Minimalism is a useful element in the constructivist arsenal against objectivism. By reducing actions and sensory feedback to a bare minimum, it becomes possible to obtain a complete description of the sensory-motor dynamics; and this in turn reveals that the object of perception does not pre-exist in itself, but is actually constituted during the process of observation. In this paper, this minimalist approach is deployed for the case of the recognition of “the Other.” It is shown that the perception of another intentional subject is based on properties that are intrinsic to the joint perceptual activity itself.
Dynamicism has provided cognitive science with important tools to understand some aspects of “how cognitive agents work” but the issue of “what makes something cognitive” has not been sufficiently addressed yet and, we argue, the former will never be complete without the latter. Behavioristic characterizations of cognitive properties are criticized in favor of an organizational approach focused on the internal dynamic relationships that constitute cognitive systems. A definition of cognition as adaptive-autonomy in the embodied and situated neurodynamic domain is provided: the compensatory regulation of a web of stability dependencies between sensorimotor structures is created and pre served during a historical/developmental process. We highlight the functional role of emotional embodiment: internal bioregulatory processes coupled to the formation and adaptive regulation of neurodynamic autonomy. Finally, we discuss a “minimally cognitive behavior program” in evolutionary simulation modeling suggesting that much is to be learned from a complementary “minimally cognitive organization program”
A problem of action selection emerges in complex and even not so complex interactive agents: what to do next? The problem of action selection occurs equally for natural and for artificial agents for any embodied agent. The obvious solution to this problem constitutes a form of representation, interactive representation, that is arguably the fundamental form of representation. More carefully, interactive representation satisfies a criterion for representation that no other model of representation in the literature can satisfy or even attempts to address: the possibility of systemdetectable representational error. It also resolves and avoids myriad other problematics of representation and integrates or opens the door to many additional mental processes and phenomena, such as motivation.
Upshot: The “Extended Mind Thesis” claims that cognitive processes are situated, embodied and goal-oriented actions that unfold in real world interactions with the immediate environment, cultural tools and other persons. The body and the “outside” world, undoubtedly, have a crucial influence, driving human beings’ cognitive processes. In his book, Andy Clark goes slightly further by claiming that the mind is often extended into the body and the world.
W. Ross Ashby was a founder of both cybernetics and general systems theory. His systems theory outlined the operational structure of models and observers, while his cybernetics outlined the functional architecture of adaptive systems. His homeostat demonstrated how an adaptive control system, equipped with a sufficiently complex repertoire of possible alternative structures, could maintain stability in the face of highly varied and challenging environmental perturbations. The device illustrates his ‘law of requisite variety’, i.e. that a controller needs at least as many internal states as those in the system being controlled. The homeostat provided an early example of how an adaptive control system might be ill-defined vis – vis its designer, nevertheless solve complex problems. Ashby ran into insurmountable difficulties when he attempted to scale up the homeostat, and consequently never achieved the general purpose, brainlike devices that he had initially sought. Nonetheless, the homeostat continues to offer useful insights as to how the large analogue, adaptive networks in biological brains might achieve stability.
Recent work in "embodied, embedded" cognitive science links mental contents to large-scale distributed effects: dynamic patterns implicating elements of (what are traditionally seen as) sensing, reasoning and acting. Central to this approach is an idea of biological cognition as profoundly "action-oriented" - geared not to the creation of rich, passive inner models of the world, but to the cheap and efficient production of real-world action in real-world context. A case in point is Hurley's (1998) account of the profound role of motor output in fixing the contents of conscious visual awareness – an account that also emphasizes distributed vehicles and long-range dynamical loops. Such stories can seem dramatically opposed to accounts, such as Milner and Goodale (1995), that stress relatively local mechanisms and that posit firm divisions between processes of visual awareness and of visuomotor action. But such accounts, I argue, can be deeply complimentary and together illustrate an important lesson. The lesson is that cognition may be embodied and action-oriented in two distinct – but complimentary – ways. There is a way of being embodied and action-oriented that implies being closely geared to the fine-grained control of low level effectors (hands, arms, legs and so on). And there is a way of being embodied and action-oriented that implies being closely geared to gross motor intentions, current goals, and schematic motor plans. Human cognition, I suggest, is embodied and action- oriented in both these ways. But the neural systems involved, and the size and scope of the key dynamic loops, may be quite different in each case.
The last fifteen years have seen a sea change in cognitive science where issues of embodiment, situatedness and dynamics have become central to the explanatory resources in use. This paper evaluates the suggestion that representation should be eliminated from the explanative vocabulary of cognitive science. We trace the history of the issue by examining the usefulness of action-oriented representation (AOR), and we reassess if there is still a good explanatory role for the notion of representation in contemporary cognitive science by looking at contexts of re-use, contexts of informational fusion and elaboration, contexts of virtualist perception, and contexts of representational extension, restructuring and substitution. We claim that in these contexts the notion of representation continues to fulfill a valuable function in linking the inner informational economy of cognitive systems to how they interact and couple with the world, and that the role of representation in explanation has not been superseded by enactive and radical embodied theories of cognition. The final section of the paper suggests that we might be better off adopting a more pluralist research perspective, accepting that certain branches of cognitive science seem to require the positing of representations in order to develop, whereas others (e.g. research into minimal cognitive systems), do not appear to require it. We conclude that trying to suppress the notion of representation in all areas of cognitive science is seriously misguided.
This paper discusses the phenomenological dimension of social understanding. The author’s general hypothesis is that complex forms of social understanding that biological agents especially humans show are based on two mechanisms: 1 the bodily, experiential dynamics of emphatic resonance and 2 the biographic reconstruction of a communication situation. The latter requires the agent’s bodily experiences as the point of reference for the reconstruction process. This hypothesis is derived from discussions in philosophy, natural sciences, and cognitive science on the social embodiment of cognition and understanding. Evidence comes from studies on social cognition in primates, infants, and autistic people that are interpreted in terms of the “mind-experiencing” hypothesis. The second part of the paper sketches an '‘interactive’’ experiment that investigates the dynamic coupling of a robot with its environment. This example is used to discuss the role of the human observer and designer as an active, embodied agent who is biased toward interpreting the world in terms of intentionality and explanation. The paper describes how this aspect can influence the processes of understanding and interpretation of the behavior of autonomous robotic agents. The author concludes by stressing the need to overcome the distinction between computationalism and phenomenology in order to develop complex artificial systems.
Excerpt: The purpose of the current chapter is to explore what is implied when cognitive scientists describe cognition as embodied, embedded, or situated (Chemero, 2009; Clancey, 1997; Clark, 1997, 1999, 2003; Dawson et al., 2010; Dourish, 2001; Shapiro, 2011; Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1991). This will be accomplished by contrasting these ideas with some traditional foundations of standard cognitive science (Dawson, 1998). In so doing, issues related to Shapiro’s (2011) three themes of conceptualization, replacement, and constitution are developed.