are affordances properties of the environment?

March 20, 2007

Yesterday we had a discussion with Mart about whether the affordances are the properties of the environment (or tools).

On my understanding the properties are felt rather objective characteristics, and thus i argued that affordances cannot be the objective properties of the environment (and tools). My understanding of affordances relates them rather with the interaction in the activity systems (where of course tools, context and environment are involved as constraints). Affordances are emergent by nature.

However, Mart pointed out (which i agreed partly) that properties emerge only if there is the perceiver (e.g. redness of something depends of the viewer). If to follow this tradition, of course we can say that affordances are the properties of the environment (because they emerge in the interaction of the subject with the environment). Some philosophical traditions would consider all the existing objects with their properties the result of our imagination and perception…some see primary and secondary properties.


Quality refers to the inherent or distinctive characteristics or properties of a person, object, process or other thing.

Anyway..it seems we were considering different property-meanings and there seems no contraversity in the whole understanding of the notion of affordances.

I was searching some information about property definitions, but it seems we need some sentences that explain what is a property if we write about affordances:
web ontology language reference
Object properties
Locke’s epistemology Locke explained
Primary and secondary distinction
Properties explained
Affordances as dispositional properties


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