This chapter applies the parity principle in discussing “active externalism,” which claims that the mind need not be confined within either the brain or body. Consequently, how one brain or body interacts with other brains and bodies must be explored, together with the problems that may arise out of this interaction. This chapter is not concerned with beliefs and desires as mental states but whether they play a role in controlling behavior. It argues the notion that any course of action (...) considered part of the cognitive process going on inside the brain is still part of the cognitive process no matter where it is being implemented. Divided into two parts, this chapter first establishes some points of reference regarding language and cognition, and then proceeds to an attempt to connect the issues by directly discussing the parity principle. (shrink)
We trace how cognition arises beyond the skin. Experimental work on insight problem solving is used to examine how external artifacts can be used to reach the goal of assembling a `cheap necklace'. Instead of asking how insight occurs `in the head', our participants in Experiment 1 can either draw solution attempts or manipulate real objects . Even though performance with real chain links is significantly more successful than on paper, access to objects does not make this insight problem simple: (...) objects themselves do not shape cognition. This challenges extended mind views. While failure often results from the inappropriate application of hill-climbing, material artifacts can trigger solutions. In Experiment 2, we used `open link' conditions of the concretized problem to prompt participants to act . Solutions arrived via insight, serendipity, or trial-and-error. By investigating how objects are used, we show that they do more than supplement neural events. Rather, participants monitor and anticipate the effects of action within an organism-environment system. By analogy, language too draws on experience of monitoring real-time effects as bodily dynamics play out in a normative and cultural world. In engaging with public language, it is likely that verbal patterns function by constraining anticipatory cognitive processes. (shrink)
Taking a distributed view of language, this paper naturalizes symbol grounding. Learning to talk is traced to — not categorizing speech sounds — but events that shape the rise of human-style autonomy. On the extended symbol hypothesis, this happens as babies integrate micro-activity with slow and deliberate adult action. As they discover social norms, intrinsic motive formation enables them to reshape co-action. Because infants link affect to contingencies, dyads develop norm-referenced routines. Over time, infant doings become analysis amenable. The caregiver (...) of a nine-month-old may, for example, prompt the baby to fetch objects. Once she concludes that the baby uses ‘words’ to understand what she says, the infant can use this belief in orienting to more abstract contingencies. New cognitive powers will develop as the baby learns to act in ways that are consistent with a caregiver’s false belief that her baby uses ‘words.’. (shrink)
Language is coordination. Pursuing this, the present Special Issue of Pragmatics & Cognition challenges two widely held positions. First, the papers reject the claim that language is essentially ‘symbolic’. Second, they deny that minds represent verbal patterns. Rather, language is social, individual, and contributes the feeling of thinking. Simply, it is distributed. Elucidating this claim, the opening papers report empirically-based work on the anticipatory dynamics of reading, their cognitive consequences, Shakespearean theatre, what images evoke, and insight problem-solving. Having given reasons (...) for rejecting linguistic autonomy, the papers turn to theory building. Initially, attention is given to a possible origin for semiotic cognition. Then, it is claimed that language functions by realizing values. Next, it is argued that human dynamics are co-regulated by cultural and biological symbols. Finally, in a review article, the distributed view of language is used to contrast Clark’s organism-centered cognition with what is here called ecologically extended cognition. (shrink)
Neuroscience offers more than new empirical evidence about the details of cognitive functions such as language, perception and action. Since it also shows many functions to be highly distributed, interconnected and dependent on mechanisms at different levels of processing, it challenges concepts that are traditionally used to describe these functions. The question is how to accommodate these concepts to the recent evidence. A recent proposal, made in Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (2003) by Bennett and Hacker, is that concepts play a (...) foundational role in neuroscience, that empirical research needs to presuppose them and that changing concepts is a philosophical task. In defending this perspective, PFN shows much neuroscientific writing to be dualistic in nature due to our poor grasp of its foundations. In our review article we take a different approach. Instead of foundationalism we plead for a mild coherentism, which allows for a gradual and continuous alteration of concepts in light of new evidence. Following this approach it is also easier to deal with some neurological conditions (like blindsight, synaesthesia) that pose difficulties for our concepts. Finally, although words and concepts seem to seduce us to thinking that many skills and tasks function separately, it is language skill that – as neuroscientific evidence shows – co-emerges with action/perception cycles and thus seems to require revision of some of our central concepts. (shrink)
To unzip language from social behaviour one can hypothesise that language-systems are constituted by words and rules or, alternatively, constructions. The systems thus become autonomous and, if linked to individualist psychology, one can posit that each person’s brain operates a language faculty However, such views find little support in neuroscience. Brains self-organize by linking phonetic (and manual) gestures with action-perception. Far from being housed in the skull,language activity links people across time-scales. Not only does articulation give rise to speech but,together (...) with gesture, this is partly anticipatory, uses long term and working memory, and links with both previous interactions and linguistic history. Further, without conscious acting and perceiving, what we call language would be no more than sound or visible pattern. Accordingly,language can be viewed as what Fowler (2010) calls ‘between person public activity.’ As such, it arises as people co-ordinate while using cultural history and circumstances. On this distributed view(see, Cowley, 2007a; 2009), this results in skills with affective, verbal and social resources for doings things together Genotypes build phenotypes as persons or selves (Ross, 2007) arise under biological, linguistic and cultural constraints. As we concert activity, we re-enact the phonetic gestures and visible expression of our fellows. We come to hear phenomenological patterns that can be described as languages and their parts. (shrink)
James Mylne (1757-1839) taught moral philosophy and political economy in Glasgow from 1797 to the mid-1830s. Rational Piety and Social Reform in Glasgow offers readers Mylne's biography, a summary of his lectures on moral philosophy and political economy, several interpretative essays, and a collation of his introductory lecture.
