Publication 7320

de Carvalho E. & Rolla G. (2020) An enactive-ecological approach to information and uncertainty. Frontiers in Psychology 11: 588. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/7320
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 a 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 intended goals in that environment. We conclude by reviewing empirical findings that support our view by showing how direct learning, seen as an 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.

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