The human ability to represent, conceptualize, and reason about mind and behavior is one of the greatest achievements of human evolution and is made possible by a “folk theory of mind” — a sophisticated conceptual framework that relates different mental states to each other and connects them to behavior. This chapter examines the nature and elements of this framework and its central functions for social cognition. As a conceptual framework, the folk theory of mind operates prior to any particular (...) conscious or unconscious cognition and provides the “framing” or interpretation of that cognition. Central to this framing is the concept of intentionality, which distinguishes intentional action (caused by the agent’s intention and decision) from unintentional behavior (caused by internal or external events without the intervention of the agent’s decision). A second important distinction separates publicly observable from publicly unobservable (i.e., mental) events. Together, the two distinctions define the kinds of events in social interaction that people attend to, wonder about, and try to explain. A special focus of this chapter is the powerful tool of behavior explanation, which relies on the folk theory of mind but is also intimately tied to social demands and to the perceiver’s social goals. A full understanding of social cognition must consider the folk theory of mind as the conceptual underpinning of all (conscious and unconscious) perception and thinking about the social world. (shrink)
According to embodied cognition, the philosophical and empirical literature on theory of mind is misguided. Embodied cognition rejects the idea that social cognition requires theory of mind. It regards the intramural debate between the Theory Theory and the Simulation Theory as irrelevant, and it dismisses the empirical studies on theory of mind as ill conceived and misleading. Embodied cognition provides a novel deflationary account of social cognition that does not depend on theory of mind. In (...) this chapter, l describe embodied cognition’s alternative to theory of mind and discuss three challenges it faces. (shrink)
Some of the papers in this special issue distribute cognition between what is going on inside individual cognizers' heads and their outside worlds; others distribute cognition among different individual cognizers. Turing's criterion for cognition was individual, autonomous input/output capacity. It is not clear that distributed cognition could pass the Turing Test.
Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition and metacognition are (...) part of a continuum and that both are highly interactive. The tenets of this view are explained by reviewing some of the core assumptions of the situated and distribute approach to cognition and then further elaborated by exploring the notions of active vision, visual complexity, affordance landscape and cue structure. The way visual cues are structured and the way interaction is designed can make an important difference in the ease and effectiveness of cognition and metacognition. Documents that make effective use of markers such as headings, callouts, italics can improve students' ability to comprehend documents and 'plan' the way they review and process content. Interaction can be designed to improve 'the proximal zone of planning' - the look ahead and apprehension of what is nearby in activity space that facilitates decisions. This final concept is elaborated in a discussion of how e-newspapers combine effective visual and interactive design to enhance user control over their reading experience. (shrink)
The standard philosophical and folk-psychological accounts of cognition and action credit us with too much spontaneity in our activities and projects. We are taken to be fundamentally active rather than reactive, to project our needs and aims and deploy our full supporting arsenal of cognitive instruments upon an essentially passive environment. The corrected point of view presented here balances this image of active agency with an appreciation of how we are also continually responding to the world, that is, to (...) the pragmatic situations that effectively select subsets of our cognitive resources to be at our disposal in generating responses. The result is a superseding of the standard Cognitive Integrationist picture by a model of a structurally divided mind, comprising a multiplicity of diverse and sometimes-conflicting standpoints, personas, and wills whose elicitation is a complex function of agent intentions and plans, the encountered environment, past experience, and temporal sequence. According to this model, the manifold stored representations constituting a person’s cognitive endowment do not form a single integrated network all equally ready for use. Cognition at any given moment is limited to drawing upon only a subset of one’s perspective, the perspect that is activated in accordance with the specific mental task or situation (the pragmatic context) that one perceives oneself to be facing. The system enlists the environmental context as trigger for practical and theoretical activity, based upon the agent’s prior experience. Though susceptible to certain kinds of error, and not inherently inclined toward innovative thinking, it enables the generally efficient use of our enormous cognitive endowments in conducting our lives in real time. (shrink)
Embodied cognition is sweeping the planet. On a non-embodied approach, the sensory system informs the cognitive system and the motor system does the cognitive system’s bidding. There are causal relations between the systems but the sensory and motor systems are not constitutive of cognition. For embodied views, the relation to the sensori-motor system to cognition is constitutive, not just causal. This paper examines some recent empirical evidence used to support the view that cognition is embodied and (...) raises questions about some of the claims being made by supporters. (shrink)