We trace how cognition arises beyond the skin. Experimental work on insight problem solving is used to examine how external artifacts can be used to reach the goal of assembling a ‘cheap necklace’. Instead of asking how insight occurs ‘in the head’, our participants in Experiment 1 can either draw solution attempts or manipulate real objects. Even though performance with real chain links is significantly more successful than on paper, access to objects does not make this insight problem simple: objects (...) themselves do not shape cognition. This challenges extended mind views. While failure often results from the inappropriate application of hill-climbing, material artifacts can trigger solutions. In Experiment 2, we used ‘open link’ conditions of the concretized problem to prompt participants to act. Solutions arrived via insight, serendipity, or trial-and-error. By investigating how objects are used, we show that they do more than supplement neural events. Rather, participants monitor and anticipate the effects of action within an organism-environment system. By analogy, language too draws on experience of monitoring real-time effects as bodily dynamics play out in a normative and cultural world. In engaging with public language, it is likely that verbal patterns function by constraining anticipatory cognitive processes. (shrink)
In their enthusiasm for programming, computational linguists have tended to lose sight of what humansdo. They have conceived of conversations as independent of sound and the bodies that produce it. Thus, implicit in their simulations is the assumption that the text is the essence of talk. In fact, unlike electronic mail, conversations are acoustic events. During everyday talk, human understanding depends both on the words spoken and on fine interpersonal vocal coordination. When utterances are analysed into sequences of word-based forms, (...) however, these prosodic aspects of language disappear. Therefore, to investigate the possibility that machines might talk, we propose acommunion game that includes this interpersonal patterning. Humans and machines would talk together and, based on recordings of them, a panel would appraise the relevant merit of each machine's simulation by how true to life it sounded. Unlike Turing's imitation game, the communion game overtly focuses attention, not on intelligence, but on language. It is designed to facilitate the development of social groups of adaptive robots that exploit complex acoustic signals in real time. We consider how the development of such machines might be approached. (shrink)
In their response to our article (Keestra and Cowley, 2009), Hacker and Bennett charge us with failing to understand the project of their book Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (PFN; Bennett and Hacker, 2003) and do this by discussing foundationalism, linguistic conservatism and the passivity of perception. In this rebuttal we explore disagreements that explain the alleged errors. First, we reiterate our substantial disagreement with Bennett and Hacker (B&H) regarding their assumption that, even regarding much debated concepts like ‘consciousness’, we can (...) assume conceptual consensus within a community of competent speakers. Instead, we emphasize variability and divergence between individuals and groups in such contexts. Second, we plead for modesty in conceptual analysis, including the use of conceptual ambiguities as heuristics for the investigation of explanatory mechanisms. Third, we elucidate our proposal by discussing the interdependence of perception and action, which in some cases appear to be problematic for PFN. Fourth, we discuss why our view of conceptual innovation is different from B&H’s, as we plead for linking explanatory ingredients with conceptual analysis. We end by repeating our particular agreement with their mereological principle, even though we present different reasons: psychological concepts should not be applied to mere components or operations of explanatory mechanisms, for which another vocabulary should be developed. (shrink)
