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Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Jean Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology
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From cognitivism to autopoiesis: Towards a computational framework for the embodied mind.
: First Online.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4099
Predictive processing (PP) approaches to the mind are increasingly popular in the cognitive sciences. This surge of interest is accompanied by a proliferation of philosophical arguments, which seek to either extend or oppose various aspects of the emerging framework. In particular, the question of how to position predictive processing with respect to enactive and embodied cognition has become a topic of intense debate. While these arguments are certainly of valuable scientific and philosophical merit, they risk underestimating the variety of approaches gathered under the predictive label. Here, we first present a basic review of neuroscientific, cognitive, and philosophical approaches to PP, to illustrate how these range from solidly cognitivist applications – with a firm commitment to modular, internalistic mental representation – to more moderate views emphasizing the importance of ‘body-representations’, and finally to those which fit comfortably with radically enactive, embodied, and dynamic theories of mind. Any nascent predictive processing theory (e.g., of attention or consciousness) must take into account this continuum of views, and associated theoretical commitments. As a final point, we illustrate how the Free Energy Principle (FEP) attempts to dissolve tension between internalist and externalist accounts of cognition, by providing a formal synthetic account of how internal ‘representations’ arise from autopoietic self-organization. The FEP thus furnishes empirically productive process theories (e.g., predictive processing) by which to guide discovery through the formal modelling of the embodied mind.
The anticipating brain is not a scientist: The free-energy principle from an ecological-enactive perspective.
Online first: 1–28.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4497
In this paper, we argue for a theoretical separation of the free-energy principle from Helmholtzian accounts of the predictive brain. The free-energy principle is a theoretical framework capturing the imperative for biological self-organization in information-theoretic terms. The free-energy principle has typically been connected with a Bayesian theory of predictive coding, and the latter is often taken to support a Helmholtzian theory of perception as unconscious inference. If our interpretation is right, however, a Helmholtzian view of perception is incompatible with Bayesian predictive coding under the free-energy principle. We argue that the free energy principle and the ecological and enactive approach to mind and life make for a much happier marriage of ideas. We make our argument based on three points. First we argue that the free energy principle applies to the whole animal–environment system, and not only to the brain. Second, we show that active inference, as understood by the free-energy principle, is incompatible with unconscious inference understood as analagous to scientific hypothesis-testing, the main tenet of a Helmholtzian view of perception. Third, we argue that the notion of inference at work in Bayesian predictive coding under the free-energy principle is too weak to support a Helmholtzian theory of perception. Taken together these points imply that the free energy principle is best understood in ecological and enactive terms set out in this paper.
Escobar J. M.
Autopoiesis and Darwinism.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2792
The purpose of this paper is to offer a critical approach to the theory of autopoiesis in order to see how it challenges mainstream Darwinism. In the first part of the paper, I characterize Darwinism from the concepts of natural selection, heredity, reproduction, and evolution. This characterization is absolutely schematic, and I hope not controversial at all, since my aim is to provide a general background for the discussion of the rest of the paper. The second part presents the main tenets of the theory of autopoiesis, also paying special attention to the concepts of natural selection, heredity, reproduction, and evolution. The third and final part considers some criticisms that have been directed against the theory and suggests some new ones. As I said, my intention is to offer a critical approach, so that I pretend to assess neither autopoiesis nor Darwinism. The assessment, it seems to me, would be a matter of scientific debate – not properly of philosophy. Therefore, given that my approach attempts to be a conceptual clarification, my contribution to the contemporary debate about Darwinism is twofold. On the one hand, I show that conceptually autopoiesis constitutes an important challenge to Darwinism, but on the other, I also show that some fundamental aspects of the theory appear to be both epistemologically and empirically problematic, which perhaps helps to understand why autopoiesis is not widely accepted in mainstream Darwinism.
Active inference, enactivism and the hermeneutics of social cognition.
