On embodied cognition and the problem of mental representation
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This paper began as something written for a seminar on Edmund Husserl. The original focused on how Husserl’s work anticipated advancements in cognitive science and embodied cognition research. This paper here was an eventual edit of that original paper that was presented as a poster presentation at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology’s (SPP) 2012 annual meeting.
With its historical roots in the phenomenological perspective of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, embodied cognition has been able to address classically problematic issues in cognitive science. In this paper I examine the model of visual consciousness put forth by Alva Noë and J. Kevin O’Regan, and the model of learning and skill acquisition put forth by Hubert Dreyfus. In each case the authors attempt to explain aspects of cognition and consciousness without recourse to mental representations. These accounts, and others, have been embraced by many philosophers of mind. I charge that while they provide a better explanation of aspects of cognition, they fail to address fundamental questions to do with the intentionality of our mental states towards the world. In rejecting representation, they keep pushing the fundamental question of intentionality further and further back.
Below I’m also including the poster that was eventually presented at the conference.