The paper examines Marcello Barbieri’s (2007) Introduction to Biosemiotics. Highlighting debate within the biosemiotic community, it focuses on what the volume offers to those who explain human intellect in relation to what Turing called our ‘physical powers.’ In scrutinising the basis of world-modelling, parallels and contrasts are drawn with other work on embodied-embedded cognition. Models dominate biology. Is this a qualitative fact or does it point to biomechanisms? In evaluating the 18 contributions, it is suggested that the answers will shape (...) the field. First, they will decide if biochemistry and explanatory reduction can be synergised by biosemantics. Second, they will show if our intellectual powers arise from biology. Does thinking use—not a language faculty—but what Markoš and colleagues call semiosis by the living? Resolution of such issues, it is suggested, can change how we view cognition. Above all, if the biomechanists win the day, cultural models can be regarded as extending natural meaning. On such a view, biomechanisms prompt us to act and perceive as we model our own natural models. This fits Craik’s vision: intellect gives us the alphanumerical ‘symbols’ that allow thoughts to have objective validity. For the biomechanist, this is explained—not by brains alone—but, rather, by acting under the constraints of historically extended sensoria. (shrink)
Falk's argument takes for granted that “protolanguage” used a genetic propensity for producing word-forms. Using developmental evidence, I dispute this assumption and, instead, reframe the argument in terms of behavioral ecology. Viewed as niche-construction, putting the baby down can help clarify not only the origins of talk but also the capacity to modify what we are saying as we speak.
Temporality underpins how living systems coordinate and function. Unlike measures that use mathematical conventions, lived temporalities grant functional cohesion to organisms-in-the-world. In foxtail grasses, for example, self-maintenance meshes endogenous processes with exogenous rhythms. In embrained animals, temporalities can contribute to learning. And cowbirds coordinate in a soundscape that includes conspecifics: social learning allows them to connect copulating with past events such that females exert ‘long-distance’ control over male singing. Using Howard Pattee’s work, we compare the foxtail’s self-maintenance, gender-based cowbird learning (...) and how humans manage multi-scalar activity. We argue that, while all living things coordinate, temporal ranging is typical of vertebrates. As primates, humans too use temporal ranging – they can draw on social learning, anticipate winter and manage coordinated action. However language behaviour grants new control over the scales of time. People connect the impersonal to lived experience in narratives, as they draw on autobiography and enact cultural practices. Humans become singular individuals who use temporal experience to manage affect, relationships, beliefs, fictions, and knowledge. Individual subjectivity permits collaborative and competitive activity based on linking events with quite different histories. As a result, alone of the vertebrates, we claim that humans become time-rangers. (shrink)
Life history shaped language as, cascading in time, social strategies became more verbal. Although the insight is important, Locke & Bogin also advocate a code model of language. Rejecting this input-output view, I emphasize the interpersonal dynamics of dialogue. From this perspective, childish minds as well as language could be derived from the selective advantages of a total interactional history.
Emphasizing that agents gain from culture-based patterns, I consider the etiology of meaning. Since the simulations show that “shared categories” are not based in learning, I challenge Steels & Belpaeme's (S&B's) folk view of language. Instead, I stress that meaning uses indexicals to set off a replicator process. Finally, I suggest that memetic patterns – not words – are the grounding of language.
Stephen Cowley’s paper contends that the breaking of a formerly vital link between philosophy and theology has compromised the work of the Church of Scotland. To this end, he examines the connection between philosophy and theology in the work of John McLeod Campbell (1800–72), arguing that the link has either been neglected or significantly misrepresented. He demonstrates that Campbell ascribes a positive role to philosophy and reason in his work, a position partly drawn from rethinking the views of his teacher, (...) James Mylne (1757–1839). He goes on to show how Campbell’s rejection of legal metaphors in understanding the atonement may have developed from Mylne’s philosophical theology. The paper marks a break from the suggestion that Campbell’s conclusions in The Nature of the Atonement emerge primarily from an outworking of his pastoral experience in the light of a reading of Calvinist theologians. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “A Critique of Barbieri’s Code Biology” by Alexander V. Kravchenko.: While acknowledging that Kravchenko is correct in challenging code models of language, I defend Barbieri’s organic coding model of how molecular systems are manufactured. Viewed in a constructivist way, the model clarifies self-fabrication in both living and languaging.
