It is argued that the theory of situatedcognition together with dynamic systems theory can explain the core of artistic practice and aesthetic experience, and furthermore paves the way for an account of how artist and audience can meet via the artist’s work. The production and consumption of art is an embodied practice, firmly based in perception and action, and supported by features of the local, agent-centered and global, socio-cultural contexts. Artistic creativity and aesthetic experience equally result from (...) the dynamic interplay between agent and context, allowing for artist and viewer to relate to the artist’s work in similar ways. (shrink)
Since its inception some fifty years ago, cognitive science has seen a number of sea changes. Perhaps the best known is the development of connectionist models of cognition as an alternative to classical, symbol-based approaches. A more recent - and increasingly influential - trend is that of dynamical-systems-based, ecologically oriented models of the mind. Researchers suggest that a full understanding of the mind will require systematic study of the dynamics of interaction between mind, body, and world. Some argue that (...) this new orientation calls for a revolutionary new metaphysics of mind, according to which mental states and processes, and even persons, literally extend into the environment. This book is a guide to this movement in cognitive science. Each chapter tackles either a specific area of empirical research or specific sector of the conceptual foundation underlying this research. (shrink)
1. The Situation in Cognition 2. SituatedCognition: A Potted Recent History 3. Extensions in Biology, Computation, and Cognition 4. Articulating the Idea of Cognitive Extension 5. Are Some Resources Intrinsically Non-Cognitive? 6. Is Cognition Extended or Only Embedded? 7. Letting Nature Take Its Course.
In this paper I consider how thinking emerges out of human infants' relatedness towards the personal and non-personal world. I highlight the contrast between cognitive aspects and cognitive components of psychological functioning, and propose that even when thinking has become a partly separable component of the mind, affective and conative aspects inhere in its nature. I provide illustrative evidence from recent research on the developmental psychopathology of autism. In failing to adopt a developmental perspective, contemporary theorizing has displaced thinking from (...) where it is properly situated - intimately woven with feeling as well as action, and infused with qualities of interpersonal relatedness from which its structure is derived. (shrink)
This paper provides an overview over the debate about so-called “situated approaches to cognition” that depart from the intracranialism associated with traditional cognitivism insofar as they stress the importance of body, world, and interaction for cognitive processing. It sketches the outlines of an overarching framework that reveals the differences, commonalities, and interdependencies between the various claims and positions of second-generation cognitive science, and identifies a number of apparently unresolved conceptual and ontological issues.
During interaction with computer-based 3-D simulations like virtual reality, users may experience a sense of involvement called presence. Presence is commonly defined as the subjective feeling of "being there". We discuss the state of the art in this inno vative research area and introduce a situatedcognition perspective on presence. We argue that presence depends on the proper integration of aspects relevant to an agent's movement and perception, to her actions, and to her conception of the overall situ (...) a tion in which she finds herself, as well as on how these aspects mesh with the possibilities for action afforded in the interaction with the artifact. We also aim at showing that studies of presence offer a test-bed for different theories of situated co gnition.›. (shrink)
In the course of daily life we solve problems often enough that there is a special term to characterize the activity and the right to expect a scientific theory to explain its dynamics. The classical view in psychology is that to solve a problem a subject must frame it by creating an internal representation of the problem‘s structure, usually called a problem space. This space is an internally generable representation that is mathematically identical to a graph structure with nodes and (...) links. The nodes can be annotated with useful information, and the whole representation can be distributed over internal and external structures such as symbolic notations on paper or diagrams. If the representation is distributed across internal and external structures the subject must be able to keep track of activity in the distributed structure. Problem solving proceeds as the subject works from an initial state in this mentally supported space, actively construction possible solution paths, evaluating them and heuristically choosing the best. Control of this exploratory process is not well understood, as it is not always systematic, but various heuristic search algorithms have been proposed and some experimental support has been provided for them. (shrink)
In the course of daily life we solve problems often enough that there is a special term to characterize the activity and the right to expect a scientific theory to explain its dynamics. The classical view in psychology is that to solve a problem a subject must frame it by creating an internal representation of the problem’s structure, usually called a problem space. This space is an internally generable representation that is mathematically identical to a graph structure with nodes and (...) links. The nodes can be annotated with useful information, and the whole representation can be distributed over internal and external structures such as symbolic notations on paper or diagrams. If the representation is distributed across internal and external structures the subject must be able to keep track of activity in the distributed structure. Problem solving proceeds as the subject works from an initial state in mentally supported space, actively constructing possible solution paths, evaluating them and heuristically choosing the best. Control of this exploratory process is not well understood, as it is not always systematic, but various heuristic search algorithms have been proposed and some experimental support has been provided for them. (shrink)
