Similarity-based cognition: radical enactivism meets cognitive neuroscience

Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):1-19 (2019)
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Similarity-based cognition is commonplace. It occurs whenever an agent or system exploits the similarities that hold between two or more items—e.g., events, processes, objects, and so on—in order to perform some cognitive task. This kind of cognition is of special interest to cognitive neuroscientists. This paper explicates how similarity-based cognition can be understood through the lens of radical enactivism and why doing so has advantages over its representationalist rival, which posits the existence of structural representations or S-representations. Specifically, it is argued that there are problems both with accounting for the content of S-representations and with understanding how neurally-based structural similarities can work as representations in guiding intelligent behavior. Finally, with these clarifications in place, it is revealed how radical enactivism can commit to an account of similarity-based cognition in its understanding of neurodynamics.

Author Profiles

Miguel Segundo-Ortin
Utrecht University
Daniel D. Hutto
University of Wollongong


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