Year

2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Liberal Arts

Abstract

A revolution is afoot in the cognitive sciences. For decades, the received view has been that all forms of cognitive activity need to be explained by appealing to mental representations and the sort of computational mechanisms by which these representations are manipulated and transformed. This received view is now being questioned by those who defend radical, non-representational approaches to cognition. This dissertation takes issue with one specific radical approach: the radical enactive account of cognition, or REC. My overall goal is to articulate a positive, complementary relationship between REC and a series of already existing approaches in the cognitive sciences in the form of ecological psychology and similaritybased theories in cognitive neuroscience. I hold that it is by incorporating these scientific frameworks into REC that we can build a theoretically sound, empirically robust positive alternative to both representationalism and other forms of enactivism. This dissertation is composed of five autonomous but thematically intertwined papers, all of them presented as independent chapters. The first paper is devoted to discussing different objections to the possibility of a radical embodied cognitive science. The second paper focuses on the debate about plant intelligence from a radical embodied perspective. The third chapter problematizes the notion of structural or S-representation and explicates how neutrally-based structural similarities can play an explanatory role in a radical enactive cognitive neuroscience. The last two papers explore the complementarities between REC and ecological psychology, presenting the case for a full-blown alliance between both frameworks.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.