This paper introduces a new, expanded range of relevant cognitive psychological research on collaborative recall and social memory to the philosophical debate on extended and distributed cognition. We start by examining the case for extended cognition based on the complementarity of inner and outer resources, by which neural, bodily, social, and environmental resources with disparate but complementary properties are integrated into hybrid cognitive systems, transforming or augmenting the nature of remembering or decision-making. Adams and Aizawa, noting this distinctive (...) complementarity argument, say that they agree with it completely: but they describe it as “a non-revolutionary approach” which leaves “the cognitive psychology of memory as the study of processes that take place, essentially without exception, within nervous systems.” In response, we carve out, on distinct conceptual and empirical grounds, a rich middle ground between internalist forms of cognitivism and radical anti-cognitivism. Drawing both on extended cognition literature and on Sterelny’s account of the “scaffolded mind” (this issue), we develop a multidimensional framework for understanding varying relations between agents and external resources, both technological and social. On this basis we argue that, independent of any more “revolutionary” metaphysical claims about the partial constitution of cognitive processes by external resources, a thesis of scaffolded or distributed cognition can substantially influence or transform explanatory practice in cognitive science. Critics also cite various empirical results as evidence against the idea that remembering can extend beyond skull and skin. We respond with a more principled, representative survey of the scientific psychology of memory, focussing in particular on robust recent empirical traditions for the study of collaborative recall and transactive social memory. We describe our own empirical research on socially distributed remembering, aimed at identifying conditions for mnemonic emergence in collaborative groups. Philosophical debates about extended, embedded, and distributed cognition can thus make richer, mutually beneficial contact with independently motivated research programs in the cognitive psychology of memory. (shrink)
Although the enactive approach has been very successful in explaining many basic social interactions in terms of embodied practices, there is still much work to be done when it comes to higher forms of social cognition. In this article, we discuss and evaluate two recent proposals by Shaun Gallagher and Daniel Hutto that try to bridge this ‘cognitive gap’ by appealing to the notion of narrative practice. Although we are enthusiastic about these proposals, we argue that (i) it is (...) difficult to see them as continuous with the enactivist notion of direct coupling, and (ii) the failure to account for folk psychological action interpretation suggests that the enactive approach should adopt a broader notion of coupling. (shrink)
To know is to cognize, to cognize is to be a culturally bounded, rationality-bounded and environmentally located agent. Knowledge and cognition are thus dual aspects of human sociality. If social epistemology has the formation, acquisition, mediation, transmission and dissemination of knowledge in complex communities of knowers as its subject matter, then its third party character is essentially stigmergic. In its most generic formulation, stigmergy is the phenomenon of indirect communication mediated by modifications of the environment. Extending this notion one (...) might conceive of social stigmergy as the extra-cranial analog of an artifcial neural network providing epistemic structure. This paper recommends a stigmergic framework for social epistemology to account for the supposed tension between individual action, wants and beliefs and the social corpora. We also propose that the so-called "extended mind" thesis offers the requisite stigmergic cognitive analog to stigmergic knowledge. Stigmergy as a theory of interaction within complex systems theory is illustrated through an example that runs on a particle swarm optimization algorithm. (shrink)
A central finding in experimental research identified with Embodied Cognition (EC) is that understanding actions involves their embodied simulation, i.e. executing some processes involved in performing these actions. Extending these findings, I argue that reenactment – the overt embodied simulation of actions and practices, including especially communicative actions and practices, within utterances – makes it possible to forge an integrated EC-based account of linguistic meaning. In particular, I argue: (a) that remote entities can be referred to by reenacting actions (...) performed with them; (b) that the use of grammatical constructions can be conceived of as the reenactment of linguistic action routines; (c) that complex enunciational structures (reported speech, irony, etc.) involve a separate level of reenactment, on which characters are presented as interacting with one another within the utterance; (d) that the segmentation of long utterances into shorter units involves the reenactment of brief audience interventions between units; and (e) that the overall meaning of an utterance can be stated in reenactment terms. The notion of reenactment provides a conceptual framework for accounting for aspects of language that are usually thought to be outside the reach of EC in an EC framework, thus supporting a view of meaning and linguistic content as thoroughly grounded in action and interaction. (shrink)
One of the central insights of the embodied cognition (EC) movement is that cognition is closely tied to action. In this paper, I formulate an EC-inspired hypothesis concerning social cognition. In this domain, most think that our capacity to understand and interact with one another is best explained by appeal to some form of mindreading. I argue that prominent accounts of mindreading likely contain a significant lacuna. Evidence indicates that what I call an agent’s actional processes and (...) states—her goals, needs, intentions, desires, and so on—likely play important roles in and for mindreading processes. If so, a full understanding of mindreading processes and their role in cognition more broadly will require an understanding of how actional mental processes interact with, influence, or take part in mindreading processes. (shrink)
