From computers to cultivation

From computers to cultivation

Another article Sulikowski referenced, highlighting the debate between the computational and 4E models. Therein it notes that the computational approach is akin to Chomsky’s computational linguistics. Note that Lakoff broke from Chomsky on this and went on to formulate embodied linguistics. It appears this debate is an ongoing battle in different fields. The abstract:

“Does evolutionary theorizing have a role in psychology? This is a more contentious issue than one might imagine, given that, as evolved creatures, the answer must surely be yes. The contested nature of evolutionary psychology lies not in our status as evolved beings, but in the extent to which evolutionary ideas add value to studies of human behavior, and the rigor with which these ideas are tested. This, in turn, is linked to the framework in which particular evolutionary ideas are situated. While the framing of the current research topic places the brain-as-computer metaphor in opposition to evolutionary psychology, the most prominent school of thought in this field (born out of cognitive psychology, and often known as the Santa Barbara school) is entirely wedded to the computational theory of mind as an explanatory framework. Its unique aspect is to argue that the mind consists of a large number of functionally specialized (i.e., domain-specific) computational mechanisms, or modules (the massive modularity hypothesis). Far from offering an alternative to, or an improvement on, the current perspective, we argue that evolutionary psychology is a mainstream computational theory, and that its arguments for domain-specificity often rest on shaky premises. We then go on to suggest that the various forms of e-cognition (i.e., embodied, embedded, enactive) represent a true alternative to standard computational approaches, with an emphasis on “cognitive integration” or the “extended mind hypothesis” in particular. We feel this offers the most promise for human psychology because it incorporates the social and historical processes that are crucial to human “mind-making” within an evolutionarily informed framework. In addition to linking to other research areas in psychology, this approach is more likely to form productive links to other disciplines within the social sciences, not least by encouraging a healthy pluralism in approach.”

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Paul Watson

Natural selection designs organisms to be capable of complex contingent responsiveness to the (inner and outer) environment. That is what nervous systems are for. Note they infuse the whole body with their various neural projections. Such contingent responses, to be adaptive, involve adequately complex computations. No matter where they occur. Both data generation and analyses take place in the nervous system, and within all other systems it is attached to, e.g., via the autonomic nervous system. Find me a decision-making system anywhere in the body that is not in communication with the rest of the body via the neuroendocrine system.… Read more »

Paul Watson

That’s cool. I think another way to explain my dismay with the e-cog “revolution” stems from the dramatic reduction in training biologists receive in evolution and organismal biology. This itself may lead many practitioners to misunderstand how organisms work and come to very silly non-e-cog, non-holistic conceptions about the true life of the “body/mind.” Natural selection began to favor brains to put functional groups of neurons, many receiving copious primary and secondary information from the body, in proximity to one another; this promotes collaborative computational efficiency. But, before even simple brains (think, e.g., nematodes) there was tons of whole body… Read more »

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