The Enactive Automaton as a Computing Mechanism

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):185-192 (2017)

Authors
Mario Villalobos
University of Edinburgh
Joe Dewhurst
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Abstract
Varela, Thompson, and Rosch illustrated their original presentation of the enactive theory of cognition with the example of a simple cellular automaton. Their theory was paradigmatically anti-computational, and yet automata similar to the one that they describe have typically been used to illustrate theories of computation, and are usually treated as abstract computational systems. Their use of this example is therefore puzzling, especially as they do not seem to acknowledge the discrepancy. The solution to this tension lies in recognizing a hidden background assumption, shared by both Varela, Thompson, and Rosch and the computational theories of mind which they were responding to. This assumption is that computation requires representation, and that computational states must bear representational content. For Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, representational content is incompatible with cognition, and so from their perspective the automaton that they describe cannot, despite appearances, be computational. However, there now exist several accounts of computation that do not make this assumption, and do not characterize computation in terms of representational content. In light of these recent developments, we will argue that it is quite straightforward to characterize the enactive automaton as a non-representational computing mechanism, one that we do not think they should have any objections to.
Keywords autonomy  computation  enactivism  mechanistic explanation  representation
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1002/tht3.247
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 49,066
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Computing Mechanisms.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (4):501-526.
Individuation Without Representation.Joe Dewhurst - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):103-116.
Computation and Content.Frances Egan - 1995 - Philosophical Review 104 (2):181-203.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Computing Mechanisms and Autopoietic Systems.Joe Dewhurst - 2016 - In Vincent Müller (ed.), Computing and Philosophy. Springer Verlag. pp. 17-26.
Computation, Individuation, and the Received View on Representation.Mark Sprevak - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):260-270.
Maxwell's Demon and Computation.Richard Laing - 1974 - Philosophy of Science 41 (2):171-178.
Computational Models: A Modest Role for Content.Frances Egan - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):253-259.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-07-24

Total views
13 ( #672,017 of 2,311,315 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #753,648 of 2,311,315 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature