This ambitious work aims to shed new light on the relations between Husserlian phenomenology and the present-day efforts toward a scientific theory of cognition—with its complex structure of disciplines, levels of explanation, and ...
The paper challenges the assumption, common amongst philosophers, that the reality described in the fundamental theories of microphysics is all the reality we have. It will be argued that this assumption is in fact incompatible with the nature of such theories. It will be shown further that the macro-world of three-dimensional bodies and of such qualitative structures as colour and sound can be treated scientifically on its own terms, which is to say not only from the perspective of psychology but (...) also ontologically. A new sort of emergentist position will be defended, one which yields the basis of a method for describing the perceptually salient macroscopic world in mathematical terms. Broadly, it will be argued that the macroscopic world exists in virtue of certain specific sorts of boundary-patterns in the field of what is captured by the theories of microphysics. (shrink)
Physical reality is all the reality we have, and so physical theory in the standard sense is all the ontology we need. This, at least, was an assumption taken almost universally for granted by the advocates of exact philosophy for much of the present century. Every event, it was held, is a physical event, and all structure in reality is physical structure. The grip of this assumption has perhaps been gradually weakened in recent years as far as the sciences of (...) mind are concerned. When it comes to the sciences of external reality, however, it continues to hold sway, so that contemporary philosophers B even while devoting vast amounts of attention to the language we use in describing the world of everyday experience B still refuse to see this world as being itself a proper object of theoretical concern. Here, however, we shall argue that the usual conception of physical reality as constituting a unique bedrock of objectivity reflects a rather archaic view as to the nature of physics itself and is in fact incompatible with the development of the discipline since Newton. More specifically, we shall seek to show that the world of qualitative structures, for example of colour and sound, or the commonsense world of coloured and sounding things, can be treated scientifically (ontologically) on its own terms, and that such a treatment can help us better to understand the structures both of physical reality and of cognition. (shrink)
Large sets of elements interacting locally and producing specific architectures reliably form a category that transcends the usual dividing line between biological and engineered systems. We propose to call them morphogenetically architected complex systems (MACS). While taking the emergence of properties seriously, the notion of MACS enables at the same time the design (or “meta-design”) of operational means that allow controlling and even, paradoxically, programming this emergence. To demonstrate our claim, we first show that among all the self-organized systems studied (...) in the field of Artificial Life, the specificity of MACS essentially lies in the close relation between their emergent properties and functional properties. Second, we argue that to be a MACS a system does not need to display more than weak emergent properties. Third, since the notion of weak emergence is based on the possibility of simulation, whether computational or mechanistic via machines, we see MACS as good candidates to help design artificial self-architected systems (such as robotic swarms) but also harness and redesign living ones (such as synthetic bacterial films). (shrink)
We present a neuro-geometrical model for generating the shape of Kanizsa's modal subjective contours which is based on the functional architecture of the primary areas of the visual cortex. We focus on V1 and its pinwheel structure and model it as a discrete approximation of a continuous fibration π: R × P → P with base space the space of the retina R and fiber the projective line P of the orientations of the plane. The horizontal cortico-cortical connections of V1 (...) implement what the geometers call the contact structure of the fibration π, and defines therefore an integrability condition which can be shown to correspond to Field's, Hayes', and Hess' psychophysical concept of association field. We present then a variational model of curved modal illusory contours based on the idea that virtual contours are “geodetic” integral curves of the contact structure. (shrink)
After a historical sketch of the dynamical hypothesis, we stress that it is a functionalist hypothesis. We then tackle the point of a dynamical approach to constituent structures and emphasize that dynamical modeling must be coupled with morphological analysis.
Amit's “Attractor Neural Network” perspective on cognition raises difficult technical problems already met by prior dynamical models. This commentary sketches briefly some of them concerning the internal topological structure of attractors, the constituency problem, the possibility of activating simultaneously several attractors, and the different kinds of dynamical structures one can use to model brain activity: point attractors, strange attractors, synchronized arrays of oscillators, synfire chains, and so forth.