Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step

Paperback | January 26, 2007

byMichael Wheeler

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In Reconstructing the Cognitive World, Michael Wheeler argues that we should turn away from the generically Cartesian philosophical foundations of much contemporary cognitive science research and proposes instead a Heideggerian approach. Wheeler begins with an interpretation of Descartes. He defines Cartesian psychology as a conceptual framework of explanatory principles and shows how each of these principles is part of the deep assumptions of orthodox cognitive science (both classical and connectionist). Wheeler then turns to Heidegger's radically non-Cartesian account of everyday cognition, which, he argues, can be used to articulate the philosophical foundations of a genuinely non-Cartesian cognitive science. Finding that Heidegger's critique of Cartesian thinking falls short, even when supported by Hubert Dreyfus's influential critique of orthodox artificial intelligence, Wheeler suggests a new Heideggerian approach. He points to recent research in "embodied-embedded" cognitive science and proposes a Heideggerian framework to identify, amplify, and clarify the underlying philosophical foundations of this new work. He focuses much of his investigation on recent work in artificial intelligence-oriented robotics, discussing, among other topics, the nature and status of representational explanation, and whether (and to what extent) cognition is computation rather than a noncomputational phenomenon best described in the language of dynamical systems theory.

Wheeler's argument draws on analytic philosophy, continental philosophy, and empirical work to "reconstruct" the philosophical foundations of cognitive science in a time of a fundamental shift away from a generically Cartesian approach. His analysis demonstrates that Heideggerian continental philosophy and naturalistic cognitive science need not be mutually exclusive and shows further that a Heideggerian framework can act as the "conceptual glue" for new work in cognitive science.

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In Reconstructing the Cognitive World, Michael Wheeler argues that we should turn away from the generically Cartesian philosophical foundations of much contemporary cognitive science research and proposes instead a Heideggerian approach. Wheeler begins with an interpretation of Descartes. He defines Cartesian psychology as a conceptua...

Michael Wheeler is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Stirling. He is the author of Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step (MIT Press, 2005).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:356 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.75 inPublished:January 26, 2007Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262731827

ISBN - 13:9780262731829

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Taking Rodney Brooks's pronouncement 'It isn't German philosophy' as his point of departure, Wheeler shows that, on the contrary, much of the most recent and interesting work in cognitive science has been implicitly, but importantly, guided by principles that derive from the work of the great German phenomenologist Martin Heidegger. In rigorously and lucidly prosecuting this case, Wheeler develops a devastating attack on Cartesian cognitive science, and produces his own significant contribution towards an embedded and embodied alternative. This is a wonderful and timely book.