tea party as following social scripts Conclusion

3 Part I: Stage-Setting

4 Pretence: Introduction Life begins in play, and play involves pretense, making things up, fiction. Predatory mammals engage in pretend chase-and-kill routines from almost as soon as they can move. From at least as early as about 18 months, when their use of language is still pretty primitive, human children engage in spontaneous pretense, as fun (…): they pretend that a banana is a telephone and that they are talking on it; (…) (cf. Leslie 1987). This behavior seems likely to be the primitive precursor of the highly sophisticated fictions that the word fiction naturally evokes... - Sainsbury 2010, p. 1 (emphasis added).

5 What is Pretence? 1) Special mental state 2) Myriad of activities: Object-substitution play, Role-play, Imaginary play, Acting, Deception, … Children of age 1.5 engage in what looks like pretend play: – 15m: cloth is a pillow while giggling (Piaget 1945/1962) – 18m: play banana-phone (Leslie 1987) – 28m: pour tea from empty teapot, feed a toy with cereal (Harris 2000) – 2.5-4y: role-play, imaginary play, enact being in a restaurant(overview: Liao & Gendler 2010) – 9m: engage in teasing! (Reddy 2004, 3). Animals seem to engage in pretend play (e.g.) and deceptive behaviours (e.g.) (Mitchell 2002) Distortion of reality: deficiency in children with ASD, excess in patients with Schizophrenia (to be elaborated) Umbrella Term

6 Explananda and Explanans What does pretending entail? Concepts Double Knowledge Imagination Intentionality Awareness Mapping/following rules Conditions of satisfaction (Lillard 1998) Mental Representations on the constitutive level How do we do it? (Spectrum) 1)Meta-representational Theory (Leslie) 2)Behaviourist Theory (Perner, Stich & Nichols, Harris & Kavanaugh, Lillard) 3)Intentionalist (Searle, Rakoczy) Mental Representations on the explanatory level

7 Pretence: Standard Story - What is required for pretence? -What makes pretence an intelligent action as opposed to mere thrashing about? Acting on plans (as opposed to, say, merely behaving reflexively or just thrashing about) requires being able to think about the world (Fodor 2008, p. 13) Leslie: stimulus (B) thinking-as (conceptualising B as Ph) response (Ph) Currie: stimulus (B) seeing-as (representing B as Ph) response (Ph) In both cases: inner mechanism that structures behaviour; representations conceptualised as premises (Leslie 1987, Nichols and Stich 2000, 2003) or mental images/maps

8 Non-representational account of basic cognition Assumption: B-Ph play is a case of genuine mindful action (pace Leslie, Sainsbury) Can it account for basic pretence? – Tension with the Standard View: Spaulding: …pretending, an activity that children engage in starting around age two, I think would be totally inexplicable by an account based purely on primary and secondary intersubjectivity. It remains to be seen how the Embodied Cognition account will explain what is going on when a child pretends … (2010, p. 130). – Challenge: Opens up conceptual space REC (Hutto & Myin 2013)

9 Is Pretence Necessarily Representational? Young children (non- or poor-language users) Option 1: Yes – Linguistic representations (Huttenlocher and Higgins, Davidson) Denies the possibility of pretence (at best proto-pretence) Option 2: Yes – Mental representations (Fodor, Piaget, Leslie, Perner, Nichols & Stich, Harris & Kavanaugh, Lillard, Currrie) Allows for genuine pretence (thinking as if, acting as if, intentionally acting as if) Option 3: No Allows for genuine pretence Logical Possibilities Table

10 Structure Is pretence representational? Constitutive – not interesting Explanatory. What do they explain? How can you treat one thing as another? (Imaginative transformations) YES: RepresentationsCounter: REC Independent argument NO: Affordances, Social Practices Why a child does not get confused? (Double knowledge) …

11 Part II: Towards the positive account

12 Non-representational Tools: 1.Object affordances (role of play props) 2.Social affordances: role of play participants 3.Wider social context: role of narratives

13 Aim Challenge to the weakest notion of representation: Curries Seeing-As Thesis: Enacted, on-line capacity for action (Doing-As) replaces off-line representational activity of the mind (Seeing As) in enabling basic imaginative transformations (explaining how it is possible to treat one thing as another) Adjusting Curries view with ORegan and Noes (2001) sensorimotor account of perception and Gibsons (1979)/Chemeros (2009) account of affordances

14 Positions in the Debate Leslie: stimulus (B) thinking-as (conceptualising B as Ph) response (Ph) Currie: stimulus (B) seeing-as (representing B as Ph) response (Ph) Rucinska: stimulus (B) doing-as (enacting B as Ph) response (Ph) + affordances?