Thirty years ago, grounded cognition had roots in philosophy, perception, cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuropsychology. During the next 20 years, grounded cognition continued developing in these areas, and it also took new forms in robotics, cognitive ecology, cognitive neuroscience, and developmental psychology. In the past 10 years, research on grounded cognition has grown rapidly, especially in cognitive neuroscience, social neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social psychology, and developmental psychology. Currently, grounded cognition appears to be achieving (...) increased acceptance throughout cognitive science, shifting from relatively minor status to increasing importance. Nevertheless, researchers wonder whether grounded mechanisms lie at the heart of the cognitive system or are peripheral to classic symbolic mechanisms. Although grounded cognition is currently dominated by demonstration experiments in the absence of well-developed theories, the area is likely to become increasingly theory driven over the next 30 years. Another likely development is the increased incorporation of grounding mechanisms into cognitive architectures and into accounts of classic cognitive phenomena. As this incorporation occurs, much functionality of these architectures and phenomena is likely to remain, along with many original mechanisms. Future theories of grounded cognition are likely to be heavily influenced by both cognitive neuroscience and social neuroscience, and also by developmental science and robotics. Aspects from the three major perspectives in cognitive science—classic symbolic architectures, statistical/dynamical systems, and grounded cognition—will probably be integrated increasingly in future theories, each capturing indispensable aspects of intelligence. (shrink)
0. Platitudinously, cognitive science is the science of cognition. Cognition is usually defined as something like the process of acquiring, retaining and applying knowledge. To a first approximation, therefore, cognitive science is the science of knowing. Knowing is a relation between the knower and the known. Typically, although not always, what is known involves the environment external to the knower. Thus knowing typically involves a relation between the agent and the external environment. It is not internal to the (...) agent, for the internal may be the same whether or not it is related to the external in a way that constitutes knowing. Cognition enables agents to achieve their goals by adjusting their actions appropriately to the environment. Such adjustment requires what is internal to the agent to be in some sense in line with what is external; that matching depends on both internal and external sides. Thus if cognitive science were restricted to what is internal to the agent, it would lose sight of its primary object of study. Although cognition depends on both the internal and the external, one can try to analyse it into internal and external factors. Call a state S narrow if and only if whether an agent is in S at a time t depends only on the total internal qualitative state of S at t, so that if one agent in one possible situation is internally an exact duplicate of another agent.. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson has presented several arguments that seek to cast doubt on the idea that cognition can be factorized into internal and external components. In the first section of this paper, I attempt to evaluate these arguments. My conclusion will be that these arguments establish several highly important points, but in the end these arguments fail to cast any doubt either on the idea that cognitive science should be largely concerned with internal mental processes, or on the idea that (...)cognition can be analysed in terms of the existence of a suitable connection between internal and external components. I shall present an argument for the conclusion that cognition involves certain causal processes that are entirely internal. (shrink)
Abstract In this article, we investigate the merits of an enactive view of cognition for the contemporary debate about social cognition. If enactivism is to be a genuine alternative to classic cognitivism, it should be able to bridge the “cognitive gap”, i.e. provide us with a convincing account of those higher forms of cognition that have traditionally been the focus of its cognitivist opponents. We show that, when it comes to social cognition, current articulations of enactivism (...) are—despite their celebrated successes in explaining some cases of social interaction—not yet up to the task. This is because they (1) do not pay sufficient attention to the role of offline processing or “decoupling”, and (2) obscure the cognitive gap by overemphasizing the role of phenomenology. We argue that the main challenge for the enactive view will be to acknowledge the importance of both coupled (online) and decoupled (offline) processes for basic and advanced forms of (social) cognition. To meet this challenge, we articulate a dynamic embodied view of cognition. We illustrate the fruitfulness of this approach by recourse to recent findings on false belief understanding. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-23 DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9223-1 Authors Leon C. de Bruin, Department of Philosophy II, Ruhr-University Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany Lena Kästner, Department of Philosophy II, Ruhr-University Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online ISSN 1572-8676 Print ISSN 1568-7759. (shrink)
This paper will defend the cognitivist view of cognition against recent challenges from Andy Clark and Richard Menary. It will also indicate the important theoretical role that cognitivism plays in understanding some of the core issues surrounding the hypothesis of extended cognition.
