Michael Wheeler

Michael Wheeler is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Stirling. He is the author of Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step (MIT Press, 2005).

  • The Mechanical Mind in History

    The Mechanical Mind in History

    Phil Husbands, Owen Holland, and Michael Wheeler

    Scientists, artists, historians, and philosophers trace the evolution of the idea of intelligent machines, reflecting on the multidisciplinary quest to explain mind scientifically as a wholly mechanical process.

    The idea of intelligent machines has become part of popular culture. But tracing the history of the actual science of machine intelligence reveals a rich network of cross-disciplinary contributions—the unrecognized origins of ideas now central to artificial intelligence, artificial life, cognitive science, and neuroscience. In The Mechanical Mind in History, scientists, artists, historians, and philosophers discuss the multidisciplinary quest to formalize and understand the generation of intelligent behavior in natural and artificial systems as a wholly mechanical process. The contributions illustrate the diverse and interacting notions that chart the evolution of the idea of the mechanical mind. They describe the mechanized mind as, among other things, an analogue system, an organized suite of chemical interactions, a self-organizing electromechanical device, an automated general-purpose information processor, and an integrated collection of symbol manipulating mechanisms. They investigate the views of pivotal figures that range from Descartes and Heidegger to Alan Turing and Charles Babbage, and they emphasize such frequently overlooked areas as British cybernetic and pre-cybernetic thinkers. The volume concludes with the personal insights of five highly influential figures in the field: John Maynard Smith, John Holland, Oliver Selfridge, Horace Barlow, and Jack Cowan.

    Contributors Peter Asaro, Horace Barlow, Andy Beckett, Margaret Boden, Jon Bird, Paul Brown, Seth Bullock, Roberto Cordeschi, Jack Cowan, Ezequiel Di Paolo, Hubert Dreyfus, Andrew Hodges, Owen Holland, Jana Horáková, Philip Husbands, Jozef Kelemen, John Maynard Smith, Donald Michie, Oliver Selfridge, Michael Wheeler

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99
  • Reconstructing the Cognitive World

    Reconstructing the Cognitive World

    The Next Step

    Michael Wheeler

    In Reconstructing the Cognitive World, Michael Wheeler argues that we should turn away from the generically Cartesian philosophical foundations of much contemporary cognitive science research and proposes instead a Heideggerian approach. Wheeler begins with an interpretation of Descartes. He defines Cartesian psychology as a conceptual framework of explanatory principles and shows how each of these principles is part of the deep assumptions of orthodox cognitive science (both classical and connectionist). Wheeler then turns to Heidegger's radically non-Cartesian account of everyday cognition, which, he argues, can be used to articulate the philosophical foundations of a genuinely non-Cartesian cognitive science. Finding that Heidegger's critique of Cartesian thinking falls short, even when supported by Hubert Dreyfus's influential critique of orthodox artificial intelligence, Wheeler suggests a new Heideggerian approach. He points to recent research in "embodied-embedded" cognitive science and proposes a Heideggerian framework to identify, amplify, and clarify the underlying philosophical foundations of this new work. He focuses much of his investigation on recent work in artificial intelligence-oriented robotics, discussing, among other topics, the nature and status of representational explanation, and whether (and to what extent) cognition is computation rather than a noncomputational phenomenon best described in the language of dynamical systems theory.

    Wheeler's argument draws on analytic philosophy, continental philosophy, and empirical work to "reconstruct" the philosophical foundations of cognitive science in a time of a fundamental shift away from a generically Cartesian approach. His analysis demonstrates that Heideggerian continental philosophy and naturalistic cognitive science need not be mutually exclusive and shows further that a Heideggerian framework can act as the "conceptual glue" for new work in cognitive science.

    • Hardcover $35.00 £28.00
    • Paperback $35.00 £28.00

Contributor

  • The Hand, an Organ of the Mind

    The Hand, an Organ of the Mind

    What the Manual Tells the Mental

    Zdravko Radman

    Theoretical and empirical accounts of the interconnectedness between the manual and the mental suggest that the hand can be understood as a cognitive instrument.

    Cartesian-inspired dualism enforces a theoretical distinction between the motor and the cognitive and locates the mental exclusively in the head. This collection, focusing on the hand, challenges this dichotomy, offering theoretical and empirical perspectives on the interconnectedness and interdependence of the manual and mental. The contributors explore the possibility that the hand, far from being the merely mechanical executor of preconceived mental plans, possesses its own know-how, enabling "enhanded" beings to navigate the natural, social, and cultural world without engaging propositional thought, consciousness, and deliberation.

    The contributors consider not only broad philosophical questions—ranging from the nature of embodiment, enaction, and the extended mind to the phenomenology of agency—but also such specific issues as touching, grasping, gesturing, sociality, and simulation. They show that the capacities of the hand include perception (on its own and in association with other modalities), action, (extended) cognition, social interaction, and communication. Taken together, their accounts offer a handbook of cutting-edge research exploring the ways that the manual shapes and reshapes the mental and creates conditions for embodied agents to act in the world.

    Contributors Matteo Baccarini, Andrew J. Bremner, Massimiliano L. Cappuccio, Andy Clark, Jonathan Cole, Dorothy Cowie, Natalie Depraz, Rosalyn Driscoll, Harry Farmer, Shaun Gallagher, Nicholas P. Holmes, Daniel D. Hutto, Angelo Maravita, Filip Mattens, Richard Menary, Jesse J. Prinz, Zdravko Radman, Matthew Ratcliffe, Etiennne B. Roesch, Stephen V. Shepherd, Susan A.J. Stuart, Manos Tsakiris, Michael Wheeler

    • Hardcover $55.00 £45.00
  • The Extended Mind

    The Extended Mind

    Richard Menary

    Leading scholars respond to the famous proposition by Andy Clark and David Chalmers that cognition and mind are not located exclusively in the head.

    Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? In their famous 1998 paper "The Extended Mind," philosophers Andy Clark and David J. Chalmers posed this question and answered it provocatively: cognitive processes "ain't all in the head." The environment has an active role in driving cognition; cognition is sometimes made up of neural, bodily, and environmental processes. Their argument excited a vigorous debate among philosophers, both supporters and detractors. This volume brings together for the first time the best responses to Clark and Chalmers's bold proposal. These responses, together with the original paper by Clark and Chalmers, offer a valuable overview of the latest research on the extended mind thesis.

    The contributors first discuss (and answer) objections raised to Clark and Chalmers's thesis. Clark himself responds to critics in an essay that uses the movie Memento's amnesia-aiding notes and tattoos to illustrate the workings of the extended mind. Contributors then consider the different directions in which the extended mind project might be taken, including the need for an approach that focuses on cognitive activity and practice.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00