The self-advertising, at least, suggests that 'situatedcognition' involves the most fundamental conceptual re-organization in AI and cognitive science, even appearing to deny that cognition is to be explained by mental representations. In their defence of the orthodox symbolic representational theory, A. Vera and H. Simon have rebutted many of these claims, but they overlook an important reading of situated arguments which may, after all, involve a revolutionary insight. I show that the whole debate turns on (...) puzzles familiar from the history of philosophy and psychology and these may serve to clarify the current disputes. (shrink)
The standard philosophical and folk-psychological accounts of cognition and action credit us with too much spontaneity in our activities and projects. We are taken to be fundamentally active rather than reactive, to project our needs and aims and deploy our full supporting arsenal of cognitive instruments upon an essentially passive environment. The corrected point of view presented here balances this image of active agency with an appreciation of how we are also continually responding to the world, that is, to (...) the pragmatic situations that effectively select subsets of our cognitive resources to be at our disposal in generating responses. The result is a superseding of the standard Cognitive Integrationist picture by a model of a structurally divided mind, comprising a multiplicity of diverse and sometimes-conflicting standpoints, personas, and wills whose elicitation is a complex function of agent intentions and plans, the encountered environment, past experience, and temporal sequence. According to this model, the manifold stored representations constituting a person’s cognitive endowment do not form a single integrated network all equally ready for use. Cognition at any given moment is limited to drawing upon only a subset of one’s perspective, the perspect that is activated in accordance with the specific mental task or situation (the pragmatic context) that one perceives oneself to be facing. The system enlists the environmental context as trigger for practical and theoretical activity, based upon the agent’s prior experience. Though susceptible to certain kinds of error, and not inherently inclined toward innovative thinking, it enables the generally efficient use of our enormous cognitive endowments in conducting our lives in real time. (shrink)
According to a prominent suggestion in the ethics of transcranial neurostimulation the effects of such devices can be treated as ethically on par with established, pre-neurotechnological alterations of the mind. This parity allegedly is supported by situatedcognition theories showing how external devices can be part of a cognitive system. This article will evaluate this suggestion. It will reject the claim, that situatedcognition theories support ethical parity. It will however point out another reason, why external (...) carriers or modifications of the mental might come to be considered ethically on par with internal carriers. Section “Why Could There Be Ethical Parity between Neural Tissue and External Tools?” presents the ethical parity theses between external and internal carriers of the mind as well as neurotechnological alterations and established alterations. Section “Extended, Embodied, Embedded: SituatedCognition as a Relational Thesis” will elaborate the different situatedcognition approaches and their relevance for ethics. It will evaluate, whether transcranial stimulation technologies are plausible candidates for situatedcognition theses. Section “On the Ethical Relevance of SituatedCognition Theses” will discuss criteria for evaluating whether a cognitive tool is deeply embedded with a cognitive system and apply these criteria to transcranial brain stimulation technologies. Finally it will discuss the role diverse versions of situatedcognition theory can play in the ethics of altering mental states, especially the ethics of transcranial brain stimulation technologies. (shrink)
Our utterances are typically if not always "situated," in the sense that they are true or false relative to unarticulated parameters of the extra-linguistic context. The problem is to explain how these parameters are determined, given that nothing in the uttered sentences indicates them. It is tempting to claim that they must be determined at the level of thought or intention. However, as many philosophers have observed, thoughts themselves are no less situated than utterances. Unarticulated parameters need not (...) be mentally represented. In this paper, I try to make precise the notion of representation at stake here. In one sense of 'representation', something is represented if it is inferentially relevant. In another, less demanding sense, something is represented if it is relevant to the construction of a context-sensitive, ad hoc concept. Ad hoc concepts act as "proxies" for cognitively more demanding representations. They "imitate" the latter's epistemic and pragmatic roles while being inferentially less sophisticated. Thus, there are two senses in which a thought can be said to be situated: (1) its truth-value is relative to a non-represented contextual parameter, (2) its truth-value is not itself relative, but it involves a context-sensitive, ad hoc concept. (shrink)
