A shift from a metaphysical framework of substance to one of process enables an integrated account of the emergence of normative phenomena. I show how substance assumptions block genuine ontological emergence, especially the emergence of normativity, and how a process framework permits a thermodynamic-based account of normative emergence. The focus is on two foundational forms of normativity, that of normative function and of representation as emergent in a particular kind of function. This process model of representation, called interactivism, compels changes (...) in many related domains. The discussion ends with brief attention to three domains in which changes are induced by the representational model: perception, learning, and language. (shrink)
This article focuses on the problem of representational content. Accounting for representational content is the central issue in contemporary naturalism: it is the major remaining task facing a naturalistic conception of the world. Representational content is also the central barrier to contemporary cognitive science and artificial intelligence: it is not possible to understand representation in animals nor to construct machines with genuine representation given current (lack of) understanding of what representation is. An elaborated critique is offered to current approaches to (...) representation, arguing that the basic underlying approach is, at root, logically incoherent, and, thus, that standard approaches are doomed to failure. An alternative model of representation - interactivism - is presented that avoids or solves the problems facing standard approaches. Interactivism is framed by a version of functionalism, and a naturalization of that functionalism completes an outline of a naturalization of representation and representational content. (shrink)
The development of a defensible and fecund notion of emergence has been dogged by a number of threshold issues neatly highlighted in a recent paper by Jaegwon Kim. We argue that physicalist assumptions confuse and vitiate the whole project. In particular, his contention that emergence entails supervenience is contradicted by his own argument that the ‘microstructure’ of an object belongs to the whole object, not to its constituents. And his argument against the possibility of downward causation is question-begging and makes (...) false assumptions about causal sufficiency. We argue, on the contrary, for a rejection of the deeply entrenched assumption, shared by physicalists and Cartesians alike, that what basically exists are things (entities, substances). Our best physics tells us that there are no basic particulars, only fields in process. We need an ontology which gives priority to organization, which is inherently relational. Reflection upon the fact that all biological creatures are far-from-equilibrium systems, whose very persistence depend upon their interactions with their environment, reveals incoherence in the notion of an ‘emergence base’. (shrink)
Emergence seems necessary for any naturalistic account of the world — none of our familiar world existed at the time of the Big Bang, and it does now — and normative emergence is necessary for any naturalistic account of biology and mind — mental phenomena, such as representation, learning, rationality, and so on, are normative. But Jaegwon Kim’s argument appears to render causally efficacious emergence impossible, and Hume’s argument appears to render normative emergence impossible, and, in its general form, it (...) precludes any emergence at all. I argue that both of these barriers can be overcome, and, in fact, that they each constitute reductios of their respective underlying presuppositions. In particular, causally efficacious ontological emergence can be modeled, but only within a process metaphysics, thus avoiding Kim’s argument, and by making use of non-abbreviatory forms of definition, thus avoiding Hume’s argument. I illustrate these points with models of the emergent nature of normative function and of representation. (shrink)
* This paper was to have been written jointly with Don Campbell. His tragic death on May 6, 1996, occurred before we had been able to do much planning for the paper. As a result, this is undoubtedly a very different paper than if Don and I had written it together, and, undoubtedly, not as good a paper. Nevertheless, I believe it maintains at least the spirit of what we had discussed. Clearly, all errors are mine alone.
The interactivist model has explored a number of consequences of process metaphysics. These include reversals of some fundamental metaphysical assumptions dominant since the ancient Greeks, and multiple further consequences throughout the metaphysics of the world, minds, and persons. This article surveys some of these consequences, ranging from issues regarding entities and supervenience to the emergence of normative phenomena such as representation, rationality, persons, and ethics.
In this chapter, I outline dynamic models of motivation and emotion. These turn out not to be autonomous subsystems, but, instead, are deeply integrated in the basic interactive dynamic character of living systems. Motivation is a crucial aspect of particular kinds of interactive systems -- systems for which representation is a sister aspect. Emotion is a special kind of partially reflective interaction process, and yields its own emergent motivational aspects. In addition, the overall model accounts for some of the crucial (...) properties of consciousness. (shrink)
A final version of this paper is in press as: Bickhard, M. H.. The Dynamic Emergence of Representation. In H. Clapin, P. Staines, P. Slezak Representation in Mind: New Approaches to Mental Representation. Praeger.
