A non-symbolic theory of conscious content: Imagery and activity

Until a few years ago, Cognitive Science was firmly wedded to the notion that cognition must be explained in terms of the computational manipulation of internal representations or symbols. Although many people still believe this, the consensus is no longer solid. Whether it is truly threatened by connectionism is, perhaps, controversial, but there are yet more radical approaches that explicitly reject it. Advocates of "embodied" or "situated" approaches to cognition (e.g., Smith, 1991; Varela _et al_ , 1991, Clancey, 1997) argue that thought cannot be understood as entirely internal. Furthermore, it is argued that autonomous robots can be designed to behave more intelligently if representationalist programming techniques are avoided (Brooks, 1991), and that the way our brains control our behavior is better understood in terms of chaos and dynamical systems theory rather than as any sort computation (e.g., Freeman & Skarda, 1990; Van Gelder & Port, 1995; Van Gelder, 1995; Garson, 1996)
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