If we can articulate a goal, which is tantamount to recognizing a behaviour that fulfils that goal, then we can probably define, or create, a mechanism that achieves that goal, to within some tolerable error of observation.  But not all that happens is teleological.  When we say that we can provide a mechanistic explanation of an avalanche, there is the exchange of energy, but there is no goal, nothing to replicate, and no underlying mechanism.

We see mechanisms in coordinative systems.  We also see them (I suspect) in Gibsonian perception/action machines.  We bring them into being through the constraints of the experimental psychologists laboratory.

So the question necessarily arises: whose goals are we talking about?  Mechanisms, or purposes, are probably necessary to identify the elements for whom the question of natural selection arises.  The common structures of memetics and Darwinianism may point to commonality.  Whose goals?

Enaction seems to provide a good language for talking about this important question.

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Homuncular strategies for explaining mental faculties are not in fashion. Indeed, you will be laughed out of town if you are incautious with them. Dennett likes to sanction their use as long as they cash out in less-than-intelligent sub-processes, whcih have less intelligent sub-parts themselves, and so down to stupid neurons.

Oddly, while we protest at using homuncular strategies for discussing ‘parts’ of our minds (as if minds had parts), we seem happy to use them willy-nilly when discussing the affairs of nations. It seems natural, even correct, to say things like “Russia bristled”, “China objected”, “The USA wants….” etc. I think this is not accidental, and not “mere metaphor”. From where we are standing, nations seem to behave intentionally. Complex behaviour typically appears intentional. That is, it is about something. (more…)