This article compares situatedcognition to contemporary Neo-Aristotelian approaches to the mind. The article distinguishes two components in this paradigm: an Aristotelian essentialism which is alien to situatedcognition and a Wittgensteinian “capacity approach” to the mind which is not just congenial to it but provides important conceptual and argumentative resources in defending social cognition against orthodox cognitive science. It focuses on a central tenet of that orthodoxy. According to what I call “encephalocentrism,” cognition (...) is primarily or even exclusively a computational process occurring inside the brain. Neo-Aristotelians accuse this claim of committing a “homuncular” or “mereological fallacy”. The article explains why the label “fallacy” is misleading, reconstructs the argument to the effect that encephalocentric applications of psychological predicates to the brain and its parts amount to a category mistake, and defends this argument against objections by Dennett, Searle, and Figdor. At the same time it criticizes the Neo-Aristotelian denial that the brain is the organ of cognition. It ends by suggesting ways in which the capacity approach and situatedcognition might be combined to provide a realistic and ecologically sound picture of cognition as a suite of powers that flesh-and-blood animals exercise within their physical and social environments. (shrink)
Simon’s notion of bounded rationality is deeply intertwined with his activity as a cognitive psychologist and founder of so-called cognitivism, a mainstream approach in cognitive psychology until the 1980s. Cognitivism, understood as ‘symbolic information processing,’ provided the first cognitive psychology foundation to bounded rationality. Has bounded rationality since then fully followed the development of cognitive psychology beyond symbolic information processing in the post-Simonian era? To answer this question, this paper focuses on Simon’s opposition during the 1990s to a new view (...) of cognition called situatedcognition, which has since put into question the entire view in cognitive psychology of humans as symbolic information processors. This paper then reads the cognitivism/situatedcognition debate through the lens of current bounded rationality research in economics, in order to inquire into whether it has tackled the issues in that controversy; to envisage possible new foundations for a cognitive psychology-based bounded rationality. (shrink)
Vaesen disregards a plausible alternative to his position, and so fails to offer a compelling argument for unique cognitive mechanisms. We suggest an ecological alternative, according to which divergent relationships between organism and environment, not exotic neuroanatomy, are responsible for unique cognitive capacities. This approach is pertinent to claims about primate cognition; and on this basis, we argue that Vaesen's inference from unique skills to unique mechanisms is unwarranted.
The documented appearance of body ornaments in the archaeological record of early anatomically modern human and late Neanderthal populations has been claimed to be proof of symbolism and cognitive modernity. Recently, Henshilwood and Dubreuil (Current Anthropology 52:361–400, 2011) have supported this stance by arguing that the use of beads and body painting implies the presence of properties typical of modern cognition: high-level theory of mind and awareness of abstract social standards. In this paper I shall disagree with this position. (...) For the purposes of the argument, body ornaments are divided in three categories: aesthetic, indexical and fully-symbolic, on the basis of the necessary and sufficient conditions to construct meaning for each category. As previously acknowledged by a number of authors, I will argue that the abilities considered by Henshilwood & Dubreuil necessarily apply only to fully symbolic ornaments and they do not extend to the aesthetic and indexical categories. Indeed, a series of situated strategies can be sufficient to process non-symbolic categories of ornaments, through their phases of initiation, understanding and maintenance. Since these strategies could be implemented also by non-modern cognitive architectures, it is concluded that early body ornaments are currently unable to support cognitive equivalence between primitive and modern human populations. (shrink)
Researchers in the biological and biomedical sciences, particularly those working in laboratories, use a variety of artifacts to help them perform their cognitive tasks. This paper analyses the relationship between researchers and cognitive artifacts in terms of integration. It first distinguishes different categories of cognitive artifacts used in biological practice on the basis of their informational properties. This results in a novel classification of scientific instruments, conducive to an analysis of the cognitive interactions between researchers and artifacts. It then uses (...) a multidimensional framework in line with complementarity-based extended and distributed cognition theory to conceptualize how deeply instruments in different informational categories are integrated into the cognitive systems of their users. The paper concludes that the degree of integration depends on various factors, including the amount of informational malleability, the intensity and kind of information flow between agent and artifact, the trustworthiness of the information, the procedural and informational transparency, and the degree of individualisation. (shrink)
In “Mind, matter and metabolism,” Godfrey-Smith’s objective is to “develop a picture” in which, first, the basis of living activity in physical processes “makes sense,” second, the basis of proto-cognitive activity in living activity “makes sense” and third, “the basis of subjective experience in metabolically situated cognitive processes also makes sense.” show that he fails to attain all three of these objectives, largely owing to the nature and modularization of metabolism.
