Is cognition a matter of representations?: Emulation, teleology, and time-keeping in biological systems

Adaptive Behavior 18 (5):400-415 (2010)
Abstract
Contemporary literature distinguishes two ways to defend the claim that cognition is a matter of representations: one, cognition involves representation-hungry tasks; two, cognition involves a complex form of informational covariation between subcomponents of a system with an adaptive function. Each of these conceptions involves a different notion of representation, and promotes a particular view of the architecture of cognition. But despite the differences, each of them aims to support the claim that cognition is a matter of representations on architectural constraints. The objective of this article is twofold: one, it is argued that architectural constraints do not entail either of those two ways to defend the claim that cognition is a matter of representations; two, it is claimed that both notions of representation share an objectionable common element – namely, the idea of a model that grounds the representational reading– that must be abandoned, in favor of a more economical explanation in terms of causal relations, in order to get a clear view of cognition.
Keywords cognition  representation  emulation theory  closed-loop architecture  tropism  circadian oscillator
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