DU Talk: Can we get Chomsky to shake hands with Merleau-Ponty?

A Seminar at the Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi, by Prof Nagarjuna G, and DurgaPrasad Karnam, HBCSE, TIFR

Can we get rationalists to shake hands with phenomenologists? An opportunity arises by characterising what is peculiar to the human cognitive condition within the debates between cognitivism and phenomenology, mainly.
We present an argument that we need to look for predominance but not peculiarity on the question of characterising beingHuman.
We situate the debate, by extending Alva Noë’s action based perception, and James Gibson’s concept of affordances on the one hand; and Noam Chomsky’s and Michael Corballis’ characterization of human language, in terms of generative syntax and recursive structure respectively, on the other.
To reconcile such opposing camps in cognitive science, we present an ontological framework, which defines a cognitive agent as a sensory-motor-network (SMN), with iterative actions as beats, and recursive halting action patterns (HAPs) as the roots of epistemology. The core proposal is to differentiate HAPs as habit-habitat and memet-mematat action-niche pairs, and to situate all the cultural practices between the pairs.
It is presented as a possible way forward, bringing rational behaviorist and phenomenological perspectives together.