The dominant assumptions -- throughout contemporary philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence -- about the ontology underlying intentionality, and its core of representationality, is that of encodings -- some sort of informational or correspondence or covariation relationship between the represented and its representation that constitutes that representational relationship. There are many disagreements concerning details and implementations, and even some suggestions about claimed alternative ontologies, such as connectionism (though none that escape what I argue is the fundamental flaw in these (...) dominant approaches). One assumption that seems to be held by all, however, usually without explication or defense, is that there is _one_ singular underlying ontology to representationality. In this paper, I argue that there are in fact quite a number of ontologies that manifest representationality -- levels of representationality -- and that _none_ of them are the standard "manipulations of encoded symbols" ontology, nor any other variation on the informational approach to representation. Collectively, these multiple representational ontologies constitute a framework for cognition, whether natural or artificial. (shrink)
I will argue that social ontology is constituted as hierarchical and interlocking conventions of multifarious kinds. Convention, in turn, is modeled in a manner derived from that of David K. Lewis. Convention is usually held to be inadequate for models of social ontologies, with one primary reason being that there seems to be no place for normativity. I argue that two related changes are required in the basic modeling framework in order to address this (and other) issue(s): (1) a shift (...) to an intentional model—among other reasons, in order to account for normativity—and (2) moving away from the belief-desire, propositional attitude, framework for understanding the intentional realm toward an interactive, pragmatic model of intentionality. These shifts provide natural approaches to: (1) understanding the normativities of social realities; (2) the sense in which social ontology is often constituted in implicit relations among the participants rather than elaborated and iterated explicit beliefs and desires; (3) and language. (shrink)
The first paper in this pair (Bickhard in Axiomathes, 2015) developed a model of the nature of representation and cognition, and argued for a model of the micro-functioning of the brain on the basis of that model. In this sequel paper, starting with part III, this model is extended to address macro-functioning in the CNS. In part IV, I offer a discussion of an approach to brain functioning that has some similarities with, as well as differences from, the model presented (...) here: sometimes called the Predictive Brain approach. (shrink)
Two challenges to the very possibility of emergence are addressed, one metaphysical and one logical. The resolution of the metaphysical challenge requires a shift to a process metaphysics, while the logical challenge highlights normative emergence, and requires a shift to more powerful logical tools -- in particular, that of implicit definition. Within the framework of a process metaphysics, two levels of normative emergence are outlined: that of function and that of representation.
An interactive process model of the nature of representation intrinsically accounts for multiple emergent properties of consciousness, such as being a contentful experiential flow, from a situated and embodied point of view. A crucial characteristic of this model is that content is an internally related property of interactive process, rather than an externally related property as in all other contemporary models. Externally related content requires an interpreter, yielding the familiar regress of interpreters, along with a host of additional fatal problems. (...) Further properties of consciousness, such as differentiated qualities of experience, including qualia, emerge with conscious reflection. In particular, qualia are not constituents or direct properties of consciousness per se. Assuming that they are so is a common and ultimately disastrous misconstrual of the problems of consciousness. (shrink)
Persons are biological beings who participate in social environments. Is human sociality different from that of insects? Is human sociality different from that of a computer or robot with elaborate rules for social interaction in its program memory? What is the relationship between the biology of humans and the sociality of persons? I argue that persons constitute an emergent ontological level that develops out of the biological and psychological realm, but that is largely social in its own constitution. This requires (...) a characterization of the relationships between the bio/psychological and the social, and of the developmental process of emergence. It also requires a framework for modeling the bio/psychological level that makes any such emergence possible. Neither attachment theory nor information processing frameworks, for example, will do — the major orientations toward human sociality today make understanding that sociality ultimately impossible. Only an action framework, such as that of Peirce or Piaget2, suffices. (shrink)
The variation and selection form of explanationcan be prescinded from the evolutionary biologyhome ground in which it was discovered and forwhich it has been most developed. When this isdone, variation and selection explanations arefound to have potential application to a widerange of phenomena, far beyond the classicalbiological ground and the contemporaryextensions into epistemological domains. Itappears as the form of explanation most suitedto phenomena of fit. It is also found toparticipate in multiple interestingrelationships with other forms of explanation. We proceed with (...) an examination of multiplekinds of phenomena, interrelationships withother members of the family of forms ofexplanation, and some novel applications evenwithin the home ground of evolutionary biology. (shrink)
