Representation: Problems and Solutions


The current orthodoxy in cognitive science, what I describe as a commitment to deep representationalism, faces intractable problems. If we take these objections seriously, and I will argue that we should, there are two possible responses: 1. We are mistaken that representation is the locus of our cognitive capacities; or, 2. Our representational capacities do give us critical cognitive advantages, but they are not fundamental to us qua human beings. As Andy Clark has convincingly argued, anti-representationalism, option one, is explanatorily weak. Consequently, I will argue, we need to take the second option seriously. In the first half of the paper I rehearse the problems with the current representational view and in the second half of the paper I defend and give a sketch of a two-systems view of cognition – a non-representational perceptual system coupled with a representational language-dependent one – and look at some consequences of the view.

Back to Table of Contents