The character of computational modelling of cognition depends on an underlying theory of representation. Classical cognitive science has exploited the syntax/semantics theory of representation that derives from logic. But this has had the consequence that the kind of psychological explanation supported by classical cognitive science is " _conceptualist_: " psychological phenomena are modelled in terms of relations that hold between concepts, and between the sensors/effectors and concepts. This kind of explanation is inappropriate for the Proper Treatment of Connectionism.
Much recent cognitive neuroscientific work on body knowledge is representationalist: “body schema” and “body images”, for example, are cerebral representations of the body (de Vignemont 2009). A framework assumption is that representation of the body plays an important role in cognition. The question is whether this representationalist assumption is compatible with the variety of broadly situated or embodied approaches recently popular in the cognitive neurosciences: approaches in which cognition is taken to have a ‘direct’ relation to the body and to (...) the environment. A “direct” relation is one where the boundaries between the body and the head, or between the environment and the animal are not theoretically important in the understanding of cognition. These boundaries do not play a theoretically privileged role in cognitive explanations of behavior. But representationalism appears to put a representational veil between the locus of cognition and that which is represented, making cognitive relations to the body and to the environment be indirect, with a high associated computational load. For this reason, direct approaches have tried to minimize the use of internal representations (Suchman 1987; Barwise 1987; Agre and Chapman 1987; Brooks 1992; Thelen and Smith 1994; van Gelder 1995; Port and van Gelder 1995; Clark 1997, 1999; Rupert 2009, p. 180). Does a cognitive neuroscience committed to direct relations rule out a representationalist approach to body knowledge? Or is direct representationalism possible? (shrink)
Tim Crane University College London 1. Introduction P.F. Strawson argued that ‘mature sensible experience (in general) presents itself as … an immediate consciousness of the existence of things outside us’ (1979: 97). He began his defence of this very natural idea by asking how someone might typically give a description of their current visual experience, and offered this example of such a description: ‘I see the red light of the setting sun filtering through the black and thickly clustered branches of (...) the elms; I see the dappled deer grazing in groups on the vivid green grass…’ (1979: 97). In other words, in describing experience, we tend to describe the objects of experience – the things which we experience – and the ways they are when we are experiencing them. (shrink)
In section 1 I offer a definition of psychologism which applies to many of the apparently quite disparate uses that philosophers have made of the term. In section 2 I map out some distinct varieties of psychologism. In a short section 3 I indicate how the changing academic climate has injected a new urgency into the debate on psychologism. In section 4 I offer an argument for a variety of psychologism which has important consequences for cognitive science, and in section (...) 5 I consider some objections to the argument. (shrink)
This paper explores some problems with Gareth Evans’s theory of the fundamental and non-fundamental levels of thought . I suggest a way to reconceive the levels of thought that overcomes these problems. But, first, why might anyone who was not already struck by Evans’s remarkable theory care about these issues? What’s at stake here?