The role of "control" in an embodied cognition

Philosophical Psychology 13 (2):233 – 237 (2000)
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
Keywords Control  Model  Science  Borrett, D  Kelly, S  Kwan, H  Merleau-ponty
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