Open MIND (2015)

Authors
Aaron Gutknecht
Goethe University Frankfurt
Abstract
With their “bottom-up” approach, Holk Cruse and Malte Schilling present a highly intriguing perspective on those mental phenomena that have fascinated humankind since ancient times. Among them are those aspects of our inner lives that are at the same time most salient and yet most elusive: we are conscious beings with complex emotions, thinking and acting in pursuit of various goals. Starting with, from a biological point of view, very basic abilities, such as the ability to move and navigate in an unpredictable environment, Cruse & Schilling have developed, step-by-step, a robotic system with the ability to plan future actions and, to a limited extent, to verbally report on its own internal states. The authors then offer a compelling argument that their system exhibits aspects of various higher-level mental phenomena such as emotion, attention, intention, volition, and even consciousness. The scientific investigation of the mind is faced with intricate problems at a very fundamental, methodological level. Not only is there a good deal of conceptual vagueness and uncertainty as to what the explananda precisely are, but it is also unclear what the best strategy might be for addressing the phenomena of interest. Cruse & Schilling’s bio-robotic “bottom-up” approach is designed to provide answers to such questions. In this commentary, I begin, in the first section, by presenting the main ideas behind this approach as I understand them. In the second section, I turn to an examination of its scope and limits. Specifically, I will suggest a set of constraints on good explanations based on the bottom-up approach. What criteria do such explanations have to meet in order to be of real scientific value? I maintain that there are essentially three such criteria: biological plausibility, adequate matching criteria, and transparency. Finally, in the third section, I offer directions for future research, as Cruse & Schilling’s bottom-up approach is well suited to provide new insights in the domain of social cognition and to explain its relation to phenomena such as language, emotion, and self.
Keywords Bio-robotics  Emergence  Evolution  Explanation  Mechanisms  Robotics  Social Cognition  Cognition  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Cognitive Science
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Making Sense of Emergence.Jaegwon Kim - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.

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