Because human cognition is creative and socially situated, knowledge accumulates, diffuses, and gets applied in new contexts, generating cultural analogs of phenomena observed in population genetics such as adaptation and drift. It is therefore commonly thought that elements of culture evolve through natural selection. However, natural selection was proposed to explain how change accumulates despite lack of inheritance of acquired traits, as occurs with template-mediated replication. It cannot accommodate a process with significant retention of acquired or horizontally (e.g. (...) socially) transmitted traits. Moreover, elements of culture cannot be treated as discrete lineages because they constantly interact and influence one another. It is proposed that what evolves through culture is the mind; ideas and artifacts are merely reflections of its current evolved state. Interacting minds transform (in part) through through a non-Darwinian autopoietic process similar to that by which early life evolved, involving not survival of the fittest but actualization of their potential. (shrink)
In everyday life we often act adequately, yet without deliberation. For instance, we immediately obtain and maintain an appropriate distance from others in an elevator. The notion of normativity implied here is a very basic one, namely distinguishing adequate from inadequate, correct from incorrect, or better from worse in the context of a particular situation. In the ﬁrst part of this paper I investigate such ‘situated normativity’ by focusing on unreﬂective expert action. More particularly, I use Wittgenstein’s examples of (...) craftsmen (tailors and architects) absorbed in action to introduce situated normativity. Situated normativity can be understood as the normative aspect of embodied cognition in unreﬂective skillful action. I develop Wittgenstein’s insight that a peculiar type of aﬀective behaviour, ‘directed discontent’, is essential for getting things right without reﬂection. Directed discontent is a reaction of appreciation in action and is introduced as a paradigmatic expression of situated normativity. In the second part I discuss Wittgenstein’s ideas on the normativity of what he calls ‘blind’ rule-following and the ‘bedrock’ of immediate action. What matters for understanding the normativity of (even ‘blind’) rule-following, is not that one has the capacity for linguistic articulation or reﬂection but that one is reliably participating in a communal custom. In the third part I further investigate the complex relationships between unreﬂective skillful action, perception, emotion, and normativity. Part of this entails an account of the link between normativity at the level of the expert’s socio-cultural practice and the individual’s situated and lived normativity. (shrink)
The Internet is an important focus of attention for the philosophy of mind and cognitive science communities. This is partly because the Internet serves as an important part of the material environment in which a broad array of human cognitive and epistemic activities are situated. The Internet can thus be seen as an important part of the ‘cognitive ecology’ that helps to shape, support and realize aspects of human cognizing. Much of the previous philosophical work in this area has (...) sought to analyze the cognitive significance of the Internet from the perspective of human cognition. There has, as such, been little effort to assess the cognitive significance of the Internet from the perspective of ‘machine cognition’. This is unfortunate, because the Internet is likely to exert a significant influence on the shape of machine intelligence. The present paper attempts to evaluate the extent to which the Internet serves as a form of cognitive ecology for synthetic forms of intelligence. In particular, the phenomenon of Internet-situated machine intelligence is analyzed from the perspective of a number of approaches that are typically subsumed under the heading of situatedcognition. These include extended, embedded, scaffolded and embodied approaches to cognition. For each of these approaches, the Internet is shown to be of potential relevance to the development and operation of machine-based cognitive capabilities. Such insights help us to appreciate the role of the Internet in advancing the current state-of-the-art in machine intelligence. (shrink)
A number of philosophers :171–187, 2011; Arnold 2011, in Ethics Politics XV:101–138, 2013) have argued that agent-based, evolutionary game theory models of the evolution of cooperation fail to provide satisfying explanations of cooperation because they are too disconnected from actual biology. I show how these criticisms can be answered by employing modeling approaches from the situatedcognition research program that allow for more biologically detailed models. Using cases drawn from recent situatedcognition modeling research, I show (...) how agent-based models of the evolution of cooperation can become more empirically-informed and relevant to explaining the evolution of cooperation in real populations. I argue that because situatedcognition models allow for more detailed representations of not just agents’ brains but bodies and environments as well, they can be informed by a much wider breadth of empirical research than traditional agent-based models. Moreover, because the simulated bodies of these agents exhibit particular behaviors, they can be more readily compared to the behaviors of actual organisms. I conclude that employing situatedcognition approaches to modeling the evolution of cooperation is a more promising way to investigate the evolution of cooperation than more traditional agent-based evolutionary game theory models. (shrink)
