The aim of this paper is to defend the structural concept of representation, as defined by homomorphisms, against its main objections, namely: logical objections, the objection from misrepresentation, theobjection from failing necessity, and the copy theory objection. The logical objections can be met by reserving the relation.
A final version of this paper is in press as: Bickhard, M. H. (in press). The Dynamic Emergence of Representation. In H. Clapin, P. Staines, P. Slezak (Eds.) Representation in Mind: New Approaches to Mental Representation. Praeger.
Function emerges in certain kinds of far-from-equilibrium systems. One important kind of function is that of interactive anticipation, an adaptedness to temporal complexity. Interactive anticipation is the locus of the emergence of normative representational content, and, thus, of representation in general: interactive anticipation is the naturalistic core of the evolution of cognition. Higher forms of such anticipation are involved in the subsequent macro-evolutionary sequence of learning, emotions, and reflexive consciousness.
The representational content or subject matter of a picture is normally distinguished from various non-representational components of meaning involved in artworks, such as expressive, stylistic or intentional factors. However, I show how such non subject matter components may themselves be analyzed in content terms, if two different categories of representation are recognized--aspect indication for stylistic etc. factors, and normal representation for subject matter content. On the account given, the relevant kinds of content are hierarchically structured, with relatively unconceptualized lower level (...) aspectual contents encoding or symbolizing higher level conceptualized representational subject matter. Such an account is strongly supported by the latest findings of cognitive science regarding levels of conceptualization. The paper also demonstrates how the account given is compatible with the actual pictorial competence of normal viewers of visual artworks. (shrink)
Intelligent systems are faced with the problem of securing a principled (ideally, veridical) relationship between the world and its internal representation. I propose a unified approach to visual representation, addressing both the needs of superordinate and basic-level categorization and of identification of specific instances of familiar categories. According to the proposed theory, a shape is represented by its similarity to a number of reference shapes, measured in a high-dimensional space of elementary features. This amounts to embedding the stimulus in a (...) low-dimensional proximal shape space. That space turns out to support representation of distal shape similarities which is veridical in the sense of Shepard's (1968) notion of second-order isomorphism (i.e., correspondence between distal and proximal similarities among shapes, rather than between distal shapes and their proximal representations). Furthermore, a general expression for similarity between two stimuli, based on comparisons to reference shapes, can be used to derive models of perceived similarity ranging from continuous, symmetric, and hierarchical, as in the multidimensional scaling models (Shepard, 1980), to discrete and non-hierarchical, as in the general contrast models (Tversky, 1977; Shepard and Arabie, 1979). (shrink)
More than ever, it is in vogue to argue that no norms either play a role in or directly follow from the theory of mental content. In this paper, I present an intuitive theory of intentionality (including a theory of mental content) on which norms are constitutive of the intentional properties of attitude and content in order to show that this trend is misguided. Although this theory of intentionality—the teleological theory of intentional representation—does involve a commitment to representational norms, these (...) norms are not problematic in the way critics have suggested they would be. In particular, these norms do not guide thinking by motivating intentional agents to (intentionally) accord with them; as a result, no obvious vicious regress threatens the theory. In the final section of this paper, I argue that accepting this teleological theory of intentionality need not commit one to thinking that intentionality is the product of natural selection. (shrink)
According to Jerry Fodor’s atomistic theory of content, subjects’ dispositions to token mentalese terms in counterfactual circumstances fix the contents of those terms. I argue that the pattern of counterfactual tokenings alone does not satisfactorily fix content; if Fodor’s appeal to patterns of counterfactual tokenings has any chance of assigning correct extensions, Fodor must take into account the contents of subjects’ various mental states at the times of those tokenings. However, to do so, Fodor must abandon his semantic atomism. And (...) while Fodor has recently qualified his atomism, the cognitively holistic nature of dispositions continues to undermine his view. (shrink)
Twentieth century philosophy and psychology have been peculiarly averse to mental images. Throughout nearly two and a half millennia of philosophical wrangling, from Aristotle to Hume to Bergson, images (perceptual and quasi-perceptual experiences), sometimes under the alias of "ideas", were almost universally considered to be both the prime contents of consciousness, and the vehicles of cognition. The founding fathers of experimental psychology saw no reason to dissent from this view, it was commonsensical, and true to the lived experience of conscious (...) thinking. However, early in this century, just about when the behaviorist revolution in psychology was loudly declaring the scientific illegitimacy of any attempt to study consciousness, and the concomitant non-existence of imagery (Watson, 1913; see Thomas, 1989), philosophy was undergoing its "linguistic turn", a turn to seeing philosophy as essentially about language rather than the world, even the 'inner' world. For decades, the very concept of the mental image was suspect, and it was certainly banished from playing any major role in theories of mind and of thinking. Ralph Ellis' Questioning Consciousness, together with the recent speculations of certain influential neuroscientists (Edelman, 1992; Damasio, 1994), may be signaling the end this unusual era. (shrink)