This collection of readings serves as a resource for a module in Post-Cognitivist Approaches to Cognitive Science, taught at University College Dublin. It aims to provide an interesting sample of topics and papers, but does not try to be comprehensive. Feel free to make use of it as you see fit.
A recent issue of the new journal Topics in Cognitive Science had many papers grouped around the theme of Joint Action. A sampling:
Aaron Sloman and Jackie Chappell have food for thought on The Altricial-Precocial Spectrum for Robots. That whole discussion should serve to change the way you think about the grossly simplistic notion of "innateness" that has preoccupied many in Cognitive Science.
The Extended Mind
Clark, A. and D. Chalmers (1998). “The Extended Mind.” Analysis 58(1): 7-19. and Andy Clark again, this time on Language. Chapter from his recent book "Supersizing the Mind". [pdf] and Some recent informal discussion in the wild. To think about:
Where is the mind?
Do you talk about the mind as if it were inside the head? Why?
Does there have to be any answer to the question of "where"?
Does this change the way you think of the notion of "representation"?
How does language act as a scaffold?
Here is a counter-argument expressing a popular point of view: F. Adams and K. Aizawa, (2004?) "Defending the bounds of cognition" In Menary, R., The Extended Mind, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. And Andy Clark's response: Memento's Revenge, from the same volume. This discussion ain't over yet.
For those wanting to go further, a more complete account of (one view of) perception as understood within the Ecological tradition is available in this book: Michaels, C.F., & Carello, C. (1981). Direct perception. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Some samples of ecological approaches to audition:
Please see Andrew's post about Liz Spelke's work, and also Robert's recent post. We may view a lecture by Liz Spelke in class. The suggestions Spelke makes for the role of language are worth comparing to Clark's view we encountered earlier. Here is a very short article by Spelke on language, and here is a more comprehensive article on the Origin of Knowledge.
The enactive literature can be confusing. We will split our coverage into two distinct sets of readings. First up is the dynamic sensori-motor account most closely associated with Noe and O'Regan:
See Alva Noe's contribution to this interdisciplinary online conference on enaction. Kevin O'Regan, who is a long time collaborator with Noe, is also represented here, and skimming the other contributions will give you a feel for the work in this variety of "enaction-ism".
Freeman, Walter J. and Christine A. Skarda (1990) Representations: Who Needs Them? From: Brain Organization and Memory Cells, Systems, & Circuits. Edited by: James L. McGaugh, Norman Weinberger, Gary Lynch, page: 375–380
Now we focus on the rather different approach, grounded in both biology and phenomenology, and most closely associated with, Firstly, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, and then, with the 1991 book The Embodied Mind, with Varela Thompson and Rosch. It is hard to find appropriate summary readings here, and I will cobble a few diverse sources together.
A short anecdotal paper on Varela, the man is here.
A tutorial introduction to Maturana and Varela's theories is here (not easy going)
A recent paper of mine, presenting ideas you have already met, that may be relevant in this context is here.
There is some convergence here in widely disparate fields. Once we stop thinking of the brain/nervous system as an input driven device, its own activity appears in a new light. Constructivism is one way of emphasizing the primacy of endogeneous activity:
Heinz von Foerster, influential cybernetician and all round genius, gave a lecture at the opening of the 4th Intl Conf on Environmental Design Research in 1973. An abbreviated version is provided here in On Constructing a Reality.
while neuroscience has recently become interested in endogenous activity, often expressed with regard to one or more default network(s):
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