The Hypothesis of Extended Cognition (HEC)—that many cognitive processes are carried out by a hybrid coalition of neural, bodily and environmental factors—entails that the intentional states that are reasons for action might best be ascribed to wider entities of which individual persons are only parts. I look at different kinds of extended cognition and agency, exploring their consequences for concerns about the moral agency and personal responsibility of such extended entities. Can extended entities be moral agents and bear (...) responsibility for actions, in addition to or in place of the individuals typically held responsible? What does it mean to be autonomous when one’s cognition is influenced and supported by a milieu of environmental factors? To answer these questions, I explore strong parallels between HEC’s critique of individualism in cognition, and feminist critiques of individualist accounts of self, agency, and autonomy. This relational and social conception of autonomous agency, as scaffolded and supported (or undermined and impaired) by a milieu of social, relational, and normative factors, has important lessons for HEC. Drawing together these two visions of distributed and decentralized aspects of personhood highlights how cognition, action, and responsibility are inextricably linked. It also encourages a reconceptualization of all cognition and all concerns about responsibility for actions, not simply as sometimes extended around individuals, but as fundamentally communal, social, and normative, with individual cognition and individual moral responsibility being derivative special cases, not the paradigm examples. Individuals are merely one of many possible loci of cognition, action, and responsibility. (shrink)
Researchers in the enactivist tradition have recently argued that social interaction can constitute social cognition, rather than simply serve as the context for social cognition. They contend that a focus on social interaction corrects the overemphasis on mechanisms inside the individual in the explanation of social cognition. I critically assess enactivism’s claims about the explanatory role of social interaction in social cognition. After sketching the enactivist approach to cognition in general and social cognition in (...) particular, I identify problems with an enactivist taxonomy of roles for social interaction in the explanation of social cognition (contextual, enabling, and constitutive). In particular, I show that this enactivist taxonomy does not clearly distinguish between enabling conditions and constitutive elements, which would make them in danger of committing the coupling-constitution fallacy found in some attempts to extend cognition. I explore resources enactivism has to more clearly demarcate constitutive parts of a cognitive system, but identify problems in applying them to some of the main cases of social cognition enactivists characterize as being constituted by social interaction. I offer the mechanistic approach to explanation as an alternative that captures much of what enactivists want to say about the relations between social and individual levels, but views social interactions from the perspective of embedded cognition rather than as being constitutive of social cognition. (shrink)
Embodied social cognition (ESC) aims to explicate how our embodiment shapes our knowledge of others, and in what this knowledge of others consists. Although there is much diversity amongst ESC accounts, common to all these accounts is the idea that our normal everyday interactions consist in non-mentalistic embodied engagements. In recent years, several theorists have developed and defended innovative and controversial accounts of ESC. These accounts challenge, and offer deflationary alternatives to, the standard cognitivist accounts of social cognition. (...) As ESC accounts grow in number and prominence, the time has come for a dedicated, sustained debate on ESC and its most controversial and innovative elements. The goal of this special issue is to host such a debate with the aim of bringing clarity to the discussion of social cognition. (shrink)
We define a mathematical formalism based on the concept of an ‘‘open dynamical system” and show how it can be used to model embodied cognition. This formalism extends classical dynamical systems theory by distinguishing a ‘‘total system’’ (which models an agent in an environment) and an ‘‘agent system’’ (which models an agent by itself), and it includes tools for analyzing the collections of overlapping paths that occur in an embedded agent's state space. To illustrate the way this formalism can (...) be applied, several neural network models are embedded in a simple model environment. Such phenomena as masking, perceptual ambiguity, and priming are then observed. We also use this formalism to reinterpret examples from the embodiment literature, arguing that it provides for a more thorough analysis of the relevant phenomena. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper, I examine the plausibility of Embodied Accounts of Social Cognition by finding fault with the most detailed and convincing version of such an account, as articulated by Daniel Hutto ( 2008 ). I argue that this account fails to offer a plausible ontogeny for folk psychological abilities due to its inability to address recent evidence from implicit false belief tasks that suggest a radically different timeline for the development of these abilities. Content Type Journal Article (...) Pages 1-18 DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9213-3 Authors J. Robert Thompson, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box JS, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online ISSN 1572-8676 Print ISSN 1568-7759. (shrink)
No longer is sociality the preserve of the social sciences, or ‘‘culture’’ the preserve of the humanities or anthropology. By the same token, cognition is no longer the sole preserve of the cognitive sciences. Social cognition (SC) or, sociocognition if you like, is thus a kaleidoscope of research projects that has seen exponential growth over the past 30 or so years.