To view language as a cultural tool challenges much of what claims to be linguistic science while opening up a new people-centred linguistics. On this view, how we speak, think and act depends on, not just brains, but also cultural traditions. Yet, Everett is conservative: like others trained in distributional analysis, he reifies ‘words’. Though rejecting inner languages and grammatical universals, he ascribes mental reality to a lexicon. Reliant as he is on transcriptions, he takes the cognitivist view that brains (...) represent word-forms. By contrast, in radical embodied cognitive theory, bodily dynamics themselves act as cues to meaning. Linguistic exostructures resemble tools that constrain how people concert acting-perceiving bodies. The result is unending renewal of verbal structures: like artefacts and institutions, they function to sustain a species-specific cultural ecology. As Ross argues, ecological extensions make human cognition hypersocial. When we link verbal patterns with lived experience, we communicate and cognise by fitting action/perception to cultural practices that anchor human meaning making. (shrink)
Mimesis and Language.Stephen J. Cowley - 2012 - Interaction Studies. Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies / Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies 13 (1):17-40.details
Using contemporary science, the paper builds on Wittgenstein’s views of human language. Rather than ascribing reality to inscription-like entities, it links embodiment with distributed cognition. The verbal or (quasi) technological aspect of language is traced to not action, but human specific interactivity. This species-specific form of sense-making sustains, among other things, using texts, making/construing phonetic gestures and thinking. Human action is thus grounded in appraisals or sense-saturated coordination. To illustrate interactivity at work, the paper focuses on a case study. Over (...) 11 s, a crime scene investigator infers that she is probably dealing with an inside job: she uses not words, but intelligent gaze. This connects professional expertise to circumstances and the feeling of thinking. It is suggested that, as for other species, human appraisal is based in synergies. However, since the verbal aspect of language constrains action and thinking, we also develop customary ways of behaving. Humans extend embodiment by linking real-time activity to actions through which the collectivity imposes a variable degree of control over how individuals realise values. (shrink)
Whilst many studies focus on human-to-media interactions, this paper turns to how a multimodal medium contributes to human-to-human interaction. By bringing together both radical embodied cognitive science and dialogism, the paper develops an anti-representationalist approach to the concept of social presence. We use an exploratory study of close friendships that maintain their interaction through the use of the mobile instant messaging service WhatsApp. In so doing, we describe texting as language-activity where people engage with each other by using resources from (...) body, environment, and brain. Our work represents a major departure from previous studies of mobile interaction in adopting an embodied view of language and cognition. By so doing, we show how parties create anticipatory routines that enable them to ‘hear’ and ‘see’ their interlocutor. The paper’s main contribution is to draw attention to this kind of heightened social presence that we choose to call “co-imagining”. (shrink)
Advanced technologies such as drones, intelligent algorithms and androids have grave implications for human existence. With the purpose of exploring their basis for doing so, the paper proposes a framework for investigating the complex relationship between such devices and human practices and language-mediated cognition. Specifically, it centers on the importance of the typically neglected intermediate layer of culture which not only drives both technophobia and philia but also, more fundamentally, connects pre-reflective experience and socio-material practices by placing advanced technologies in (...) the loop. Theoretically, the paper draws on contributions from performativist Science and Technology Studies and Radically Embodied Cognitive Science and pushes new grounds by stressing their compatibility. Yet, it also emphasizes the importance of the enlanguaged side of cognition which is a requirement for human-style socio-material practices and, hence, the emergence of cultures that fetishizes certain technologies. (shrink)
In biosemiotics, some oppose the study of sign relations to empirical work on bio-mechanisms. Urging consilience between these views, we show the value of Alain Berthoz’s concept of simplexity. Its heuristic power is to present molecules, cells, organisms and communities as using tricks to self-fabricate by agglomerating ‘simplex’ bio-mechanisms. Their properties enable living systems to self-sustain, adapt and, at best, to thrive. But simplexity also empowers agents to engage with their surroundings in novel ways. Life thus not only generates know-how (...) but also social organisation. With languaging, people can act and inhibit: they can also simplexify. As a result, we can see a fruit as ripe, feel when things are awry or behave in ways likely to be judged to be apt. While all living beings make situated use of the historical and the local, humans also bind these with the use of both practices and artifacts. As a result, brains come to emulate what occurs in-between persons and their surroundings. In pursuing the basis for our powers, we focus on inhibition. This simplex trick enables a plant to use dormancy, a bird to learn, and a person to mesh languaging with other aspects of action/perception. Indeed, inhibition enriches human style phenomenology as impersonal resources are used to expand our epistemic horizons. Experience links a self-fabricating body, ancient bio-mechanisms, community-based concerns and epigenetically derived know-how. (shrink)