“Cognition” and Dynamical Cognitive Science
Several philosophers have expressed concerns with some recent uses of the term ‘cognition’. Underlying a number of these concerns are claims that cognition is only located in the brain and that no compelling case has been made to use ‘cognition’ in any way other than as a cause of behavior that is representational in nature. These concerns center on two primary misapprehensions: First, that some adherents of dynamical cognitive science (DCS) think DCS implies the thesis of extended cognition and the rejection of representation, and second, that cognition is mistakenly equated with behavior. We make three points in response to these claims: First, there is no thoroughly entrenched conception of cognition as distinct from behavior that is being illegitimately disregarded. Second, we present Shapiro’s (Minds Mach 23: 353–375, 2013) exposition of dynamical systems theory as revealing a misunderstanding of the way that dynamical models are used in explanations of cognition and related phenomena. Accordingly, a proper conception of DCS’s methods facilitates an appreciation of extended cognition as a legitimate phenomenon of scientific investigation. Finally, we demonstrate that practicing cognitive scientists and psychologists are far more pluralistic in the phenomena they apply ‘cognition’ to than is suggested by some. At the heart of our disagreement with these concerned folks is that although we think it likely that some cognitive phenomena are representational, non-extended, and only in-between the ears, we also think there are good conceptual and empirical reasons to believe that many cognitive phenomena are non-representational, extended, and not confined to the brain.
KeywordsCognition Dynamical systems theory Extended cognition Pluralism Representation
We would like to first thank the current Editor in Chief of Minds and Machines, Mariarosaria Taddeo, and former Editor in Chief, Gregory Wheeler, for their support of this project at various points of the submission and review process. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their very detailed, thorough, and helpful comments. We are very grateful to Tony Chemero for helpful discussions and detailed comments on previous versions of this paper.
- Adams, F., & Aizawa, K. (2008). The bounds of cognition. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
- Anderson, M. L. (2009). What mindedness is. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 4, 1–12.Google Scholar
- Barrett, L. (2012). Why behaviorism isn’t Satanism. In J. Vonk & T. Shackelford (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of comparative evolutionary psychology (pp. 17–38). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Chemero, A. (2003). Radical empiricism through the ages. Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 48, 18–21.Google Scholar
- Chemero, A. (2009). Radical embodied cognitive science. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Chemero, A., & Silberstein, M. (2008). Defending extended cognition. In B. Love, K. McRae, & V. Sloutsky (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th annual meeting of the cognitive science society (pp. 129–134). Austin: Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
- Churchland, P. S. (1986). Neurophilosophy: Toward a unified science of the mind/brain. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Cromwell, H. C., & Panksepp, J. (2011). Rethinking the cognitive revolution from a neural perspective: How overuse/misuse of the term ‘cognition’ and the neglect of affective controls in behavioral neuroscience could be delaying progress in understanding the BrainMind. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 2026–2035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Favela, L. H., & Chemero, A. (2015). Preliminary evidence for extended cognitive systems. Paper presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, New Orleans.Google Scholar
- Favela, L. H., & Chemero, A. (2016). The animal-environment system. In Y. Coelllo & M. H. Fischer (Eds.), Foundations of embodied cognition (Vol. 1, pp. 59–74)., Perceptual and emotional embodiment New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Fodor, J. A. (1975). The language of thought. London: Thomas Crowell.Google Scholar
- Fodor, J. A. (2009). Where is my mind? London Review of Books, 31, 13–15.Google Scholar
- Hatfield, G. (2009). Perception and cognition: Essays in the philosophy of psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hausdorff, J. M., Peng, C. K., Ladin, Z., Wei, J. Y., & Goldberger, A. L. (1995). Is walking a random walk? Evidence for long-range correlations in stride interval of human gait. Journal of Applied Physiology, 78, 349–358.Google Scholar
- Hergenhahn, B. R. (2008). An introduction to the history of psychology (6th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
- Holden, J. G. (2005). Gauging the fractal dimension of response times from cognitive tasks. In M. A. Riley & G. C. Van Orden (Eds.), Tutorials in Contemporary Nonlinear Methods for Behavioral Sciences (pp. 267–318). Retrieved March 10, 2012 from http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/bcs/pac/nmbs/nmbs.jsp.
- Huffman, C. (2013). Alcmaeon. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2013 Edition). Retrieved September 6, 2014 from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2013/entries/alcmaeon/.
- Kelso, J. A. S. (1995). Dynamic patterns: The self-organization of brain and behavior. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Kelso, J. A. S., Saltzman, E. L., & Tuller, B. (1986). The dynamical perspective on speech production: Data and theory. Journal of Phonetics, 14, 29–59.Google Scholar
- Shapiro, L. (2011). Embodied cognition. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Spivey, M. (2007). The continuity of mind. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Thagard, P. (2005). Mind: Introduction to cognitive science (2nd ed.). Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of the mind. Cambridge: Belknap Press.Google Scholar