Monday, September 27, 2010

student presentations: Daniel Weissglass and Javier Gomez-Lavin

This Thursday at 3:15 in Education Center room 201, Philosophy & Psychology double majors Daniel Weissglass and Javier Gomez-Lavin will be doing a practice presentation of their recent work for upcoming conferences. Presentations will be about 20 minutes each, with time for questions and answers. Please come by and support your fellow students!

"Why anti-representationalism doesn't work, and what does: Defending Rick Grush's Emulator Theory of Mental Representation against Chemero's Radical Embodied Cognitive Science" by Daniel Weissglass
Paper presentation at the 5th Annual Undergraduate Conference at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Edwardsville, Illinois.

This presentation presents a more well developed form of the thesis from earlier work (Weissglass fc LYCEUM).  Along with addressing Chemero's criticisms of ETR and representational theories in general, this paper examines the successes of Chemero's dynamical systems model and integrates it into an ETR framework.  This integration allows us to adapt Chemero's approach to be more realistic to human cognition by restricting it to describing closed-loop control behaviors, like reflexes, and using it as a complementary description of the function of ETR.  While it is clear that anti-representational dynamical systems approaches are not able to account for certain classes of cognitions,  I argue that we should not discard the dynamical systems approach, but should apply it within a representational context.  I argue that ETR provides a context especially well suited for that application because it is able to explain in what instances a dynamical systems representation is sufficient, and when a representational approach is needed.

"On the Fence: The Role of Language in Cognition" by Javier Gomez-Lavin
Paper presentation at the Northern New England Philosophical Association meeting at St. Anslem College in Manchester, NH from October 15-16

Traditional and computational accounts of cognition stipulate linguistically stuctured internal representational systems as a prerequisite for language use (Fodor, 1975). Andy Clark and other notable adherents of embedded and embodied cognition reject this claim, and posit that language use does not require a fundamental reorganization or reformatting of internal representational systems (Clark, 2008). Furthermore, Clark offers us a series of empirical studies which tentatively support his thesis.  In my paper I revisit one of these studies, finding after examination that it fails to support his claims. Instead, I argue that the studies cited by Clark – along with subsequently reviewed empirical evidence – better support an intermediate compromise between these two camps. This intermediate explanation of the role of language in cognition allows for both: i) Clark’s externalist take on language, with it acting as an attention focusing “scaffold”, and ii) the computational view that language-based mental representations will recapitulate the inherent structure of language.

a note from CofC PS President Javier:
I will be presenting my paper entitled, “On the fence: The role of language in cognition”, at this year’s Northern New England Philosophical Association meeting at St. Anslem College in Manchester, NH from October 15-16.  This paper, in its longer form, was selected for inclusion in the forthcoming issue of Chrestomathy.  It deals with how cognitive agents (e.g., us humans) use language.  Do we have to reformat or reorganize the brain in order to use it, or can we just leave it ‘in-the-world’?  I end up siding with the former camp, but I also try to update this view in light of newer studies in psychology and neuroscience.  Come to the dry-run presentation this Thursday and, please, let me know what you think! 

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