Journal Article

Towards a General Theory of Antirepresentationalism

Francisco Calvo Garzón

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 3, pages 259-292
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Towards a General Theory of Antirepresentationalism

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This work represents an attempt to stake out the landscape for dynamicism based on a radical dismissal of the information-processing paradigm that dominates the philosophy of cognitive science. In Section 2, after setting up the basic toolkit of a theory of minimal representationalism, I introduce the central tenets of dynamic systems theory (DST) by discussing recent research in the dynamics of embodiment (Thelen et al. [2001]) in the perseverative-reaching literature. A recent proposal on the dynamics of representation—the dynamic field approach (Spencer and Schöner [2003])—according to which the alleged representational gap between DST and representational theories of cognition needs to be bridged in order to explain higher-order cognitive activity will then be reviewed. In Section 3 I shall argue that Spencer and Schöner's attempt to bridge the representational gap may jeopardize the whole (antirepresentationalist) spirit of the DST project. In order to show why, I shall introduce the key concepts of “reliability of environment” and “primagenesis”, and argue that DST can account for de-coupled, offline cognitive activity with no need of positing representational resources. Conclusions and directions for future research will follow.

Introduction 1.1

Minimal representationalism

The Dynamic Field Approach 2.1

Dynamic systems theory and the continuity hypothesis


The dynamic field approach: Bridging the representational gap?

Towards a General Theory of Antirepresentationalism 3.1

Diagonal systems and microstimulated dissociations


Reliability of environment and primagenesis


Towards a general theory of antirepresentationalism


Journal Article.  14475 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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