15 Currie: Seeing-As 1.What is to See-As/Act as if? To imaginatively fill in the gap or to respond to the environment as it is transformed by imagination (Currie 2006, 275). To represent the world not as it is, but as it might be (Currie 2006, 276) To be directed at situations that do not actually obtain (Harris and Kavanaugh 1993) Imaginative Transformation: Minimally needed to account for having controlled experiences in the absence of appropriate stimuli Answer to How can you treat one thing as another?

16 Currie: Decentring 2. What enables seeing-as/as-if response to the environment? Decentring: Cognitive tool Underlies shifting perspectives Indicates the (relative) freedom from environmental constraint and sensitivity to representational content we think of as part of rationality (Currie 2004, 211). Over-intellectualised account: tokened thoughts

17 Accommodated Seeing-As To accommodate Seeing-As, REC account minimally has to: 1.Preserve the (relative) freedom from environmental constraint, or having controlled experiences in the absence of appropriate stimuli to account for the question How do we respond in flexible ways to that which is not perceptually present? 2.Get rid of the notion of representations of any form (sensitivity to representational content we think of as part of rationality). 3.= Imaginative Transformation without Decentring as such

18 Methods: 1.Object affordances (role of play props) 1)Pace Noe: Seeing-affordances-in the environment 2)Pace Chemero: acting on perceived affordances But is the concept of affordances adequate?

19 Seeing-affordances-in: Noes 1.0 affordances Directly perceiving possibilities of action Things in the environment, and properties of the environment, offer or afford the animal opportunities to do things (find shelter, climb up, hide under, etc.). (...) When you see a tree, you not only directly perceive a tree, but you directly perceive something up which you can climb (2004, 105). The immediate environment, thus, affords certain actions and resists others. Objects can afford novel possibilities, but it does not afford all sorts of play (not the case that anything goes).


21 Chemeros 2.0 Affordances as perceived possibilities of action Gibson (1979): affordances are neither in the environment, nor in the agent, but in the interactions. What is required is active exploration of the object: The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill (1979, p. 127). Chemero (2009): affordances are set up through a history of interactions – depend on an individual animals developmental history or the evolutionary history of the species, both of which occur in the context of the environment – more appropriate to understand affordances as being inherent not in animals, but in animal-environment systems. Affordances are relations (idem, 145) This leaves the possibility of the shifting of affordances and responding in flexible ways to that which is not perceptually present

22 Seeing affordances? For Gibson, to see an affordance is to directly perceive a familiar objects practical meaning or value (1986, 127), that is, to see it as suggesting a possible usage which can be taken up in action: a chair affords sitting to a creature capable of sitting, lateral terrain affords walking to a creature capable of perambulation, and so forth. In Gibsons ecological theory of vision, though affordances are external properties of objects, they are nevertheless relational properties – they are animal-relative, meaning that their perceptibility depends on the behavioural repertoire of the perceiver (Chemero 2003, pp.127-8). action possibilities readily perceivable by an actor (Norman 1988). Affordances "suggest" how an object may be interacted with. The actor brings past experiences to bear when evaluating a new affordance.

23 Problems with seeing affordances 1. Shift of problems Shift from how it is possible to see objects which are not there? to … to see affordances which are not there? How can objects afford special phone actions, such as, e.g., calling or dialing? (Bananas do not afford dialing because they do not have buttons) 2. Involuntarily invoking higher processes Seeing possibilities of action = knowing the possibilities in advance? (sensorimotor contingencies) Seeing all possibilities of action, evaluating them, and choosing one? You dont first perceive a ground as walkable and then walk on it; worry of over-conceptualisation

24 Alternatives McGrenere and Ho (2000): – Gibson intended an affordance to mean an action possibility available in the environment to an individual, independent of the individual's ability to perceive this possibility Gaver (1991): – Hidden Affordances: unperceived possibilities for action – False Affordances: perceiving non-existent possibilities of action (e.g., placebo button)

