06 December 2017, 18.30 – 20.00

Mind-Brain Lecture: Dan Hutto (Univ. of Wollongong, Australia)

“Radicalising cognitive science: neurodynamics without content”

Hosted by Dr. Sanneke de Haan, Univ. of Tilburg, NL

Abstract: In doing away with the idea that content is a defining feature of basic cognition, Radically Enactive accounts of Cognition, REC, theories reject the foundational assumptions of representational cognitive science. Going radical the REC way is to abandon the information processing and representationalist views of cognition in favor of a contentless vision of neurodynamics. To embrace REC is to press for an extreme take on what Engel, Maye, Kurthen, and Konig (2013, 202) call the “pragmatic turn” in cognitive science—which is the intellectual movement “away from the traditional representation centered framework towards a paradigm that focuses on understanding cognition as “enactive,” as skillful activity that involves ongoing interaction with the external world.” Making a convincing case for an alternative REC vision of neurodynamics requires answering Aizawa’s (2015, 761–762) pressing question: If the brain does not contribute information processing or symbol manipulation or the transformation of representations. then what does it do? This presentation explicates and seeks to motivate taking seriously neurodynamics understood à la REC. Such a neurodynamics takes the form of informationally sensitive, well-connected neural activity that plays influencing and mediating, as opposed to representational, roles in enabling organisms to “get a grip on the patterns that matter for the interactions that matter” Clark (2015, 5). In line with REC’s endorsement of teleosemiotics, such well-calibrated neural activity systematically influences organismic responding by maintaining connections with specific worldly features in ‘good' cases, but it does so without representing anything or being represented by anything in the brain. It will be asked to how this shift in thinking about cognition might matter and to what extent does REC constitutes a revolutionary sea change in our thinking about cognition.

All are welcome.



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Berlin School of Mind and Brain
Luisenstraße 56
10117 Berlin
R. 144 (ground floor)