: First Online.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4222
We distinguish between three philosophical views on the neuroscience of predictive models: predictive coding (associated with internal Bayesian models and prediction error minimization), predictive processing (associated with radical connectionism and ‘simple’ embodiment) and predictive engagement (associated with enactivist approaches to cognition). We examine the concept of active inference under each model and then ask how this concept informs discussions of social cognition. In this context we consider Frith and Friston’s proposal for a neural hermeneutics, and we explore the alternative model of enactivist hermeneutics.
free energy principle
Glasersfeld E. von
Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/1408
German translation: Chapter 13 in
Glasersfeld E. von (1997) Wege des Wissens [Ways of knowing: Constructivist explorations of thinking]
, Italian translation: Cognizione, costruzione della conoscenza, e insegnamento. In: Comune di Modena (ed.) (1990) Sistema educativo: Prospettive di mutamento (3). Franco Angeli, Modena: 133–155, Reprinted in: Matthews M. R. (ed.) (1991) History, philosophy, and science teaching. Teachers College Press, New York, Reprinted in: Matthews M. R. (ed.) (1998) Constructivism in science education. Kluwer, Dordrecht
Merleau-Ponty’s modification of phenomenology: Cognition, passion and philosophy.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4052
This paper problematizes the analogy that Hubert Dreyfus has presented between phenomenology and cognitive science. It argues that Dreyfus presents Merleau-Ponty’s modification of Husserl’s phenomenology in a misleading way. He ignores the idea of philosophy as a radical interrogation and self-responsibility that stems from Husserl’s work and recurs in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. The paper focuses on Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of the phenomenological reduction. It shows that his critical idea was not to restrict the scope of Husserl’s reductions but to study the conditions of possibility for the thetic acts. Merleau-Ponty argued, following Husserl’s texts, that the thetic acts rest on the basis of primordial pre-thetic experience. This layer of experience cannot, by its nature, be explicated or clarified, but it can be questioned and unveiled. This is the recurrent task of phenomenological philosophy, as Merleau-Ponty understands it.
Kitchener R. F.
A bibliography of philosophical work on Piaget.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3925
In compiling this bibliography – an idea first suggested by Reto Fetz – I have used ‘philosophical’ in the broadest sense of that term to include any kind of “conceptual analysis” devoted to key theoretical concepts, philosophical assumptions, substantial methodological questions, etc. What to include was often a matter of personal judgment but I have tried to be impartial and to include anything that might pass as being “philosophical.” I did not limit my choice of articles to those written by professional philosophers but also included the work of psychologists when it seemed appropriate. Undoubtedly I have overlooked work on Piaget that could be called philosophical; if so, I would appreciate being informed of this so that I may include it in the next revision.
McCulloch W. S.
Information in the head.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2825
Reprinted in: McCulloch R. (ed.) (1989) Collected works of Warren S. McCulloch. Intersystems, Salinas CA: 989–1006, Proceedings of the 9th International Significal Summer Conference, Amersfoort (Netherlands), 10–15 Aug. 1953
What makes biological organisation teleological?
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/4489
This paper argues that biological organisation can be legitimately conceived of as an intrinsically teleological causal regime. The core of the argument consists in establishing a connection between organisation and teleology through the concept of self-determination: biological organisation determines itself in the sense that the effects of its activity contribute to determine its own conditions of existence. We suggest that not any kind of circular regime realises self-determination, which should be specifically understood as self-constraint: in biological systems, in particular, self-constraint takes the form of closure, i.e. a network of mutually dependent constitutive constraints. We then explore the occurrence of intrinsic teleology in the biological domain and beyond. On the one hand, the organisational account might possibly concede that supra-organismal biological systems (as symbioses or ecosystems) could realise closure, and hence be teleological. On the other hand, the realisation of closure beyond the biological realm appears to be highly unlikely. In turn, the occurrence of simpler forms of self-determination remains a controversial issue, in particular with respect to the case of self-organising dissipative systems.
O’Regan J. K.
What is it like to see: A sensorimotor theory of perceptual experience.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2394
The paper proposes a way of bridging the gapbetween physical processes in the brain and the “felt” aspect of sensory experience. The approach is based onthe idea that experience is not generated by brainprocesses themselves, but rather is constituted by theway these brain processes enable a particular form of “give-and-take” between the perceiver and theenvironment. From this starting-point we are able tocharacterize the phenomenological differences betweenthe different sensory modalities in a more principledway than has been done in the past. We are also ableto approach the issues of visual awareness andconsciousness in a satisfactory way. Finally we consider a number of testable empirical consequences, one of which is the striking prediction of thephenomenon of “change blindness.”
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