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Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Jean Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology
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What is this cognition that is supposed to be embodied?
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3949
Many cognitive scientists have recently championed the thesis that cognition is embodied. In principle, explicating this thesis should be relatively simple. There are, essentially, only two concepts involved: cognition and embodiment. After articulating what will here be meant by ‘embodiment’, this paper will draw attention to cases in which some advocates of embodied cognition apparently do not mean by ‘cognition’ what has typically been meant by ‘cognition’. Some advocates apparently mean to use ‘cognition’ not as a term for one, among many, causes of behavior, but for what has more often been called “behavior.” Some consequences for this proposal are considered.
Where do we end and where does the world begin? The case of insight meditation.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4358
This paper examines the experience of where we end and the rest of the world begins, that is, the sense of boundaries. Since meditators are recognized for their ability to introspect about the bodily level of experience, and in particular about their sense of boundaries, 27 senior meditators (those with more than 10, 000 hours of experience) were interviewed for this study. The main conclusions of this paper are that (a) the boundaries of the so-called “physical body” (body-as-object) are not equivalent to the individual’s sense of boundaries; (b) the sense of boundaries depends upon sensory activity; (c) the sense of boundaries should be defined according to its level of flexibility; (d) the sense of body ownership (the sense that it is one’s own body that undergoes an experience) cannot be reduced to the sense of boundaries; nevertheless, (e) the sense of ownership depends on the level of flexibility of the sense of boundaries.
sense of boundaries
sense of ownership.
Phenomenology, dynamical neural networks and brain function.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4008
Current cognitive science models of perception and action assume that the objects that we move toward and perceive are represented as determinate in our experience of them. A proper phenomenology of perception and action, however, shows that we experience objects indeterminately when we are perceiving them or moving toward them. This indeterminacy, as it relates to simple movement and perception, is captured in the proposed phenomenologically based recurrent network models of brain function. These models provide a possible foundation from which predicative structures may arise as an emergent phenomenon without the positing of a representing subject. These models go some way in addressing the dual constraints of phenomenological accuracy and neurophysiological plausibility that ought to guide all projects devoted to discovering the physical basis of human experience.
Christensen W. D.
Hooker C. A.
An interactivist-constructivist approach to intelligence: Self-directed anticipative learning.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4156
This paper outlines an original interactivist–constructivist (I-C) approach to modelling intelligence and learning as a dynamical embodied form of adaptiveness and explores some applications of I-C to understanding the way cognitive learning is realized in the brain. Two key ideas for conceptualizing intelligence within this framework are developed. These are: (1) intelligence is centrally concerned with the capacity for coherent, context-sensitive, self-directed management of interaction; and (2) the primary model for cognitive learning is anticipative skill construction. Self-directedness is a capacity for integrative process modulation which allows a system to “steer” itself through its world by anticipatively matching its own viability requirements to interaction with its environment. Because the adaptive interaction processes required of intelligent systems are too complex for effective action to be prespecified (e.g. genetically) learning is an important component of intelligence. A model of self-directed anticipative learning (SDAL) is formulated based on interactive skill construction, and argued to constitute a central constructivist process involved in cognitive development. SDAL illuminates the capacity of intelligent learners to start with the vague, poorly defined problems typically posed in realistic learning situations and progressively refine them, transforming them into problems with sufficient structure to guide the construction of a solution. Finally, some of the implications of I-C for modelling of the neuronal basis of intelligence and learning are explored; in particular, Quartz and Sejnowski’s recent neural constructivism paradigm, enriched by Montague and Sejnowski’s dopaminergic model of anticipative–predictive neural learning, is assessed as a promising, but incomplete, contribution to this approach. The paper concludes with a fourfold reflection on the divergence in cognitive modelling philosophy between the I-C and the traditional computational information processing approaches.
Jordan J. S.
The role of “control” in an embodied cognition.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4053
Borrett, Kelly, and Kwan follow the lead of Merleau-Ponty and develop a theory of neural-network modeling that emerges out of what they find wrong with current approaches to thought and action. Specifically, they take issue with “cognitivism” and its tendency to model cognitive agents as controlling, representational systems. While attempting to make the point that pre-predicative experience/action/place (i.e. grasping) involves neither representation nor control, the authors imply that control-theoretic concepts and representationalism necessarily go hand-in-hand. The purpose of the present paper is to demonstrate that this is not the case. Rather, it will be argued that such necessity is only assumed because the authors attempt to apply the control theory of servo-mechanisms to the behavior of organisms. By adopting this engineering control-theoretic perspective, the authors are led, as are most of the cognitivists with whom they disagree, to overlook critical aspects of how it is that biological systems do what they do. It is the ignoring of these critical aspects of biological control, due to the acceptance of an engineering approach to control, that makes it appear as though control theory and representationalism necessarily go hand-in-hand.
Keijzer F. A.
Modeling human experience?
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4009
Borrett, Kelly and Kwan claim to provide neural-network models of important aspects of subjective human experience. To sidestep the long-standing and assumedly insurmountable problems with providing models of inner experience, they turn to a body-centered interpretation of experience, drawn from the work of Merleau-Ponty. This body-centered interpretation makes experience more tractable by linking it closely with bodily movement. However, when it comes to modeling, Borrett et al. ignore this body-centered interpretation and revert back to the traditional view of inner experience as existing apart from the body. The result is uninteresting on two counts. The models that they present cannot be taken seriously as models of real inner experience. Additionally, these models do not apply to or extend the idea of a different, body-centered interpretation of experience either.
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