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Embodied Cognition and Circular Causality: On the Role of Constitutive Autonomy in the Reciprocal Coupling of Perception and Action

By David eVernon, Robert eLowe, Serge eThill and Tom eZiemke and Tom eZiemke

Abstract

The reciprocal coupling of perception and action in cognitive agents has been firmly established: perceptions guide action but so too do actions influence what is perceived. While much has been said on the implications of this for the agent's external behaviour, less attention has been paid to what it means for the internal bodily mechanisms which underpin cognitive behaviour. In this article, we wish to redress this by reasserting that the relationship between cognition, perception, and action involves a constitutive element as well as a behavioural element, emphasizing that the reciprocal link between perception and action in cognition merits a renewed focus on the system dynamics inherent in constitutive biological autonomy. Our argument centres on the idea that cognition, perception, and action are all dependent on processes focussed primarily on the maintenance of the agent's autonomy. These processes have an inherently circular nature - self-organizing, self-producing, and self-maintaining - and our goal is to explore these processes and suggest how they can explain the reciprocity of perception and action. Specifically, we argue that the reciprocal coupling is founded primarily on their endogenous roles in the constitutive autonomy of the agent and an associated circular causality of global and local processes of self-regulation, rather than being a mutual sensory-motor contingency that derives from exogenous behaviour. Furthermore, the coupling occurs first and foremost via the internal milieu realized by the agent's organismic embodiment. Finally, we consider how homeostasis and the related concept of allostasis contribute to this circular self-regulation

Topics: agency, development, embodiment, autonomy, Autopoiesis, cognitive system, Psychology, BF1-990
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01660
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:a4c45de3182a4fe1ab8167cb13fe12c5
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