Human Experience and the Enigma of Culture: Toward an Enactive Account of Cultural Practice

  • Cor Baerveldt
  • Theo Verheggen
  • Paul Voestermans


This paper deals with the way cultural psychology should deal with human experience. The common view about the relation between culture and experience holds that experience becomes “cultural” when people internalize or appropriate ready made cultural meanings. We contend that cultural forms themselves need to be dealt with in experiential terms. To this end we propose an “enactive” approach to cultural psychology. A central claim of enactivism is that experience is rooted within the organizational and operational autonomy of an acting system. Enactivism considers human experience to be constitutive for social and cultural phenomena. The main question of an enactive cultural psychology relates to the way human action becomes consensually coordinated. Both social psychologists who stress “sharedness” as the distinct mark of the social, and evolutionary psychologists who consider culture to derive from a uniform human mind, are criticized for overlooking the ongoing mutual tuning processes that give rise to socially and culturally patterned conduct.


Anorexia Nervosa Human Experience Cultural Meaning Central Claim Symbolic Order 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cor Baerveldt
    • 1
  • Theo Verheggen
    • 1
  • Paul Voestermans
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NijmegenThe Netherlands

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