Cappuccio M. & Wheeler M. (2012) Ground-level intelligence: Action-oriented representation and the dynamics of the background. In: Radman Z. (ed.) Knowing without thinking: Mind, action, cognition and the phenomenon of the background. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke: 13–36.
Excerpt: In what follows, we shall argue that the defiantly nonrepresentational conception of ground-level intelligence developed and defended by Dreyfus himself, and by others who share his general approach, is ultimately unable to do justice to the distinctive dynamics of background, precisely because that conception, at least partly as a consequence of its representation-shunning character, fails to encompass the particular, transformative, background-involving embodied capacity so strikingly illustrated by the King’s routine.
Wheeler M. (1995) Escaping from the Cartesian mind-set: Heidegger and artificial life. In: Morán F., Moreno A. J., Merelo J. & Chacon P. (eds.) Advances in artificial life. Springer, Berlin: 65–76. https://cepa.info/2945
In this paper, I propose a neo-Heideggerian framework for A-Life. Following an explanation of some key Heideggerian ideas, I endorse the view that persistent problems in orthodox cognitive science result from a commitment to a Cartesian subject-object divide. Heidegger rejects the primacy of the subject-object dichotomy; and I set about the task of showing how, by adopting a Heideggerian view, A-Life can avoid the problems that have plagued cognitive science. This requires that we extend the standard Heideggerian frame-work by introducing the notion of a biological background, a set of evolutionarily determined practices which structure the norms of animal worlds. I argue that optimality/ESS models in behavioural ecology provide a set of tools for identifying these norms, and, to secure this idea, I defend a form of adaptationism against enactivist worries. Finally, I show how A-Life can assist in the process of mapping out biological backgrounds, and how recent dynamical systems approaches in A-Life fit in with the neo-Heideggerian conceptual framework.
Wheeler M. (2008) Autopoiesis, enactivism, and the extended mind (abstract). In: Bullock S., Noble J., Watson R. & Bedau M. A. (eds.) Artificial life XI. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 819. https://cepa.info/6305
Wheeler M. (2016) The rest is science: What does phenomenology tell us about cognition. In: Reynolds J. & Sebold R. (eds.) Phenomenology and science. Palgrave Macmillan, New York: 87–101. https://cepa.info/6195
Let me put up my hand straight away: I am a naturalist about cognition. What does this mean? First things first: I take ‘cognition’ to be a catch-all term encompassing the various states and processes that we typically identify as psychological phenomena (the states and processes of memory, perception, reasoning, etc.). The guiding thought of naturalism is that philosophy should be continuous with empirical science. So the naturalist about cognition (that’s me) thinks that the philosophical understanding of cognition (of the states and processes of memory, perception, reasoning, etc.) should be continuous with cognitive science. I take the naturalist notion of continuity with empirical science to be determined by the following principle of conflict resolution (Wheeler 2013): if and when there is a genuine clash between philosophy and some eminently well-supported (by the data) empirical science, then that is a good reason for the philosopher to at least revisit her claims, with a view to withdrawal or revision. The envisaged clash, on its own anyway, puts no such pressure upon the scientist. So where phenomenology (as a branch of philosophy) and well-supported cognitive science conflict, it is the phenomenologist, and not the cognitive scientist, who should revisit her claims.
Optimising the 4E (embodied–embedded–extended–enactive) revolution in cognitive science arguably requires the rejection of two guiding commitments made by orthodox thinking in the field, namely that the material realisers of cognitive states and processes are located entirely inside the head (internalism), and that intelligent thought and action are to be explained in terms of the building and manipulation of content-bearing representations (representationalism). In other words, the full- strength 4E revolution would be secured only by a position that delivered externalism plus antirepresentationalism. I argue that one view in 4E space – extended functionalism – is appropriately poised to deliver externalism but not antirepresentationalism. By contrast, in the case of a competing 4E view – radical enactivism – even if that view can deliver antirepresentationalism, its pivotal notion of extensiveness falls short of establishing externalism. These conclusions are justified via an examination of, and by responding critically to, certain key arguments offered in support of their view (and against extended functionalism) by the radical enactivists.