Thursday, July 25, 2013

CIC action vs REC embodied action

Enactivists inspired by its original formulation invoke the notion of “embodied action” even when describing mental activity that doesn’t involve content or representations of any kind. For intellectualists this makes no sense, since for them nothing qualifies as an action proper unless it is produced by or otherwise connected to contentful states of mind of some sort. Thus, when enactivists speak of “embodied action” and their intellectual opponents talk of “action,” they are not operating with the same notion of action. There is a chance that when this semantic confusion is cleared up the relevant philosophical work might be divvied up so that REC and restricted CIC complement each other. 
Yes, all this sounds right.  
But this envisaged rapprochement between REC and restricted CIC is not in the cards as long as intellectualist extremists continue to demand that any bout of activity counts as mindful only if it is connected with contentful states of mind. As long as that commitment is in place, CIC is unrestricted and logically excludes REC.
But, this seems hasty to me.  Why can't the rapprochement be that CIC keeps what it means by "action" and REC folks tell us what they mean by "embodied action" so we can be clear not to confuse the two?    Then we might begin to examine evidence for the two theories.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Who fights this?

What REC insists on is that creatures are capable of dealing with aspects of their environments, sometimes in quite remarkable and sophisticated ways (ways that count as properly mental and cognitive), even if the capacity for content-involving deliberation or planning never develops. 
It seems to me that CIC could well agree that there are creatures who deal with their environments in quite remarkable and sophisticated ways that count as cognitive and mental without content-involving deliberation and planning.  Deliberation and planning are only some types of cognitive processes.

Maybe deer reacting to headlights by freezing involves dealing with an environment using representations, but I presume that deer do not deliberate about whether to freeze.  Nor do they plan to freeze.

But, then again, the freezing response might not be very remarkable or sophisticated.  Human navigation through a crowded train station might be remarkable and sophisticated (Haugeland in "Mind embodied and embedded" would seem to have been of this opinion), but a lot of that does not involve deliberation or planning.  That might be highly reactive.  I don't think one has to give up one's CIC card in order to hold that view.  Such a restricted CIC does not seem all that restricted to me.

Or, maybe a better example still is language acquisition.  A dyed-in-the-wool cognitivist CIC could think that language acquisition is an extremely remarkable and sophisticated process that requires mental representation, but that it requires little in the way of planning or deliberation.

How Things Shape the mind: A Theory of Material Engagement

How Things Shape the Mind

A full-blown exportation of the extended mind from philosophy?