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Discussion: Brain, body and world

September 8th, 2011 by Thomas Buehrmann

Reply here to provide your challenge to the speakers of the fourth day’s general discussion. This should take the form of: i) a tweet-like question (maximum of 144 characters) and ii) a follow up explanation, abstract or set of bullet points with a minimum of 150 words and maximum of 300, in the following format:

Group Name
Short description of challenge in bold
Content of the summary or abstract or bullet points

 

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7 Responses to “Discussion: Brain, body and world”

  1. Group 5

    Title: GOFAD?
    Good-old fashioned Ad-hoc Dichotomy?

    All our speakers seem to assume some GOFAD, i.e.

    1st talk : objective-subjective dichotomy : isn’t the notion of objective space taken for granted in the notion of movement and action? If so, how can we explain the emergence of perceptual space?
    2nd talk : embodied thought – thinking bodies dichotomy : isn’t the notion of embodiment taken for granted given that you compare male and female embodiment (are there grades of embodiment?)
    3rd talk : outside –inside dichotomy : isn’t an objective perspective assumed in the notion of adaptativity and of an organism reaching its own limits, given that the notion of limits only makes sense from the outside?

  2. David Suarez David Suarez says:

    Group 4

    Challenge Question:

    Each of the speakers has a different conception of how to approach the notion of embodiment. Can we come to some sort of consensus about which notion of embodiment should guide our investigations of cognition?

    Abstract:

    Wheeler has provided two notions of materiality that are meant to illuminate different senses of embodiment.

    Engel’s SMC framework gives us a way of approaching the functioning of the brain which places emphasis on its interaction with the body.

    Thompson’s phenomenologically-flavoured conception of embodiment requires a notion of lived being that does not just amount to implementation of a function, or to dependence on a non-substitutable substrate — lived being requires a space of significance.

    We are all cognitive scientists. Is there a central notion of embodiment to that can tell us:
    • how to build intelligent robots?
    • how to design neuroscientific and psychological experiments and interpret the resulting data?
    • how to think about the place of the mind in the natural world?

  3. Mike Beaton Mike Beaton says:

    Group 1

    Enactivism can incorporate or expand its scope with Extended Mind and Sensorimotor Contingency theories without contradicting or modifying its essential claims. Can Extended Mind and SMC theories incorporate the other two?

    – It seems enactivism could incorporate the intuitively interesting aspects of SMC theory, for instance the closure of sensorimotor loops, and aspects of the Extended Mind hypothesis, that the substrate of cognition is not exclusively in the head. This incorporation would not challenge the fundamental tenets of the enactive position. Can the same be said from the perspective of the other two positions: e.g. could The Extended Mind theory incorporate the main claims of SMC theories and Enactivism? And SMC theory those of Enactivism and Extended Mind?

    – For Evan especially, this is a presupposition of our question, that it can incorporate the other two without changing. Is this correct?

    – If the other two positions can’t incorporate enactivism (or don’t need to), does this mean that from the point of view of Extended Mind or SMC theory that agency and autonomy do not matter? Or are presupposed, but not explained?

  4. Group 6

    Challenge: Can you do non-functionalist, enactive cognitive science (neuroscience, robotics)? Give us the first steps!

    - Is the concept of ACTION as implied by SMC-theory (Engel) compatible with ENACTION as implied by a theory based in the LIVED BODY? we doubt that!

    - If we want to base the COGNITIVE in the AFFECTIVE, VALENCED BASED, do we have to claim that all mental conscious state are basically of this sort (affective) and are we by this excluding ‘simpler’ non-motile life forms (if it is rather a properties of moving animals)? Where does that leave us with the mind-life-equivalence thesis?

    - To make it more concrete: Would e.g. di Paolo/Beer/Engel be comfortable with Evan Thompson’s reference to large-scale oscillatory activity as an autopoietic or adaptive process? If not, what is missing to get for instance an “enactive signal-processing” formulation of oscillation?

  5. Alexander Maye Alexander Maye says:

    Group 2

    1. Is cognition a continuous property or does it increase in discrete steps of different qualities? For example: is cognition in fish and humans different in quantity (or complexity) or is it a difference in quality?
    2. Cognitive agents require metabolism and at the moment it is difficult to imagine developing such systems. But do you believe it could ever be possible in future? (Or in other words, is it possible to implement autopoiesis in an artificial system like a robot?)

  6. Dave Ward Dave Ward says:

    Group 3

    What are the relationships between enactivism and ethics?

    We have seen much empirical and conceptual evidence for enactivism this week. But does this evidence rationally force the acceptance of enactivism upon us, or is the decision to adopt an enactive perspective upon life and mind always, at least in part, an ethical choice? Whatever we say about this explanatory relationship between enactivism and the evaluative framework it involves, we think a pressing task for enactivism is the articulation of this framework. Issues to be addressed include:

    Autopoiesis, agency and structural coupling entail the emergence of functional values or valences. However, it seems that autopoiesis and agency might not be enough to get from functional valences to ethical values. Can enactivism account for a difference between good and bad vs good and evil? Can it account for an animal sacrificing itself for some higher cause?

    One suggestion here is that some form of reflectivity or stance-taking might be required in the enactive picture in order to move to this additional level of value. If a capacity like reflectivity is included, does this in turn change the basic forms of bodily intentionality?

    Finally, what of systems composed of systems? What might enactivism tell us about how the values of individuals compose into values of the whole system (e.g. cells within a liver within a mammal)?

  7. Group 3: What are the relationships between enactivism and ethics?
    Group 2: Is cognition a continuous property or does it increase in discrete steps of different qualities?
    Group 6: Challenge: Can you do non-functionalist, enactive cognitive science (neuroscience, robotics)? Give us the first steps!
    Group 1: ECan Extended Mind and SMC theories incorporate the other two?
    Group 4: Each of the speakers has a different conception of how to approach the notion of embodiment. Can we come to some sort of consensus about which notion of embodiment should guide our investigations of cognition?
    Group 5: GOFAD? Good-old fashioned Ad-hoc Dichotomy?

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