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Summary. Many animals – traditionally considered “mindless” organisms – make up a series of signs and are engaged in making, manifesting or reacting to a series of signs: through this semiotic activity – which is fundamentally model-based – they are at the same time engaged in “being cognitive agents” and therefore in thinking intelligently. An important effect of this semiotic activity is a continuous process of “hypothesis generation” that can be seen at the level of both instinctual behavior, as a kind of “wired” cognition, and representation-oriented behavior, where nonlinguistic pseudothoughts drive a plastic model-based cognitive role. This activity is at the root of a variety of abductive performances, which are also analyzed in the light of the concept of affordance. Another important character of the model-based cognitive activity above is the externalization of artifacts that play the role of mediators in animal languageless reflexive thinking. The interplay between internal and external representation exhibits a new cognitive perspective on the mechanisms underlying the semiotic emergence of abductive processes in important areas of model-based thinking of mindless organisms. To illustrate this process I will take advantage of the case of a.ect attunement which exhibits an impressive case of model-based communication. A considerable part of abductive cognition occurs through an activity consisting in a kind of reification in the external environment and a subsequent re-projection and reinterpretation through new configurations of neural networks and of their chemical processes. Analysis of the central problems of abduction and hypothesis generation helps to address the problems of other related topics in modelbased reasoning, like pseudological and re.exive thinking, the role of pseudoexplanatory guesses in plastic cognition, the role of reification and beliefs, the problem of the relationship between abduction and perception, and of rationality and instincts.

Keywords

External Representation Animal Cognition Distal Environment Cognitive Niche Instinctual Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorenzo Magnani
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Computational Philosophy LaboratoryUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

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