Doing without representations which specify what to do

Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):269-302 (1998)
Abstract
A discussion is going on in cognitive science about the use of representations to explain how intelligent behavior is generated. In the traditional view, an organism is thought to incorporate representations. These provide an internal model that is used by the organism to instruct the motor apparatus so that the adaptive and anticipatory characteristics of behavior come about. So-called interactionists claim that this representational specification of behavior raises more problems than it solves. In their view, the notion of internal representational models is to be dispensed with. Instead, behavior is to be explained as the intricate interaction between an embodied organism and the specific make up of an environment. The problem with a non-representational interactive account is that it has severe difficulties with anticipatory, future oriented behavior. The present paper extends the interactionist conceptual framework by drawing on ideas derived from the study of morphogenesis. This extended interactionist framework is based on an analysis of anticipatory behavior as a process which involves multiple spatio-temporal scales of neural, bodily and environmental dynamics. This extended conceptual framework provides the outlines for an explanation of anticipatory behavior without involving a representational specification of future goal states
Keywords Cognition  Environment  Organism  Representation  Science
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