Canonical affordances in context

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James Gibson’s concept of affordances was an attempt to undermine the traditional dualism of the objective and subjective. Gibson himself insisted on the continuity of “affordances in general” and those attached to human artifacts. However, a crucial distinction needs to be drawn between “affordances in general” and the “canonical affordances” that are connected primarily to artifacts. Canonical affordances are conventional and normative. It is only in such cases that it makes sense to talk of the affordance of the object. Chairs, for example, are for sitting-on, even though we may also use them in many other ways. A good deal of confusion has arisen in the discussion of affordances from (1) the failure to recognize the normative status of canonical affordances and (2) then generalizing from this special case.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-93
JournalAVANT: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2012


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