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7.1c.2. Evolution of Cognition, Misc (Evolution of Cognition, Misc on PhilPapers)

García, Claudia Lorena (2007). Cognitive Modularity, Biological Modularity and Evolvability. Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution and Cognition (KLI) 2 (1):62-73.   (Google)
Abstract: There is an argument that has recently been deployed in favor of thinking that the mind is mostly (or even exclusively) composed of cognitive modules; an argument that draws from some ideas and concepts of evolutionary and of developmental biology. In a nutshell, the argument concludes that a mind that is massively composed of cognitive mechanisms that are cognitively modular (henceforth, c-modular) is more evolvable than a mind that is not c-modular (or that is scarcely c-modular), since a cognitive mechanism that is c-modular is likely to be biologically modular (henceforth, b-modular), and b-modular characters are more evolvable (e.g., Sperber 2002, Carruthers 2005). In evolutionary biology, the evolvability of a character in an organism is understood as the “organism’s capacity to facilitate the generation of non-lethal selectable phenotypic variation from random mutation” with respect to that character. Here I will argue that the notion of cognitive modularity needed to make this argument plausible will have to be understood in terms of the biological notion of variational independence; that is, it will have to be understood in such a way that a cognitive feature is c-modular only if few or no other morphological changes (cognitive and not) are significantly correlated with variations of that feature arising in members of the relevant population. I will also argue that all –except for (possibly) one—of the connotations contained in a cluster of notions of cognitive modularity widely accepted in some of the mainstream currents of thought in classical cognitive science, are simply irrelevant to the argument. In order to argue for this, I will have to examine the question as to whether there are any strong theoretical connections between (1) those connotations and (2) notions of modularity accepted in biology, specially in evolutionary and in developmental biology, that are thought to be most relevant to arguments to the effect that biological modularity enhances evolvability.
Gross, Steven (2010). Origins of human communication - by Michael Tomasello. Mind and Language 25 (2):237-246.   (Google)
Jeffares, Ben (online). The Evolution of Technical Competence: Economic and Strategic Thinking. ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper will outline a series of changes in the archaeological record related to Hominins. I argue that these changes underlie the emergence of the capacity for strategic thinking. The paper will start by examining the foundation of technical skills found in primates, and then work through various phases of the archaeological and paleontological record. I argue that the key driver for the development of strategic thinking was the need to expand range sizes and cope with increasingly heterogeneous environments.
Menant, Christophe, Evolution of meaningful information generation through the evolution of life (2003).   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper, we use the Meaning Generator System (MGS) presented at Gathering in Biosemiotics 2 [1] to analyse the evolution of meaningful information generation through different steps of the evolution of life. Taking as a starting point the usage of MGS for vital constraint satisfaction in basic life (paramecium), we develop its application for more complex living elements up to the case of non-human primate. The thread we follow is relative to the identification of new constraints that can appear through evolution of life, and correspondingly participate to generation of new types of meaningful information. We show that beside the complexification of vital constraints to be satisfied, and in addition to the corresponding enrichment of their satisfaction processes, there is a step in evolution that naturally introduces some specific new constraint in living elements. This step is the one corresponding to the performance of self-representation. Self-representation appeared in evolution at the level of non-human primates. We present the content of self-representation and show that it has a direct consequence on the living element in terms of a new type of constraint to be satisfied. We show that this new constraint participates to the generation of a new set of meaningful information via the MGS, and that the satisfaction of the constraint introduces some natural formulation of emotion generation during the evolution of life. [1]
Menant, Christophe (ms). From biosemiotics to semiotics (2002).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Biosemiotics and Semiotics have similarities and differences. Both deal with signal and meaning. One difference is that Biosemiotics covers a domain (life) that is less complex that the one addressed by Semiotics (human). We believe that this difference can be used to have Biosemiotics bringing added value to Semiotics. This belief is based on the fact that a theory of meaning is easier to build up for living elements than for humans, and that the results obtained for life can make available some tools for a higher level of complexity. Semiotic has been encountering some difficulties to deliver a scientific theory of meaning that can be efficient at the level of human mind. The obstacles come from our ignorance on the nature of human. As it is true that we do not understand the nature of human mind on a scientific basis. On the other hand, the nature and properties of life are better understood. And we can propose a modelization for a generation of meaningful information in the field of elementary life. Once such a modelization is established, it is possible to look at extending it to the domain of human life. Such an approach on a theory of meaning (begininig in Biosemiotics and aiming at Semiotics), is what we present in this paper. Taking an elementary living element as reference, we introduce the bases of a systemic theory of meaning. Using a simple living system submitted to a constraint, we define a meaningful information, a meaning generator system and some elements related to meaningful information transmission. We then try to identify the hypothesis that need to be taken into account so the results obtained for living elements can be extended to human
Menant, Christophe (2005). Information and meaning in life, humans and robots (2005). Proceedings of FIS2005 by MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Information and meaning exist around us and within ourselves, and the same information can correspond to different meanings. This is true for humans and animals, and is becoming true for robots. We propose here an overview of this subject by using a systemic tool related to meaning generation that has already been published (C. Menant, Entropy 2003). The Meaning Generator System (MGS) is a system submitted to a constraint that generates a meaningful information when it receives an incident information that has a relation with the constraint. The content of the meaningful information is explicited, and its function is to trigger an action that will be used to satisfy the constraint of the system. The MGS has been introduced in the case of basic life submitted to a "stay alive" constraint. We propose here to see how the usage of the MGS can be extended to more complex living systems, to humans and to robots by introducing new types of constraints, and integrating the MGS into higher level systems. The application of the MGS to humans is partly based on a scenario relative to the evolution of body self-awareness toward self-consciousness that has already been presented (C. Menant, Biosemiotics 2003, and TSC 2004). The application of the MGS to robots is based on the definition of the MGS applied to robots functionality, taking into account the origins of the constraints. We conclude with a summary of this overview and with themes that can be linked to this systemic approach on meaning generation
Menant, Christophe (ms). Introduction to a Systemic Theory of Meaning (Jan 2010 update).   (Google | More links)
Menant, Christophe, Proposal for an approach to artificial consciousness based on self-consciousness.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Current research on artificial consciousness is focused on phenomenal consciousness and on functional consciousness. We propose to shift the focus to self-consciousness in order to open new areas of investigation. We use an existing scenario where self-consciousness is considered as the result of an evolution of representations. Application of the scenario to the possible build up of a conscious robot also introduces questions relative to emotions in robots. Areas of investigation are proposed as a continuation of this approach