Standard semantic information processing models—information in; information processed; information out —lend themselves to standard models of the functioning of the brain in terms, e.g., of threshold-switch neurons connected via classical synapses. That is, in terms of sophisticated descendants of McCulloch and Pitts models. I argue that both the cognition and the brain sides of this framework are incorrect: cognition and thought are not constituted as forms of semantic information processing, and the brain does not function in terms of passive input (...) processing units organized as neural nets. An alternative framework is developed that models cognition and thought not in terms of semantic information processing, and, correspondingly, models brain functional processes also not in terms of semantic information processing. As alternative to such models: I outline a pragmatist oriented, interaction based, model of representation; derive from this model a fundamental framework of constraints on how the brain must function; show that such a framework is in fact found in the brain, and develop the outlines of a broader model of how mental processes can be realized within this alternative framework. Part I of this discussion focuses on some criticisms of standard modeling frameworks for representation and cognition, and outlines an alternative interactivist, pragmatist oriented, model. In part II, the focus is on the fact that the brain does not, in fact, function in accordance with standard passive input processing models—e.g., information processing models. Instead, there are multiple endogenously active processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales across multiple kinds of cells. A micro-functional model that accounts for, and even predicts, these multi-scale phenomena in generating emergent representation and cognition is outlined. That is, I argue that the interactivist model of representation outlined offers constraints on how the brain should function that are in fact empirically found, and, in reverse, that the multifarious details of brain functioning entail the pragmatist representational model—a very strong interrelationship. In the sequel paper, starting with part III, this model is extended to address macro-functioning in the CNS. In part IV, I offer a discussion of an approach to brain functioning that has some similarities with, as well as differences from, the model presented here: sometimes called the predictive brain approach. (shrink)
Kim's argument appears to render causally efficacious emergence impossible: Hume's argument appears to render normative emergence impossible, and, in its general form, it precludes any emergence at all. I argue that both of these barriers can be overcome, and, in fact, that they each constitute reductions of their respective underlying presuppositions. In particular, causally efficacious ontological emergence can be modeled, but only within a process metaphysics, thus avoiding Kim's argument, and making use of non-abbreviatory forms of definition, thus avoiding Hume's (...) argument. I illustrate these points with models of the emergent nature of normative function and of representation. (shrink)
In keeping with other recent efforts, Fodor's CONCEPTS focuses on the metaphysics of conceptual content, bracketing such epistemological questions as, "How can we know the contents of our concepts?" Fodor's metaphysical account of concepts, called "informational atomism," stipulates that the contents of a subject's concepts are fixed by the nomological lockings between the subject and the world. After sketching Fodor's "what else?" argument in support of this view, we offer a number of related criticisms. All point to the same conclusion: (...) Fodor is ultimately not merely bracketing the epistemology of conceptual content; his theory makes answers to the epistemological questions impossible. (shrink)
We all believe an unbounded number of things about the way the world is and about the way the world works. For example, I believe that if I move this book into the other room, it will not change color -- unless there is a paint shower on the way, unless I carry an umbrella through that shower, and so on; I believe that large red trucks at high speeds can hurt me, that trucks with polka dots can hurt me, (...) and so on; that if I move this book, the room will stay in place -- unless there is a pressure switch under the book attached to a bomb, unless the switch communicates to the bomb by radio and there is shielding in the way, and so on; that the moon is not made of green cheese, that the moon is not made of caviar, that the moon is not made of gold, and so on. The problems involved in accounting for such infinite proliferations of beliefs -- and the computations and inferences that take them into account -- are collectively called the Frame Problems, and are considered by some to constitute a major discovery of a new philosophical problem. How could we possibly learn them all? How could the brain possibly hold them all? The problems appear insoluble, impossible. Yet we all learn and hold such unbounded numbers of beliefs; in particular, children do. Something must be wrong. I wish to argue that the frame problem arises from a fundamental presupposition about the nature of representation -- a false presupposition. Yet, it is a presupposition that dominates contemporary developmental psychology (and psychology more broadly, and cognitive science, artificial intelligence, philosophy of mind, and so on). In particular, I will offer an alternative model of the nature of representation within which the frame problem does not arise -- within which such unboundedness is natural. (shrink)
Function emerges in certain kinds of far-from-equilibrium systems. One important kind of function is that of interactive anticipation, an adaptedness to temporal complexity. Interactive anticipation is the locus of the emergence of normative representational content, and, thus, of representation in general: interactive anticipation is the naturalistic core of the evolution of cognition. Higher forms of such anticipation are involved in the subsequent macro-evolutionary sequence of learning, emotions, and reflexive consciousness.