This paper explores several paths a distinctive third wave of extended cognition might take. In so doing, I address a couple of shortcomings of first- and second-wave extended cognition associated with a tendency to conceive of the properties of internal and external processes as fixed and non-interchangeable. First, in the domain of cognitive transformation, I argue that a problematic tendency of the complementarity model is that it presupposes that socio-cultural resources augment but do not significantly transform the brain’s (...) representational capacities during diachronic development. In this paper I show that there is available a much more dynamical explanation—one taking the processes of the brain’s enculturation into patterned practices as transforming the brain’s representational capacities. Second, in the domain of cognitive assembly, I argue that another problematic tendency is an individualistic notion of cognitive agency, since it overlooks the active contribution of socio-cultural practices in the assembly process of extended cognitive systems. In contrast to an individualistic notion of cognitive agency, I explore the idea that it is possible to decentralize cognitive agency to include socio-cultural practices. (shrink)
As the cognitive revolution was slow to come to the study of animal behavior, the vast majority of what we know about primate cognition has been discovered in the last 30 years. Building on the recognition that the physical and social worlds of humans and their living primate relatives pose many of the same evolutionary challenges, programs of research have established that the most basic cognitive skills and mental representations that humans use to navigate those worlds are already possessed (...) by other primates. There may be differences between humans and other primates, however, in more complex cognitive skills, such as reasoning about relations, causality, time, and other minds. Of special importance, the human primate seems to possess a species-unique set of adaptations for “cultural intelligence,” which are broad reaching in their effects on human cognition. (shrink)
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how (...) the boundary between the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task-specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics. (shrink)
Human cognition is rich, varied, and complex. In this Chapter we argue that because of the richness of human cognition (and human mental life generally), there must be a syntax of cognitive states, but because of this very richness, cognitive processes cannot be describable by exceptionless rules. The argument for syntax, in Section 1, has to do with being able to get around in any number of possible environments in a complex world. Since nature did not know where (...) in the world humans would find themselves—nor within pretty broad limits what the world would be like —nature had to provide them with a means of “representing” a great deal of information about any of indefinitely many locations. We see no way that this could be done except by way of syntax— that is, by a systematic way of producing new, appropriate representations as needed. We discuss what being systematic must amount to, and what, in consequence, syntax should mean. We hold that syntax does not require a part/whole relationship. The argument for the claim that human cognitive processes cannot be described by exceptionless rules, in Section 2, appeals to the fact that there is no limit to the factors one might.. (shrink)
From the late 1950s until 1975, cognition was understood mainly as disembodied symbol manipulation in cognitive psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and the nascent field of Cognitive Science. The idea of embodied cognition entered the field of Cognitive Linguistics at its beginning in 1975. Since then, cognitive linguists, working with neuroscientists, computer scientists, and experimental psychologists, have been developing a neural theory of thought and language (NTTL). Central to NTTL are the following ideas: (a) we think with our brains, (...) that is, thought is physical and is carried out by functional neural circuitry; (b) what makes thought meaningful are the ways those neural circuits are connected to the body and characterize embodied experience; (c) so-called abstract ideas are embodied in this way as well, as is language. Experimental results in embodied cognition are seen not only as confirming NTTL but also explained via NTTL, mostly via the neural theory of conceptual metaphor. Left behind more than three decades ago is the old idea that cognition uses the abstract manipulation of disembodied symbols that are meaningless in themselves but that somehow constitute internal “representations of external reality” without serious mediation by the body and brain. This article uniquely explains the connections between embodied cognition results since that time and results from cognitive linguistics, experimental psychology, computational modeling, and neuroscience. (shrink)
This paper will defend the cognitivist view of cognition against recent challenges from Andy Clark and Richard Menary. It will also indicate the important theoretical role that cognitivism plays in understanding some of the core issues surrounding the hypothesis of extended cognition.
I argue that proponents of embodied social cognition (ESC) can usefully supplement their views if they enlist the help of an unlikely ally: Daniel Dennett. On Dennett’s view, human social cognition involves adopting the intentional stance (IS), i.e., assuming that an interpretive target’s behavior is an optimally rational attempt to fulfill some desire relative to her beliefs. Characterized this way, proponents of ESC would reject any alliance with Dennett. However, for Dennett, to attribute mental states from the intentional (...) stance is not to attribute concrete, unobservable mental causes of behavior. Once this is appreciated, the kinship between IS—understood as a model of our quotidian interpretive practices—and ESC is apparent: both assume that quotidian interpretation involves tracking abstract, observable, behavioral patterns, not attributing unobservable, concrete, mental causes, i.e., both assume social cognition is possible without metapsychology. I argue that this affinity constitutes an opportunity: proponents of ESC can use IS as a characterization of the subpersonal basis for social cognition. In the process, I make my interpretation of IS more precise and relate it to current empirical literature in developmental psychology. (shrink)
I examine the role of mutual gaze in social cognition. I start by discussing recent studies of joint visual attention in order to show that social cognition is operative in infancy prior to the emergence of theoretical skills required to make judgments about other people's states of mind. Such social cognition depends on the communicative potential inherent in human bodies. I proceed to examine this embodied social cognition in the context of Merleau-Ponty's views on vision. I (...) expose some inner difficulties within Merleau-Ponty's position as well as to point out the ways of resolving them by means of combined insights from developmental psychology and the analyses of self-other relations from philosophies of dialogue. (shrink)
In The Bounds of Cognition, Fred Adams and Kenneth Aizawa treat the arguments for extended cognition to withering criticism. I summarize their main arguments and focus special attention on their distinction between the extended cognitive system hypothesis and the extended cognition hypothesis, as well as on their demand for a mark of the mental.
