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The Santiago Theory of Cognition


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#1 fresco

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 03:20 PM

Does the Santiago Theory of Cognition (Maturana et al) which postulates that "cognition" is merely another name for all "life processes" render concepts of individual action such as "free will" or "selfhood" vacuous ?

#2 billg

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Posted 19 August 2007 - 06:31 PM

No more than any other materialist theory of the mind.

However their theory may have relevance to expanding "free will" or "selfhood" to the other life processes they propose fall under the umbrella of "cognition". If "selfhood" is a product a system of components that are regulated by each other, or have a higher amount of interconnectivity than a perceived "external" world (that is, selfhood allows the description of a "self" and an "other" on the basis of the "self" system more "closely-knit" than that system plus other components), then perhaps selfhood can be expanded to other such "cognitive" systems; to use the example I could find on the web, the immune system. On the other hand, self-recognition and the perception of free-will may require specific computational modules (as suggested by the loss of such perception in people with particular types of brain injury/disorder) that only brains possess.

#3 fresco

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 05:46 PM

Thanks for that. I need to check on Maturana's handling of language before replying in detail. Will get back.

#4 fresco

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 04:16 AM

billg,

I'm not sure about your use of the word "materialistic" The latter part of this seems to give a few clues. (not allowed to link yet so GOOGLE Maturana Reality)


From a "nested systems" point of view (Von Foerster), the individual can "make choices" from its own observational level, but from the point of a second order observer such behaviour is deemed "contingent". I understand this as saying from the the "higher level" we are like bloodcells subservient to the determinism of "bodily maintenance".
Maturana follows Bateson's view that "self awareness" is a by-product of "language use" and language is about "co-ordination of action". Since language is a social phenomenon, it seems to me that "self" is a social entity involved in coordination "dialogue" (including self with self), and that the "second order observer" is one who sees the "body" to whom individuals are subservient as a "social entity". This is not a materialist view which would construct "self" from the bottom up.