The interactivist model of representation makes foundational criticisms of assumptions concerning representation that have been standard since the pre-Socratics and presents a positive model that differs from others on offer in several ways. The interactivist model of representation (or re- presenting), consequently, does not fit well within standard categories (though it is closest to the general pragmatist framework), and, consequently, is often miscategorized and misunderstood. A recent paper by Gładziejewski (2016) gives us an opportunity to address some of these issues. (...) Gładziejewski presupposes a model of the nature of representation, in a version derived from Ramsey (2007), that is precisely of the sort that the interactivist model argues does not work and is not, in principle, possible. Gładziejewski argues that the interactivist model does not satisfy the desiderata of this kind of model of representation, not taking into account that the interactivist model argues directly against such models and their desiderata. The central (though not the only) point is that Gładziejewski begs the question concerning the interactivist model by assuming precisely what the interactivist model argues is impossible, then charging interactivism with not satisfying these impossible desiderata. By simply accepting the Ramsey framework for understanding and modeling representation, he ignores the arguments against such frameworks, and thereby renders his own arguments circular. (shrink)
Information and representation are thought to be intimately related. Representation, in fact, is commonly considered to be a special kind of information. It must be a _special_ kind, because otherwise all of the myriad instances of informational relationships in the universe would be representational -- some restrictions must be placed on informational relationships in order to refine the vast set into those that are truly representational. I will argue that information in this general sense is important to genuine agents, but (...) that it is a blind alley with regard to the attempt to understand representation. On the other hand, I will also argue that a different, quite non-standard, form of information is central to genuine representation. First I turn to some of the reasons why information as usually considered is the wrong category for understanding representation; second to an alternative model of representation -- one that is naturally emergent in autonomous agents, and that does involve information, but not in any standard form; and third I return to standard notions of informational relationships and show what they are in fact useful for. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introducing persons and the psychology of personhood Jack Martin and Mark H. Bickhard; Part I. Philosophical, Conceptual Perspectives: 2. The person concept and the ontology of persons Michael A. Tissaw; 3. Achieving personhood: the perspective of hermeneutic phenomenology Charles Guignon; Part II. Historical Perspectives: 4. Historical psychology of persons: categories and practice Kurt Danziger; 5. Persons and historical ontology Jeff Sugarman; 6. Critical personalism: on its tenets, its historical obscurity, and its future prospects James T. (...) Lamiell; Part III. Social-Developmental Perspectives: 7. Conceiving of self and others as persons: evolution and development John Barresi, Chris Moore and Raymond Martin; 8. Position exchange theory and personhood: moving between positions and perspectives within physical, sociocultural and psychological space and time Jack Martin and Alex Gillespie; 9. The emergent ontology of persons Mark H. Bickhard; 10. Theorising personhood for the world in transition and change: reflections from a transformative activist stance on human development Anna Stetsenko; Part IV. Narrative Perspectives: 11. Identity and narrative as root metaphors of personhood Amia Lieblich and Ruthellen Josselson; 12. Storied persons: the double triad of narrative identity Mark Freeman. (shrink)
Internal relations are those relations that are intrinsic to the nature of one or more of the relata. They are a kind of essential relation, rather than an essential property. For example, an arc of a circle is internally related to the center of that circle in the sense that.
How Does the Environment Affect the Person? Mark H. Bickhard invited chapter in Children's Development within Social Contexts: Metatheoretical, Theoretical and Methodological Issues, Erlbaum. edited by L. T. Winegar, J. Valsiner, in press.
I will argue that mechanism is not sufficient to capture representation, thus cognition. More generally, mechanism is not sufficient to capture normativity of any sort. I will also outline a model of emergent normativity, representational normativity in particular, and show how it transcends these limitations of mechanism. To begin, I will address some illustrative attempts to model representation within mechanistically naturalistic frameworks, first rather generally, and then in the cases of the models of Fodor and Millikan.