In this paper I want to discuss the implications of adopting different general philosophical approaches for assessing the relation between perception and imagination. In particular, I am interested in different views resulting from ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ approaches to cognition. By ‘top down’ approaches I meanapproaches that conceive of cognition as a process or activity that is guided by intellectual or conceptual (‘top’) elements. (I consider broadly speaking Kantian accounts typical.) By ‘bottom up’ approaches I mean approaches (...) that conceive of cognition as a process that emerges from perceptual or embodied (‘bottom’)elements of cognition. (I consider phenomenological and situatedcognition accounts typical.) My considerations are framed by a particular interest in the ensuing consequences of assuming different general frameworks for integrating the issue of imagination within a theory of situatedcognition. (shrink)
The frame problem is the difficulty of explaining how non-magical systems think and act in ways that are adaptively sensitive to context-dependent relevance. Influenced centrally by Heideggerian phenomenology, Hubert Dreyfus has argued that the frame problem is, in part, a consequence of the assumption (made by mainstream cognitive science and artificial intelligence) that intelligent behaviour is representation-guided behaviour. Dreyfus' Heideggerian analysis suggests that the frame problem dissolves if we reject representationalism about intelligence and recognize that human agents realize the property (...) of thrownness (the property of being always already embedded in a context). I argue that this positive proposal is incomplete until we understand exactly how the properties in question may be instantiated in machines like us. So, working within a broadly Heideggerian conceptual framework, I pursue the character of a representation-shunning thrown machine. As part of this analysis, I suggest that the frame problem is, in truth, a two-headed beast. The intra-context frame problem challenges us to say how a purely mechanistic system may achieve appropriate, flexible and fluid action within a context. The inter-context frame problem challenges us to say how a purely mechanistic system may achieve appropriate, flexible and fluid action in worlds in which adaptation to new contexts is open-ended and in which the number of potential contexts is indeterminate. Drawing on the field of situated robotics, I suggest that the intra-context frame problem may be neutralized by systems of special-purpose adaptive couplings, while the inter-context frame problem may be neutralized by systems that exhibit the phenomenon of continuous reciprocal causation. I also defend the view that while continuous reciprocal causation is in conflict with representational explanation, special-purpose adaptive coupling, as well as its associated agential phenomenology, may feature representations. My proposal has been criticized recently by Dreyfus, who accuses me of propagating a cognitivist misreading of Heidegger, one that, because it maintains a role for representation, leads me seriously astray in my handling of the frame problem. I close by responding to Dreyfus' concerns. (shrink)
Brains, it has recently been argued, are essentially prediction machines. They are bundles of cells that support perception and action by constantly attempting to match incoming sensory inputs with top-down expectations or predictions. This is achieved using a hierarchical generative model that aims to minimize prediction error within a bidirectional cascade of cortical processing. Such accounts offer a unifying model of perception and action, illuminate the functional role of attention, and may neatly capture the special contribution of cortical processing to (...) adaptive success. This target article critically examines this approach, concluding that it offers the best clue yet to the shape of a unified science of mind and action. Sections 1 and 2 lay out the key elements and implications of the approach. Section 3 explores a variety of pitfalls and challenges, spanning the evidential, the methodological, and the more properly conceptual. The paper ends (sections 4 and 5) by asking how such approaches might impact our more general vision of mind, experience, and agency. (shrink)
