Katarzyna Bartoszynska responds to Milan Terlunen

Milan Terlunen’s discussion of automata was a fascinating, and enormously generative, way of framing questions about the active/passive distinction in reference to readers! Terlunen helps us recognize that processing information is not inherently active, or at least, not in the sense that we care about, as a creative engagement that can produce novel results (sorry, couldn’t resist).

I wondered about points #6 and #7 on Terlunen’s list, and whether they necessarily followed from Auyoung’s argument. #7 is perhaps too big a question to tackle in this space, though one that I suspect is at the heart of some of the existential angst that Carolyn Dever describes, so I’ll restrict myself to #6. Certainly, Auyoung wants us to engage with a kind of reading that precedes the interpretation we are normally so fond of, but I do not know that she goes so far as to say that ordinary readers don’t, or rarely engage in such work. The question of whether they do seems beyond the scope of the book, and I wonder if Terlunen makes the claim partly to shore up the notion of mental representation as a sufficient end in itself. But it also makes me wonder about the interpretations of “ordinary” readers – where we find them, and what we make of them.

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