Beyond Representationalism: A Dynamical Approach Transcending Symbolism in Cognitive Psychology

  • Donald L. Rowe


Representationalism has defined the premise that cognition must involve a capacity to manipulate symbolic information. Although this approach has provided a good metaphoric and descriptive view of cognition, it ignores the distinct neural properties of the brain. This chapter has explored this problem by providing a more neurologically plausible account through the use of dynamical and chaotic systems theory. Symbols or representations were suggested to be epiphenomenonal to actual neural function and were considered as descriptions of behavior rather than cognition. Instead such entities were presumed to be embedded and decomposed in low level chaotic activity of the brain in such a manner that their localisation to specific neural entities was not a critical factor. The formation of knowledge, memories, or action was considered as an emergent property of distinct neural patterns of activity that result from the interaction of various neural groups.


Attractor State Phase Portrait Emergent Property Olfactory System Strange Attractor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald L. Rowe
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WollongongAustralia

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