25 Structure Affordances 1.0 (Noe) In the Environment, Perceived 2.0 (Chemero) Relational, Perceived 3.0 (RECish) Relational, Enacted (Doing-As)

26 Why they are attractive… Whose line is it anyway? Props A9pA&playnext=1&list=PLF BA358B71 &feature=results_main A9pA&playnext=1&list=PLF BA358B71 &feature=results_main

27 Non-representational Tools: 1.Object affordances (role of play props) 2.Social affordances: role of play participants 3.Wider social context: role of narratives

28 2. Social context: Immediate (dialogical) Interactions (direct external factors) 1.Structured guidance of others - initiates what is being played and guides how it is being played showing how to hold a cup, which the child imitates. Mimicking others tea party play as responsiveness to them on the spot verbal feedback (this is not how you hold a cup). 2.Reactions of others (spectators) 1.Reassurance of smiles, gestures and actions of caregivers or fellow playmates. Even when not playing with a caregiver, a child at play is frequently in the presence of a caregiver, who approves or disapproves the play by reacting (e.g., with laughter and encouragement), which asserts to the child that this acceptable as a game. 2.Charades: seeing that their audience does not understand and respond to their interpretation of what is written of the paper, the actors adjust their behaviours to accommodate the understanding of the spectators, and explore another means of depicting the same thing.

29 Importance of social context Safety: affords exploration and innovation by feeling safe to break with convention; The intersubjective context scaffolds active exploration of objects and playing with conventional roles. Individuals exploration, in turn, allows one to break with norms in a way that does not threaten the norms, as the norms are socially established. Retaining normativity? – Social context determines whether there is a breakdown in the restaurant play or whether it is accommodated by restaurant with swords instead of cutlery play (what makes it correct or incorrect is the context at hand). (Creating meaning/meaningful actions?) – (De Jaegher and Di Paolos (2007) participatory sense-making: They suggest that novel meanings are established from mutual understanding; a shared meaning of what is played emerges when the pretenders adjust their performance to the audiences needs)

30 Non-representational Tools: 1.Object affordances (role of play props) 2.Social affordances: role of play participants 3.Wider social context: role of narratives

31 3. Engagement in narrative practices (indirect external factors) 1.History of past interactions within a social setting -recreating tea party routines one participated in -re-enacting what has been seen or shown without the need to internalize what has been learned as sets of rules 2.Weakly internalized narratives -enacted routines can be enhanced by stories, which in turn may motivate new forms of play and new routines. For example, one can engage in a restaurant scenario by enacting what one usually does in a restaurant and elaborating the play inspired by a story about sword-fighters. -narratives may provide the possibility of going beyond the immediacy of social routines and oil the wheels of elaboration, enabling possible counterfactual engagements. familiarity with narratives could allow children (and adults) to create new pretence scenarios, while using a specific pre- established set of characters and settings, (e.g., pretend-playing to be a waiter and a customer in a restaurant scenario, but improvising with the script). Narratives expand the range of acceptable or at least possible norms and practices.

32 Importance of external narratives -Structuring role is external to the subject (wide cognition) -It may be weakly internalized but NOT in the form of internalised rules of behaviour; narratives are themselves not mental-script- like; narratives are not as structured as rules (Hutto 2010) -Preserves normativity: -Routines depict a status-quo of appropriate behaviour, but with narratives, these are voiced and explained; in stories, we gain reasons for what is taken to be good and bad, what is moral and immoral behaviour. -Allows innovation: -Narratives, insofar as they portray unusual or alternative behaviors, can expand on accepted norms and increase the possibilities of play, as well as the possibilities of understanding others who are very different from us.

33 Conclusion: possibility of non- representational pretend play counting as intelligent behaviour (cognition) What structures pretend play?/What makes it more than mere thrashing about? Possibilities: A) game props affords various actions and types of play while limiting others – Allows for retention of normativity – But we should study affordances carefully B) social context affords exploration and innovation: – Safe environment and approval allows breaking with convention – Engaging with others – creating meaning, if meaning is use C) immersion in narrative practices – Provides an external structure of play, frames the play, makes the play non- accidental, not-random, without appeal to internalised mental scrips (plan) First attempt towards an enactive, towards non-representational account of basic pretence, laying groundwork for its application to further types of pretence for future research.

34 Thank you!

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