The paper aims to show that scepticism concerning the status of first-person reports of mental states and their use as evidence in scientific cognitive research is unfounded. Rather, principled arguments suggest that the conditions for the intersubjectivity of cognition and description of publicly observable things apply equally for our cognition and description of our mental or internal states. It is argued that on these conditions relies the possibility of developing well-defined scientific criteria for distinguishing between first-person and third-person (...)cognition and description. The paper concludes by outlining the consequences for cognitive research and for functional theories of mind. (shrink)
We present a general cognitive architecture that tightly integrates symbolic, spatial, and visual representations. A key means to achieving this integration is allowing cognition to move freely between these modes, using mental imagery. The specific components and their integration are motivated by results from psychology, as well as the need for developing a functional and efficient implementation. We discuss functional benefits that result from the combination of multiple content-based representations and the specialized processing units associated with them. Instantiating this (...) theory, we then discuss the architectural components and processes, and illustrate the resulting functional advantages in two spatially and visually rich domains. The theory is then compared to other prominent approaches in the area. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the constructive dimensions and specifics of human theoretic cognition, combining perspectives from (Husserlian) genetic phenomenology and distributed cognition approaches. I further consult recent psychological research concerning spatial and numerical cognition. The focus is on the nexus between the theoretic development of abstract, idealized geometrical and mathematical notions of space and the development and effective use of environmental cognitive support systems. In my discussion, I show that the evolution of the theoretic cognition (...) of space apparently follows two opposing, but in truth, intrinsically aligned trajectories. On the epistemic plane, which is the main focus of Husserl’s genetic phenomenological investigations, theoretic conceptions of space are progressively constituted by way of an idealizing emancipation of spatial cognition from the concrete, embodied intentionality underlying the human organism’s perception of space. As a result of this emancipation, it ultimately becomes possible for the human mind to theoretically conceive of and posit space as an ideal entity that is universally geometrical and mathematical. At the same time, by synthesizing a range of literature on spatial and mathematical cognition, I illustrate that for the theoretic mind to undertake precisely this emancipating process successfully, and further, for an ideal and objective notion of geometrical and mathematical space to first of all become fully scientifically operative, the cognitive support provided by a range of specific symbolic technologies is central. These include lettered diagrams, notation systems, and more generally, the technique of formalization and require for their functioning various cognitively efficacious types of embodiment. Ultimately, this paper endeavors to understand the specific symbolic-technological dimensions that have been instrumental to major shifts in the development of idealized, scientific conceptions of space. The epistemic characteristics of these shifts have been previously discussed in genetic phenomenology, but without devoting sufficient attention to the constructive role of symbolic technologies. At the same time, this paper identifies some of the irreducible phenomenological and epistemic dimensions that characterize the functioning of the historically situated, embodied and distributed theoretic mind. (shrink)
Fred Adams (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9(4): 619–628, 2010) criticizes the theory of embodied cognition (EC) which holds that conceptual and linguistic thought is grounded in the brain’s perceptual and sensorimotor systems. Among other things, Adams claims that: (1) EC is potentially committed to an implausible criterion of sentence meaningfulness; (2) EC lacks claimed advantages over rival accounts of conceptual thought; (3) relevant experimental data do not show constitutive, but only causal, involvement of perception in conception; and (4) (...) EC cannot account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. I respond to Adams that: (1) EC is not committed to an implausible criterion of meaningfulness, though it may be committed to holding that comprehension admits of degrees; (2) EC does have its claimed advantages over rival views; (3) the data do make a strong case for constitutive involvement and (4) a broad and comprehensive EC approach probably can account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. (shrink)
Over the past two decades, researchers have made great advances in the area of computational methods for extracting meaning from text. This research has to a large extent been spurred by the development of latent semantic analysis (LSA), a method for extracting and representing the meaning of words using statistical computations applied to large corpora of text. Since the advent of LSA, researchers have developed and tested alternative statistical methods designed to detect and analyze meaning in text corpora. This research (...) exemplifies how statistical models of semantics play an important role in our understanding of cognition and contribute to the field of cognitive science. Importantly, these models afford large-scale representations of human knowledge and allow researchers to explore various questions regarding knowledge, discourse processing, text comprehension, and language. This topic includes the latest progress by the leading researchers in the endeavor to go beyond LSA. (shrink)