The situated potentials for action between material things in the world and the interactional processes thereby afforded need to be seen as not only constituting the possibility of agency, but thereby also comprising it. Eo ipso, agency must be de-fused from any local, "contained" subject and be understood as a situational property in which subjects and objects can both participate. Any technological artifact should thus be understood as a complex of agential capacities that function relative to any number of (...) social and material factors. Keeping in mind that we are co-constituted by webs of relations involving increasingly complex collections of artefacts, networks, niches, and communities of practice, our investigation will be guided by interrogating the functional potential of a thing that in the last fifteen years has seamlessly worked its way into the everyday life of millions of human agents. This "thing," the smartphone, is merely a nodal point in a highly complex network. Recognizing this massive "collective," we nevertheless want to show some of the ways in which something as seemingly mundane as a smartphone can reflexively alter the range of actions available to a cognitive agent (Latour 1994). Specifically, we hope to shed light on some of the social-cognitive consequences of technological mediation by looking at the complementary, if not mutually implied, domains of memory and knowledge. (shrink)
This article describes various ways actors in Kashmiri carpet weaving practice deploy a range of artifacts, from symbolic, to material, to hybrid, in order to achieve diverse cognitive accomplishments in their particular task domains: information representation, inter and intra-domain communication, distribution of cognitive labor across people and time, coordination of team activities, and carrying of cultural heritage. In this repertoire, some artifacts position themselves as naïve tools in the actors’ environment to the point of being ignored; however, their usage-in-context unfolds (...) their cognitive involvement in the tasks. These usages-in-context are shown through artifact analysis of their routine, improvised, and opportunistic uses, where cognitive artifacts like talim—the central artifact of this practice—are shown to play not only multifunctional roles beyond representation, but are also complemented by trade-specific skills bearing strong cognitive implications in a task. (shrink)
We historically and conceptually situate distributed cognition by drawing attention to important similarities in assumptions and methods with those of American ?functional psychology? as it emerged in contrast and complement to controlled laboratory study of the structural components and primitive ?elements? of consciousness. Functional psychology foregrounded the adaptive features of cognitive processes in environments, and adopted as a unit of analysis the overall situation of organism and environment. A methodological implication of this emphasis was, to the extent possible, the (...) study of cognitive and other processes in the natural (real world) contexts in which they occur. We therefore emphasize commonalities and differences between functional psychology and D-Cog. One purpose of the comparison is to consider the extent to which criticisms directed at functional psychology are relevant to D-Cog. We also examine the relation between functional psychology and philosophical pragmatism and conclude that D-Cog's conceptual framework would be strengthened through more explicit adoption of philosophical pragmatism, consistent with the eventual trajectory of functional psychology. (shrink)
Ignorance is easily representable as a cognitive property of more than just individual subjects: groups, crowds, and even populations can share the same ignorance regarding particular concepts and ideas. Nevertheless, according to some theories that refer to the extension, distribution, and situatedness of human cognition, ignorance is hardly a state that can be extended, distributed, and situated in the same way in which knowledge is in our eco-cognitive environment. In order to understand how these contradictory takes can come (...) across in a coherent description of ignorance, in this paper I aim at analyzing the impact of the agent’s ignorance in her ecological and cognitive environment, as well as the effect that the surrounding context has on the agent’s epistemological successes and downfalls. To this end I will adopt the cognitive and empirically sensitive perspectives of the distributed cognition, the extended mind and cognitive niches construction theories, which will help me address and answer three topical questions: adopting the theories about the extended mind, the distributed cognition, and the cognitive significance of affordances can we describe ignorance as extended and distributed in spaces, artifacts, and other people? extending or distributing ignorance in one’s eco-cognitive environment has the same cognitive and ecological impact of extending or distributing knowledge? can we recognize instantiations of externalized or distributed ignorance? I will argue that by acknowledging the extended, distributed, and situated dimension of ignorance in cognitive niches we could recognize the impact that our ignorance and uncertainty has on how we manipulate and organize our environment and also how our eco-cognitive frameworks affect the perception of our epistemological states. (shrink)