The interactivist approach to development generates a framework of types of constraints on what can be constructed. The four constraint types are based on: (1) what the constructed systems are about; (2) the representational relationship itself; (3) the nature of the systems being constructed; and (4) the process of construction itself. We give illustrations of each constraint type. Any developmental theory needs to acknowledge all four types of constraint; however, some current theories conflate different types of constraint, or rely on (...) a single constraint type to explicate development. Such theories will be inherently unable to explain important aspects of development. (shrink)
Brette's criticism of the coding metaphor focuses on its presence in neurosciences. We argue that this problematic view, which we call “encodingism,” is pernicious in any model of cognition that adopts it. We discuss some of the more specific problems it begets and then elaborate on Brette's action-based alternative to the coding framework.
Operational definitions were a neo-Machean development that connected with the positivism of Logical Positivism. Logical Positivism failed, with the failure of operational definitions being just one of multiple and multifarious failures of Logical Positivism more broadly. Operationalism, however, has continued to seduce psychology more than half a century after it was repudiated by philosophers of science, including the very Logical Positivists who had first taken it seriously. It carries with it a presupposed metaphysics that is false in virtually all of (...) its particulars, and thereby distorts and obscures genuine issues concerning the nature of theory and of science. It makes it particularly difficult for psychologists, under the thrall of this dogma, to free themselves from these false presuppositions, and to think about, create, and critique genuine scientific theory and process. That is the tragedy of operationalism. (shrink)
assumptions about the phenomena of interest with process models. Thus, phlogiston has been replaced by combustion, caloric by random thermal motion, and vital fluid by far- from-equilibrium self-reproducing organizations of process. The most significant exceptions to this historical pattern are found in studies of the mind. Here, substance assumptions are still ubiquitous, ranging from models of representation to those of emotions to personality and psychopathology. Substance assumptions do pernicious damage to our ability to understand such phenomena. In this discussion, I (...) will focus on the problem of representation. (shrink)
neglected aspect: knowledge of error, or ‘‘negative’’ knowledge. The development of knowledge of what counts as error occurs via a kind of internal variation and selection, or quasi-evolutionary, process. Processes of reﬂection generate a hierarchy of principles of error.
There are many facets to mental life and mental experience. In this chapter, I attempt to account for some central characteristics among those facets. I argue that normative function and representation are emergent in particular forms of the self-maintenance of far from thermodynamic equilibrium systems in their essential far-from-equilibrium conditions. The nature of representation that is thereby modeled.
The aim of the present paper is twofold. First, we are interested in assessing the validity of one version of Kim’s argument against genuine higher level causation. Second, we discuss Wilson’s proposal to consider a weaker notion of emergence as genuinely metaphysical and compatible with Non-Reductive Physicalism. Our conclusion is that both proposals fail: the first in preempting genuine (strong) emergent causation, whereas the second in ensuring a genuinely metaphysical status to weak emergence. After all, Wilson’s proposal strongly depends on (...) the success of Kim’s, not only because it takes it as valid but, also, because in pursuing its own weaker model it shares the presuppositions that led Kim’s to failure. At the end of the day, Wilson’s conception of genuine weak emergence either breaks causal closure or is merely stipulative, namely confined at the descriptive level. (shrink)
Biosemiotics contains at its core fundamental issues of naturalism: are normative properties, such as meaning, referent, and others, part of the natural world, or are they part of a second, intentional and normative, metaphysical realm — one that might be analogically applied to natural phenomena, such as within biological cells — but a realm that nevertheless remains metaphysically distinct? Such issues are manifestations of a fundamental metaphysical split between a “natural” realm and a realm of normativity and intentionality. This problematic (...) metaphysical split derives from conceptual problems originating with the Pre-Socratics; transcending that split requires correcting those problems. In particular, transcending that split requires a model of metaphysical emergence, and, in particular, normative emergence. This paper will limn that argument regarding metaphysical emergence, but focus most strongly on an overview of a model of normative, representational emergence that overcomes that metaphysical diremption. (shrink)
In this paper I wish to address the question of the nature of psychopathology. It might naturally be felt that we already know a great deal about psychopathology, and thus that such a paper would be primarily a review and discussion of the literature; I will argue, however, that the most fundamental form of the question concerning the nature of psychopathology is rarely posed in the literature, that it is prevented from being posed by presuppositions inherent in standard theoretical approaches, (...) and that, on those rare occasions when it does get addressed, it has received inadequate answers. Therefore, the paper will have more of the character of a conceptual explication and theoretical exegesis than it will of a review of the literature. (shrink)