Interactivist Summer Institute

July 22 - 26, 2003


Two New Principles of Interactivist Architecture:

Microgenesis and Themes.

Mark H. Bickhard

Standard computationalist models construe process as programs operating on encoded symbols, or as representational activation vectors coursing through state space. There is more wrong with such models than just their encodingist notions of representation; there is also a fundamental restriction of kinds of dynamics to those that either operate on, or are engaged in by, representations. The interactivist model opens up the possibilities of relevant dynamics in multiple and multifarious ways.

One crucially important example is that of microgenesis. Microgenesis has to do with the ongoing micro-construction of modes of interactive functioning. Ironically, there is something akin to microgenesis in computers, but, for all the damage done by crude importations of computer metaphors into models of cognition, this aspect of computer functioning is relegated to a mere implementational level, and it is never considered that there may be comparable processes in cognition. In fact, microgenesis is a dynamic architectural principle that is essential to modeling heuristic learning and problem solving; analogy, metaphor, and similarity; and multiple other cognitive phenomena.

Another example is that of themes. Themes are functional relationships among dynamic processes that specify aspects or properties of interactions and representations, rather than actions or subactions, or representations or subrepresentations, per se. Themes are essential to modeling higher cognition, and yet can be found in the architectural and dynamic principles of cockroaches. As usual, there is no natural place for themes in standard models.


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