ABSTRACT: The notion of information processing has dominated the study of the mind for over six decades. However, before the advent of cognitivism, one of the most prominent theoretical ideas was that of Habit. This is a concept with a rich and complex history, which is again starting to awaken interest, following recent embodied, enactive critiques of computationalist frameworks. We offer here a very brief history of the concept of habit in the form of a genealogical network-map. This serves to provide an overview of the richness of this notion and as a guide for further re-appraisal. We identify 77 thinkers and their influences, and group them into seven schools of thought. Two major trends can be distinguished. One is the associationist trend, starting with the work of Locke and Hume, developed by Hartley, Bain, and Mill to be later absorbed into behaviorism through pioneering animal psychologists (Morgan and Thorndike). This tradition conceived of habits atomistically and as automatisms (a conception later debunked by cognitivism). Another historical trend we have called organicism inherits the legacy of Aristotle and develops along German idealism, French spiritualism, pragmatism, and phenomenology. It feeds into the work of continental psychologists in the early 20th century, influencing important figures such as Merleau-Ponty, Piaget, and Gibson. But it has not yet been taken up by mainstream cognitive neuroscience and psychology. Habits, in this tradition, are seen as ecological, self-organizing structures that relate to a web of predispositions and plastic dependencies both in the agent and in the environment. In addition, they are not conceptualized in opposition to rational, volitional processes, but as transversing a continuum from reflective to embodied intentionality. These are properties that make habit a particularly attractive idea for embodied, enactive perspectives, which can now re-evaluate it in light of dynamical systems theory and complexity research.
For the last couple of weeks I have been involved in a fascinating project: to help Ecuador design a new productive matrix based on an open and commons knoledge society. No researcher in the world can respond to this challenge on her own, so I (we) have decided to offer a participatory research process that could potentially meet the challenge. Below you can download what we call “the mother document” where we detail (in Spanish) the theoretical and political framework of the process, its diferent stages and the design of the collaborative research and production architecture. Donwload mother document.
Dentro del encuentro HD15M del grupo de investigación DatAnalysis, he dado una charla titulada “Data-analogy: modelización sistémica del 15M como desorden de identidad disociativo” en el que intento establecer un espacio analógico entre los datos generados por el 15M en la red (nalizados por el colectivo DatAnalysis) y los datos y modelos de neurodinámica de la consciencia. La hipótesis más arriesgada (pero espero que sugerente) es que el 15M, dentro de la totalidad psícosocial del estado español, emerge como una identidad disociativa. Esta hipótesis permite ensamblar datos en el espacio analógico de la neurodinámica para aclarar fenómenos como: a) las manifestaciones “conscientes” del 15M, b) la profundidad emocional del 15M, c) la topología estructural, funcional y efectiva del 15M en analogía con el connectome y las redes funcionales de imaginería neuronal, etc.
It’s been a while since we started this paper and it is nice to see it published. Bruno Santos did an amazing work analysing the phase relation dynamics of coupled oscillators in a simulated robot. This paper explores the role of synchronized and desynchronized dynamics for the production of coherent or functional sensorimotor patterns. Whereas most of neuroscience studies focus on synchrony as the mark of cognitive operations in the brain, this paper provides analytic and experimental tools to challenge this assumption and to systematically (or causally) relate oscillatory (neuro)dynamics with sensorimotor dynamics.
Again, the result of another fascinating collaboration with Matthew Egbert and Ezequiel Di Paolo: what would happen if early protocells had some capacity to move? We hypothesize that early metabolic evolution might have been bootstrapped throw behaviour generating a phenomenon we have called behavioural metabolution: the push-me pull-you positive feedback effect between behavioural selection of chemical environments and the evolution of metabolic networks that in turn influence behaviour that in turn selects chemical environments. Much more on the paper, download and read it!
Just finished developing the new site for IAS-Research Centre for Life, Mind, and Society. I hope it will be really useful to improve visibility, dissemination and internal coordination of research activity. We used WordPress as a platform with lots of very useful plugins that help generate publication lists, event’s calendars, etc. Thanks to Thomas Buhrmann for his valuable contributions to the site and GISA for the deep server infrastructure.
Together with Ezequiel Di Paolo I presented this poster at ESCOP2011, we present some old and new preliminary results on evolutionary robotics to ground a richer notion of habit than the one currently used in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Click on the image below to download a PDF version of the poster.
My talk started by assuming the real challenge of systematicity for dynamical approaches. The work of René Thom and Jean Petitot on morphodynamics and cognitive grammars serves as a powerful framework to solve this problem. In the second part of the talk I defend a contemporary re-appraisal of the notion of habit within the Piagetian framework, with illustrations from evolutionary robotics. You can download the pdf of the slides bellow: