An Enactive-Ecological Approach to Information and Uncertainty

Frontiers in Psychology 11 (Enaction and Ecological Psycholo):1-11 (2020)
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Abstract

Information is a central notion for cognitive sciences and neurosciences, but there is no agreement on what it means for a cognitive system to acquire information about its surroundings. In this paper, we approximate three influential views on information: the one at play in ecological psychology, which is sometimes called information for action; the notion of information as covariance as developed by some enactivists, and the idea of information as minimization of uncertainty as presented by Shannon. Our main thesis is that information for action can be construed as covariant information, and that learning to perceive covariant information is a matter of minimizing uncertainty through skilled performance. We argue that the agent’s cognitive system conveys information for acting in an environment by minimizing uncertainty about how to achieve her intended goals in that environment. We conclude by reviewing empirical findings that support our view and by showing how direct learning, seen as instance of ecological rationality at work, is how mere possibilities for action are turned into embodied know-how. Finally, we indicate the affinity between direct learning and sense-making activity.

Author Profiles

Eros Carvalho
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
Giovanni Rolla
Universidade Federal da Bahia

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