Cognition as dynamics

Damien Broderick (
Sun, 03 May 1998 11:14:24 +0000

links to a paper, accepted for publication in Behavioral and Brain
Sciences, by Tim van Gelder at Melbourne University Philosophy Dept:

Abstract: In recent years there has been increasing use of the tools of
dynamics in many areas of cognitive science. A sizeable portion of
cognitive scientists can be understood as having taken up a dynamical
approach to the study of cognition. If the heart of the dominant
computational approach is the hypothesis that cognitive agents are digital
computers, the heart of the alternative dynamical approach is the
hypothesis that cognitive agents are dynamical systems. This target article
to articulate the dynamical hypothesis, and to defend its status as an open
empirical alternative to the
computational hypothesis. Achieving these goals requires extensive
clarification of the terrain. Digital
computers and dynamical systems are characterized as specific kinds of
systems. This paves the way
for an elaboration of the two major components of the dynamical hypothesis:
the nature hypothesis
(cognitive agents are dynamical systems) and the knowledge hypothesis
(cognitive agents can be
understood dynamically). A wide range of objections to the dynamical
hypothesis can then be
rebutted. The conclusion is that cognitive systems may well be dynamical
systems, and only
sustained empirical research in cognitive science will determine the extent
to which that is true.

Damien Broderick