Havelange V., Lenay C. & Stewart J. (2003) Les représentations: mémoire externe et objets techniques [Representations: External memory and technical artefacts]. Intellectica 35: 115–129. https://cepa.info/2293
Contrary to the classical definition of “representation” as standing for a pre-given referent, we propose an alternative definition of “representation” as the activity of “rendering present.” This new approach, which is rooted in the phenomenological concept of intentionality, opens the way to a research programme in cognitive science based on the notion of “enaction” and a grounding of cognition in living organisms. The conjoint bringing forth of the organism and its lived world is mediated by the organs of sensory-motor coupling. For animals, the organs are fixed; for human beings, sensory-motor coupling can be realized by transferable technical devices, thus giving rise to a wholly new domain of invention. Thus, technology is anthropologically constitutive; representations can take the form of an external memory inscribed in material objects. Phenomenologically, there is a technological genesis of intentionality, which upsets the traditional separation between the empirical and the transcendental.
Life as an autonomous homeostatic system is discussed. A mechanism that drives a homeostatic state to an autonomous self-moving state is examined with two computational cell models. The mechanism is met with Ashby’s ultrastability, where random parameter searching is activated when a system breaks a viability constraint. Such a random search process is replaced by the membrane shape in the first model and by chaotic population dynamics in the second model. Emergence of sensors, motors and the recursive coupling between them is shown to be a natural outcome of an autonomous homeostatic system.