Volume 3, Issue 3, 2012
Mental Representations and the Dynamic Theory of Mind
In this paper I will investigate the possibility of defending the concept of ‘mental representation’ against certain contemporary critiques. Some authors, like
Anthony Chemero, argue that it is possible to explain offline actions with dynamic concepts. Hence, the dynamic discourse preempts the representational one. I doubt that this is a recommendable strategy. A form of representation is necessary, though one which is different from the classical one. Instead of eliminating the concept of representation (as radical dynamicists do) or of splitting cognitive explanation in two separate discourses (as the adepts of the hybrid cognition version do), I consider that a dynamic concept of ‘representation’ is a better option. In my view, the higher level order resulted from the complex brain-body-environment coupling can be interpreted as being representational in nature. The dynamic paradigm involves a significant change concerning the intentional nature of representational states: the basic forms of representations are not maps of reality implemented as such in the brain, but limit conditions, attractors constraining the cognitive system’s evolution in its space state to reach its goals. On a certain threshold of complexity, the system develops stable attractors and attractor landscapes which could be interpreted as standing for something outside the system. This conception offers the advantages of avoiding preemption
argument, of unifying the cognitive explanation and, by its interscalar account, offers dynamic tools for building more complex artificial intelligent systems.