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Multiscale Integration: Beyond Internalism and Externalism

Ramstead, Maxwell J. D. and Kirchhoff, Michael D. and Constant, Axel and Friston, Karl J. (2019) Multiscale Integration: Beyond Internalism and Externalism. [Preprint]

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Abstract

We present a multiscale integrationist interpretation on the boundaries of cognitive systems, using the Markov blanket formalism of the variational free energy principle (FEP). This interpretation is intended as a corrective for the philosophical debate over internalist and externalist interpretations of cognitive boundaries; we stake out a compromise position. We first survey key principles of new radical (extended, enactive, embodied) views of cognition. We then describe an internalist interpretation premised on the Markov blanket formalism. Having reviewed these accounts, we develop our positive multiscale account. We argue that the statistical seclusion of internal from external states of the system – entailed by the existence of a Markov boundary – can coexist happily with the multiscale integration of the system through its dynamics. Our approach does not privilege any given boundary (whether it be that of the brain, body, or world), nor does it argue that all boundaries are equally prescient. We argue that the relevant boundaries of cognition depend on the level being characterised and the explanatory interests that guide investigation. We approach the issue of how and where to draw the boundaries of cognitive systems through a multiscale ontology of cognitive systems, which offers a multidisciplinary research heuristic for cognitive science.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Ramstead, Maxwell J. D.maxwell.d.ramstead@gmail.com0000-0002-1477-8177
Kirchhoff, Michael D.
Constant, Axel
Friston, Karl J.
Keywords: Boundaries of cognition; variational free energy principle; externalism; internalism; enactive cognition; embodied cognition; Markov blankets
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Mr MJD R
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2019 18:26
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2019 18:26
Item ID: 15677
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 2019
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15677

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