ENSO Seminar Series

Naturally Evolving Minds: Transformation and Continuity

Glenda Satne

University of Wollongong
Dec. 13, 2018, 7 p.m. UTC // Dec. 13, 2018, 1 p.m. in America/Mexico_City

According to Enactivism, cognition is enactive, embodied and embedded: an interactional engagement with-in the world on the part of situated agents. Enactivism rejects the idea that basic forms of cognition involve representing worldly objects and facts. Radical Enactivism (REC) in its turn, denies that cognition must always and everywhere involve content, but concedes that sometimes cognition is content-involving. Thus, REC is committed to providing a story about the progression from basic forms of cognition to content-involving ones and an account of the relationship between them. In this talk, I examine two important challenges that REC faces. First, the “continuity problem” (Menary 2015, Clowes and Mendonça 2015), i.e. whether REC is committed to a “saltationist view” in describing the progression from non-human forms of cognition to human specific ones, a view that is incompatible with evolutionary continuity. Second, the “transformation challenge” (Kern & Moll 2017), i.e. the charge that content-involving forms of cognition are transformative and thus transform the nature of basic forms of cognition penetrating them with content, leaving no room for basic non-contentful forms of cognition for transformed minds.

In discussing such challenges, evolutionary, psychological and philosophical aspects of transformation and continuity are considered. The motivations that each of these theoretical domains provide for thinking that human specific forms of cognition are alike/different from non-human ones are discussed. The outcome of such considerations is that continuity and transformation are not all-or-nothing phenomena, especially when not considered under the light of philosophical necessity arguments. This leaves room for transformation, evolution, and interaction between basic and non-basic forms of cognition but it also comes at a cost, i.e. denying the credo that cognition is by necessity a uniform phenomenon.

Link for the talk: http://ensoseminars.com/presentations/forthcoming


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