By examining the contingent alliance that has emerged between the computational theory of mind and cyborg theory, we discern some questionable ways in which the literalization of technological metaphors and the over-extension of the “computational” have functioned, not only to influence conceptions of cognition, but also by becoming normative perspectives on how minds and bodies should be transformed, such that they can capitalize on technology’s capacity to enhance cognition and thus amend our sense of what it is to (...) be “human”. We consider “a moratorium on cyborg discourse” as a way of focusing the conceptual and social–political problems posed by this alliance. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question whether we can conceive of music cognition in ecosemiotic terms. It claims that music knowledge must be generated as a tool for adaptation to the sonic world and calls forth a shift from a structural description of music as an artifact to a process-like approach to dealing with music. As listeners, we are observers who construct and organize our knowledge and bring with us our observational tools. What matters is not merely the sonic world (...) in its objective qualities, but the world as perceived. In order to make these claims operational we can rely on the ecological concept of coping with the sonic world and the cybernetic concepts of artificial and adaptive devices. Listeners, on this view, are able to change their semantic relations with the sonic world through functional adaptations at the level of sensing, acting and coordinating between action and perception. This allows us to understand music in functional terms of what it affords to us and not merely in terms of its acoustic qualities. There are, however, degrees of freedom and constraints which shape the semiotization of the sonic world. As such we must consider the role of event perception and cognitive economy: listeners do not perceive the acoustical environment in terms of phenomenological descriptions but as ecological events. (shrink)
We begin by distinguishing computationalism from a number of other theses that are sometimes conflated with it. We also distinguish between several important kinds of computation: computation in a generic sense, digital computation, and analog computation. Then, we defend a weak version of computationalism—neural processes are computations in the generic sense. After that, we reject on empirical grounds the common assimilation of neural computation to either analog or digital computation, concluding that neural computation is sui generis. Analog computation requires continuous (...) signals; digital computation requires strings of digits. But current neuroscientific evidence indicates that typical neural signals, such as spike trains, are graded like continuous signals but are constituted by discrete functional elements (spikes); thus, typical neural signals are neither continuous signals nor strings of digits. It follows that neural computation is sui generis. Finally, we highlight three important consequences of a proper understanding of neural computation for the theory of cognition. First, understanding neural computation requires a specially designed mathematical theory (or theories) rather than the mathematical theories of analog or digital computation. Second, several popular views about neural computation turn out to be incorrect. Third, computational theories of cognition that rely on non-neural notions of computation ought to be replaced or reinterpreted in terms of neural computation. (shrink)
This paper discusses spatial cognition in the domain of minimally invasive surgery. It draws on studies from this domain to shed light on a range of spatial cognitive processes and to consider individual differences in performance. In relation to modeling, the aim is to identify potential opportunities for characterizing the complex interplay between perception, action, and cognition, and to consider how theoretical models of the relevant processes might prove valuable for addressing applied questions about surgical performance and training.
Our ability to process spatial information is fundamental for understanding and interacting with the environment, and it pervades other components of cognitive functioning from language to mathematics. Moreover, technological advances have produced new capabilities that have created research opportunities and astonishing applications. In this Topic on Modeling Spatial Cognition, research crossing a variety of disciplines and methodologies is described, all focused on developing models to represent the capacities and limitations of human spatial cognition.
This study investigated the relative contribution of perception/cognition and language-specific semantics in nonverbal categorization of spatial relations. English and Korean speakers completed a video-based similarity judgment task involving containment, support, tight fit, and loose fit. Both perception/cognition and language served as resources for categorization, and allocation between the two depended on the target relation and the features contrasted in the choices. Whereas perceptual/cognitive salience for containment and tight-fit features guided categorization in many contexts, language-specific semantics influenced categorization where (...) the two features competed for similarity judgment and when the target relation was tight support, a domain where spatial relations are perceptually diverse. In the latter contexts, each group categorized more in line with semantics of their language, that is, containment/support for English and tight/loose fit for Korean. We conclude that language guides spatial categorization when perception/cognition alone is not sufficient. In this way, language is an integral part of our cognitive domain of space. (shrink)
In previous analyses of the influence of language on cognition, speech has been the main channel examined. In studies conducted among Yucatec Mayas, efforts to determine the preferred frame of reference in use in this community have failed to reach an agreement (Bohnemeyer & Stolz, 2006; Levinson, 2003 vs. Le Guen, 2006, 2009). This paper argues for a multimodal analysis of language that encompasses gesture as well as speech, and shows that the preferred frame of reference in Yucatec Maya (...) is only detectable through the analysis of co-speech gesture and not through speech alone. A series of experiments compares knowledge of the semantics of spatial terms, performance on nonlinguistic tasks and gestures produced by men and women. The results show a striking gender difference in the knowledge of the semantics of spatial terms, but an equal preference for a geocentric frame of reference in nonverbal tasks. In a localization task, participants used a variety of strategies in their speech, but they all exhibited a systematic preference for a geocentric frame of reference in their gestures. (shrink)
