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Type: Conference paper
Title: The foundational problem for cognition
Author: Keijzer, Fred
Lyon, Pamela Christine
Citation: Booklet of Abstracts for the International Conference on Postcognitive Psychology, 4-6 July 2005, University of Stathclyde.
Issue Date: 2005
Conference Name: International Conference on Postcognitive Psychology (2005 : University of Stathclyde)
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : Philosophy
Statement of
Fred Keijzer and Pamela Lyon
Abstract: What is cognition? Despite the existence of a science of cognition there is no clear agreement on what makes certain phenomena cognitive, and others not. Within cognitivism the issue was neglected. Human intelligence was used as a standard, and any process—natural or artificial—that fitted this standard sufficiently could be considered ‘cognitive’. For post-cognitivist psychology the situation is different. It cannot rely on the ‘human standard’ in the same way. One might even say that the need for a post-cognitivist psychology arose because cognitivism began with this most complex of all cognitive systems without a good understanding and appreciation of more basic, biological cases. Embodied cognition approaches remedy this anthropocentric bias by addressing a more varied set of processes that are not strictly limited to humans. Under these circumstances the question what we take cognition to be is more urgent. Are phenomena like insect walking (Brooks) and goal-seeking missiles (O’Regan and Noë) examples of cognition or not? What criteria do we use to answer such questions? Given this problem, the notion of perception-action coupling (or sensorimotor contingencies) becomes an important and fairly obvious option to provide a foundation for the notion of cognition. However, and intriguingly, the same problem occurs again: What are perception-action couplings? What would make something an example of perception-action coupling? Where are we to draw a line, if anywhere? It is self-evident that O’Regan and Noë’s (2001) example of a goal-seeking missile is controversial, but why exactly? What is missing? Can we ever do more than making intuitive judgments here? A way out of this dilemma may be found by developing the claim that perception-action coupling must be grounded in a biological context (Keijzer, 2001), and following what Lyon (2005) calls a biogenic approach. This option raises a whole new field of issues and topics that is of central concern for a postcognitivist psychology.
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