• The Problem of Representation between Extended and Enactive Approaches to Cognition
  • Caravà, Marta <1989>


  • M-FIL/05 Filosofia e teoria dei linguaggi


  • Recent works in philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences draw an “unconventional” picture of cognitive processes and of the mind. Instead of conceiving of cognition as a process that takes place within the boundaries of the skull and the skin, some contemporary theories claim that cognition is a situated process that encompasses the human agent’s boundaries. In particular, the Extended Mind Hypothesis (EMH) and the Enactive approach to cognition claim that embodied action is constitutive of cognitive processes, and thus of the mind. Although both theories give an “extended” or “extensive” picture of cognition and of the mind, they disagree on the epistemic value of internal representations. The EMH claims that we need to posit internal action-oriented representations (AORs). AORs would account for action-selection, action-control, and for the prediction of incoming perceptual information. The enactive approach to cognition argues against AORs. The concept of AOR does not fulfill the representational conditions necessary to talk about representations properly. Furthermore, AORs are expressive of an internalistic prejudice, which makes the EMH weak. Moreover, a semiotic analysis of AORs shows that these epistemic posits are not active at all. Therefore, AORs play no interesting job in the project of “mind-extension” through action. Therefore I claim that AORs have to be rejected. Action-control, action-selection, and the anticipation of aspects of action-perception loops can be explained in a more enactive way. Embodied action in a field of affordances explains how agents respond selectively to environmental features and how action-perception loops are anticipated by the “affective agent”. Furthermore, the enactive approach to cognition - especially if coupled with a semiotic description of cognitive niches and with some insights from the affective sciences (e.g. appraisal of core relational themes) - gives an explanation of action that is actually able to “extend the mind”.


  • 2018-04-27


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Caravà, Marta (2018) The Problem of Representation between Extended and Enactive Approaches to Cognition, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Philosophy, science, cognition, and semiotics (pscs) , 30 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/8545.