Centre for Cognitive Science (COGS)

Marek McGann: Times, Minds, Bodies

Dr Marek McGann, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, School of Psychology
2nd December 2008

A dynamical systems approach to explaining cognitive systems has been trying to overturn some of the intuitions about temporal dimension of minds for the past fifteen years or so. The principal argument has concerned the distinction between discrete and continuous concepts of mind-time, but mention is often made of processes being "temporally extended", particularly when the dynamical account is part of an embodied or enactive description of cognition. I will raise the question of just how temporally extended we might want or need to allow cognitive processes to become, and outline some implications of that, not only for traditional computational accounts (the criticisms of which are well rehearsed), but also for enactive and other embodied accounts (in that the relationship between immediate bodily actions and cognition may not be as clearcut as we might like). There are also some significant ramifications for the kind of methods we might use in conducting cognitive research and some suggestions for possibly fruitful avenues of future research.