In this paper, we approach the idea of group cognition from the perspective of the “extended mind” thesis, as a special case of the more general claim that systems larger than the individual human, but containing that human, are capable of cognition (Clark, 2008; Clark & Chalmers, 1998). Instead of deliberating about “the mark of the cognitive” (Adams & Aizawa, 2008), our discussion of group cognition is tied to particular cognitive capacities. We review recent studies of group (...) problem-solving and group memory which reveal that specific cognitive capacities that are commonly ascribed to individuals are also aptly ascribed at the level of groups. These case studies show how dense interactions among people within a group lead to both similarity-inducing and differentiating dynamics that affect the group's ability to solve problems. This supports our claim that groups have organization-dependent cognitive capacities that go beyond the simple aggregation of the cognitive capacities of individuals. Group cognition is thus an emergent phenomenon in the sense of Wimsatt (1986). We further argue that anybody who rejects our strategy for showing that cognitive properties can be instantiated at multiple levels in the organizational hierarchy on a priori grounds is a “demergentist,” and thus incurs the burden of proof for explaining why cognitive properties are “stuck” at a certain level of organizational structure. Finally, we show that our analysis of group cognition escapes the “coupling-constitution” charge that has been leveled against the extended mind thesis (Adams & Aizawa, 2008). (shrink)
Cognition in work teams has been predominantly understood and explained in terms of shared cognition with a focus on the similarity of static knowledge structures across individual team members. Inspired by the current zeitgeist in cognitive science, as well as by empirical data and pragmatic concerns, we offer an alternative theory of team cognition. Interactive Team Cognition (ITC) theory posits that (1) team cognition is an activity, not a property or a product; (2) team (...) class='Hi'>cognition should be measured and studied at the team level; and (3) team cognition is inextricably tied to context. There are implications of ITC for theory building, modeling, measurement, and applications that make teams more effective performers. (shrink)
We describe recent developments in research on mathematical practice and cognition and outline the nine contributions in this special issue of topiCS. We divide these contributions into those that address (a) mathematical reasoning: patterns, levels, and evaluation; (b) mathematical concepts: evolution and meaning; and (c) the number concept: representation and processing.
One of the liveliest debates about cognition concerns whether our cognition sometimes extends beyond our brains and bodies. One party says Yes, another No. This paper shows that debate between these parties has been epistemologically confused and requires reorienting. Both parties frequently appeal to empirical considerations and to extra-empirical theoretical virtues to support claims about where cognition is. These things should constrain their claims, but cannot do all the work hoped. This is because of the overlooked fact, (...) uncovered in this paper, that we could never distinguish the rival views empirically or by typical theoretical virtues. I show this by drawing on recent work on testing, predictive accuracy, and theoretical virtues. The recommendation to emerge is that we step back from debate about where cognition is, to the epistemology of what cognition is. (shrink)
An important shift is taking place in social cognition research, away from a focus on the individual mind and toward embodied and participatory aspects of social understanding. Empirical results already imply that social cognition is not reducible to the workings of individual cognitive mechanisms. To galvanize this interactive turn, we provide an operational definition of social interaction and distinguish the different explanatory roles – contextual, enabling and constitutive – it can play in social cognition. We show that (...) interactive processes are more than a context for social cognition: they can complement and even replace individual mechanisms. This new explanatory power of social interaction can push the field forward by expanding the possibilities of scientific explanation beyond the individual. (shrink)
Mirror neurons are widely regarded as an important key to social cognition. Despite such wide agreement, there is very little consensus on how or why they are important. The goal of this paper is to clearly explicate the exact role mirror neurons play in social cognition. I aim to answer two questions about the relationship between mirroring and social cognition: What kind of social understanding is involved with mirroring? How is mirroring related to that understanding? I argue (...) that philosophical and empirical considerations lead us to accord a fairly minimal role for mirror neurons in social cognition. (shrink)
Extended Cognition (EC) hypothesizes that there are parts of the world outside the head serving as cognitive vehicles. One criticism of this controversial view is the problem of “cognitive bloat” which says that EC is too permissive and fails to provide an adequate necessary criterion for cognition. It cannot, for instance, distinguish genuine cognitive vehicles from mere supports (e.g. the Yellow Pages). In response, Andy Clark and Mark Rowlands have independently suggested that genuine cognitive vehicles are distinguished from (...) supports in that the former have been “recruited,” i.e. they are either artifacts, or, products of evolution. I argue against this proposal. There are counter examples to the claim that “Teleological” EC is either necessary or sufficient for cognition. Teleological EC conflates different types of scientific projects, and inherits content externalism’s alienation from historically impartial cognitive science. (shrink)