Cognition as high-order control


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Abstract
In order to investigate cognition fundamental assumptions must be made about what, in general terms, it is. In cognitive science it is usually assumed that cognition is computational and representational. There have been well known disputes over these assumptions, with rival claims that cognition is dynamical, situated and embodied. In this paper I emphasize the relations between cognition and control. I present a model of cognition that makes the claim that it is a form of high-order control, and I argue that viewing cognition as high-order control could be a useful framework assumption for cognitive science. Cognition has many aspects and different concepts can emphasize different aspects of it. Computational and representational assumptions have been very productive, and dynamical and embodied assumptions have also been productive, though to a much lesser extent so far. Control, however, has received insufficient attention in cognition science. The model I propose is based on a point that few will dispute, namely that control of behavior is the ultimate function of cognition. Bringing this to the foreground can be productive by highlighting the ways in which cognition is structured in relation to this control function. If this perspective is valuable it will be because the control function has a highly structuring effect on cognition. As a result a control-based perspective will predict many features of cognition and yield a coherent, integrated picture
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