This year's course (2017-2018) will be taught by Erik Myin. We deal with the philosophy of cognitive science, as treated in Andy Clark's Mindware (second edition, 2014), with special attention to the Radically Enactive take on it, as proposed and defended in Hutto & Myin's Radicalizing Enactivism (2013) and Evolving Enactivism (2017).
On Clark (2014):
"Panging across both standard philosophical territory and the landscape of cutting-edge cognitive science, Mindware: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Second Edition, is a vivid and engaging introduction to key issues, research, and opportunities in the field.
Starting with the vision of mindware as software and debates between realists, instrumentalists, and eliminativists, Andy Clark takes students on a no-holds-barred journey through connectionism, dynamical systems, and real-world robotics before moving on to the frontiers of cognitive technologies, enactivism, predictive coding, and the extended mind. Throughout, he highlights challenging issues in an effort to engage students in active debate. Each chapter opens with a brief sketch of a major research tradition or perspective, followed by concise critical discussions dealing with key topics and problems."
On Hutto & Myin (2013):
"Most of what humans do and experience is best understood in terms of dynamically unfolding interactions with the environment. Many philosophers and cognitive scientists now acknowledge the critical importance of situated, environment-involving embodied engagements as a means of understanding basic minds -- including basic forms of human mentality. Yet many of these same theorists hold fast to the view that basic minds are necessarily or essentially contentful -- that they represent conditions the world might be in. In this book, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin promote the cause of a radically enactive, embodied approach to cognition that holds that some kinds of minds -- basic minds -- are neither best explained by processes involving the manipulation of contents nor inherently contentful. Hutto and Myin oppose the widely endorsed thesis that cognition always and everywhere involves content. They defend the counter-thesis that there can be intentionality and phenomenal experience without content, and demonstrate the advantages of their approach for thinking about scaffolded minds and consciousness."
On Hutto & Myin (2017):
Evolving Enactivism argues that cognitive phenomena -- perceiving, imagining, remembering -- can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. Building on their earlier book Radicalizing Enactivism, which proposes that there can be forms of cognition without content, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin demonstrate the unique explanatory advantages of recognizing that only some forms of cognition have content while others -- the most elementary ones -- do not. They offer an account of the mind in duplex terms, proposing a complex vision of mentality in which these basic contentless forms of cognition interact with content-involving ones.
Hutto and Myin argue that the most basic forms of cognition do not, contrary to a currently popular account of cognition, involve picking up and processing information that is then used, reused, stored, and represented in the brain. Rather, basic cognition is contentless -- fundamentally interactive, dynamic, and relational. In advancing the case for a radically enactive account of cognition, Hutto and Myin propose crucial adjustments to our concept of cognition and offer theoretical support for their revolutionary rethinking, emphasizing its capacity to explain basic minds in naturalistic terms. They demonstrate the explanatory power of the duplex vision of cognition, showing how it offers powerful means for understanding quintessential cognitive phenomena without introducing scientifically intractable mysteries into the mix."