The University of Sussex

Taking embodiment seriously: non-conceptual content and computation

Ronald L. Chrisley

The fact that there are aspects of intentional behaviour, be it of artificial or natural autonomous systems, that can only be explained in terms of non conceptual content (NCC) places several demands on a theory that aims to explain the full range of intentional behaviour. It is argued that the way to answer these demands is to take embodiment seriously, by establishing a close connection between intentionality and its non-intentional realizing substrate (both the system and its environment) in two ways. First, we need an alternative means of content specification that can, unlike the standard method of linguistic use ("that" clauses) which proceeds independently of how a system is embedded and embodied, canonically specify NCC's. It is proposed that a worked out means of specifying the underlying, context-involving computational and robotic properties of an intentional system might go a long way to meeting this requirement; a few ideas for alternative means of content specification are proposed and evaluated. Second, naturalism dictates that there be a close connection between our intentional and non-intentional characterizations of a system; to satisfy this, NCC seems to require and alternative to symbolic architectures. This second connection between NCC and embodiment is discussed only briefly before concluding.


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