Traditionally, the “Imagery Debate” has opposed two main camps: depictivism and descriptivism. This debate has essentially focused on the nature of the internal representations thought to be involved in imagery, without addressing at all the question of action. More recently, a third, “embodied” view is moving the debate into a new phase. The embodied approach focuses on the interdependence of perception, cognition and action, and in its more radical line this approach promotes the idea that perception is not a process (...) involving internal world-models. The anti-representationalist version of the embodied paradigm covers, among others that we shall not discuss here, two quite different positions, namely the enactive approach and sensorimotor theory. Up to now these two anti-representationalist accounts have generally been confounded. In this paper we will argue that despite some important commonalities, enactive and sensorimotor accounts come with distinctive theoretical traits with regard to their approach to imagery. These become manifest when critically examining the role they assign to sensorimotor engagements with the world. We shall argue that enactive and sensorimotor approaches are different in their understanding of the role of embodied action, and these different notions of embodiment lead to different explanatory accounts of perception and imagery. We propose that, due to existing ambiguities in enactivism, the sensorimotor theory is a better framework for a skill-based approach to imagery. (shrink)
Enaction, as put forward by Varela and defended by other thinkers (notably Alva Noë, 2004; Susan Hurley, 2006; and Kevin O’Regan, 1992), departs from traditional accounts that treat mental processes (like perception, reasoning, and action) as discrete, independent processes that are causally related in a sequen- tial fashion. According to the main claim of the enactive approach, which Thompson seems to fully endorse, perceptual awareness is taken to be a skill-based activity. Our perceptual contact with the world, according to the (...) enactionists, is not mediated by representations but is enacted, and the notion of representation, belonging to the classic computational paradigm, has no place in this alternative approach. Though Thompson does not pronounce directly on the issue of representationalism, he is most definitely keeping the company of anti-representationalists, and in that context it is not unreasonable to take his silence for consent. In this paper, we will argue that the enactive approach to imagery is unworkable unless it makes appeal to representations, understood in a particular way. Not understood as pictures, to be sure. Or sentences for that matter. But those aren’t the only options. (shrink)
We taxonomize the varieties of representational reuse and point out that all the sorts of reuse that the brain engages in (1) involve something like a model (or schema or simulator), and (2) are effected in bodily and external media, as well as neural media. This suggests that the real fundamental organizational principle is not neural reuse, but model reuse.