Monday, 28 March 2016

Distributed Cognition

This is in response to, the essay, "Distributed Cognition" by Edwin Hutchins.
         I find the concept of distributed cognition to be an entirely plausible way of explaining and understanding our cognition. As Hutchins, discusses in his essay, distributed cognition is not limited to our body or skull, it is the way in which we also use other tools, people, or other things outside of ourselves to distribute our cognition. From a young age, we are taught, in basic history classes, that at one point in time humans did not have a reading or writing system-- they depended on verbal communication and story telling in order to teach future generations of their culture and how to survive the elements. I cannot help but to think back to some of my earliest lessons came from the verbal instruction from parents, babysitters, daycare employees, teachers, etc of what to do and what not to do. 

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Extended Definition

If we are to compare the human mind with a computing device, it would soon become clear that it is peculiar in its methods. In Clark’s (2014) lecture and in Pfeiffer’s (2012) lecture, the concept of embodiment is used to show that many of the actions assumed to involve complicated mental processing can occur by virtue of the characteristics of the system. Recent work with robots has brought this facet to bare with passive walking devices, which use the swinging of the attached limbs to create smooth walking motions. All that is needed is a gradual decline and gravity will cause the device to move. Both Clark and Pfeiffer demonstrate clearly in their talks that instead of building a robot that controls every facet of the action, using the body of the system to take on most of the processing creates a much more efficient system. In such as system the body itself will do most of the walking and the computing system can work through gentle nudges and corrections to maintain its action.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

“Darwin und die englische Moral”: The Moral Consequences of Uexküll’s Umwelt Theory

This is a short review of  J. von Uexkull's Umwelt theory as contrasted to Darwin's theory of evolution by J. Beever and M.Tonnessen. J. von Uexkull wrote an essay on 'Darwin und die englishe Moral presenting the relation between German and English morality and the differences between them. Uexkull also talked about Darwin and his theory and how his own theory though similar to C. Darwin's, in a way, differed from it. All the essay was highly influenced by the political situation of the time, which all focused around the World War 1 and the relationship between Germany and England.

Monday, 14 March 2016

What is it like to be Mary? - A reaction to Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat?"

Through the use of his famous “What is it like to be a bat?” analogy, Nagel argued that the reductionist based theories of mind are not capable of explaining the phenomenon of consciousness, and that the reductionist theories of mind also neglect to consider that consciousness is something more than neurological activity, but involves the “subjective character of experience”.  Nagel argues that the subjective nature of consciousness cannot be explained through the use of objective analyses.  By using the “what is it like to be a bat” analogy, Nagel claims that no matter how much a person might try to study bats in an attempt to understand what it is like for them to fly around at dusk with webbed wings, using echolocation to perceive the world in front of them, to hunt, and hang upside down, a person will never know what it is like.  They will never be able to experience the world as the bat does (unless they were capable of transforming themselves into a bat), at best the person can only speculate and attempt to imagine what it is like to be a bat to the best of their abilities. 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Subjectivity Can't Be Universal

Imagine a diverse collection of marbles. Some of them are perfectly spherical, some of them are deformed through malfunctions in the manufacturing process, and some of them have been chipped and damaged from regular use. The marbles differ from each other in slight ways that are unique to each marble. Now throw them onto a tabletop, introducing them into an environment. The spherical marbles will roll off the table and fall onto the ground. Some of the remaining marbles will get caught on the ridges and imperfections of either the table or the marble and stop their movement. Some of them will cluster together and cause others to fall, while others will remain on the table because of this clustering. The marbles that have remained on the table are there because either the marble or the table have properties that led them to not fall off. You wouldn’t ascribe these marbles as having the intent of staying on the table, or the table of having the purpose of holding these marbles. The marbles that have remained are there because they happen to have the properties that keep them there, if they did not have those properties, they would not be there. The fact that the marbles were diverse meant that the interaction with the environment of the table allowed their separation. If the environment was different where the marble’s ability to roll was beneficial, spherical marbles would have been selected instead.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Affordances cognition and decisions

The wall is not to scale
Last night, I went for a pretty typical mid-week run. Near my house is a small wall that provides a handy shortcut, trimming a few metres off my intended route. At the start of the run, when my energy levels are high, I nearly always springboard this small wall; the wall is an affordance for my preferred running route. 

Potential of an ecological approach to a unified theory.

Traditionally, psychology and other social sciences like sociology, political science, etc., have been considered to be “soft science” disciplines, whilst natural sciences like chemistry, physics, etc., have been considered to be “hard science” disciplines.  This soft science label can be considered as a chip on the shoulder for most researchers in social science disciplines, particularly psychologists.  Unlike the natural sciences, psychology is still considered to be a rather young field of science, particularly experimental psychology, which the first lab dedicated to experimental psychology being opened in 1879 by Wilhelm Wundt.  Though many would argue that psychology is a hard science on the grounds that researchers attempt to rigorously adhere to the scientific method and prefer quantitative methods, and results, above qualitative methods, alongside the widely accepted concept that large sample sizes will make the results more generalisable to the general population.