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Environmental Complexity and the Evolution of Cognition

Environmental Complexity and the Evolution of Cognition,Peter Godfrey-Smith

Environmental Complexity and the Evolution of Cognition   (Citations: 14)
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One problem faced in discussions of the evolution of intelligence is the need to get a precise fix on what is to be explained. Terms like "intelligence," "cognition" and "mind" do not have simple and agreed-upon meanings, and the differences between conceptions of intelligence have consequences for evolutionary explanation. I hope the papers in this volume will enable us to make progress on this problem. The present contribution is mostly focused on these basic and foundational issues, although the last section of the paper will look at some specific models and programs of empirical work. Some people have a very demanding picture of what is required for intelligence, thinking that it always involves such sophisticated skills as planning, language-use, and perhaps even some sort of consciousness. To these people, intelligence is to be contrasted with instinct. Perhaps in this rich sense of the term, intelligence is even to be contrasted with the simpler types of learning, such as learning through reinforcement (operant conditioning). From this first point of view, the problem of explaining the evolution of intelligence is explaining why instinct and other simple behavioral capacities were not enough; why evolutionary processes took a few organisms so far beyond these basic behavioral skills.
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    • ...The hypothesis presented in section 2 is closely related to what Godfrey-Smith calls the environmental complexity thesis [20][21][22]...

    S. F. Arnold. Neuro-cognitive organization as a side-effect of the evolution of lear...

    • ...As a result, such behaviors are not considered to be very interesting from a cognitive perspective, and only require closer attention when they approach human forms of intelligence (see also Godfrey-Smith 1996, 2001; Shettleworth 1998)...
    • ...Godfrey-Smith (2001, p 234) argued that cognition initially evolved to enable organisms to control their own behavior, allowing them to cope with environmental complexity...

    Paco Calvo Garzónet al. Cognition in Plants

    • ...How did such systems evolve? The primary function of cognitive systems is to enable adaptation; so one would assume that complex environments will provide the best setting for their evolution: this is the environmental complexity thesis advanced by Peter Godfrey-Smith (Godfrey-Smith, 1996, 2002a,b)...

    Rory Smead. Social Interaction and the Invasion of Adaptive Strategies

    • ...Hence, this ecological approach aims at understanding cognitive systems in terms of their environmental situatedness (cf. Clancey [12] and Magnani [13])...
    • ...These ontogenetic mechanisms are therefore a sort of on-board system allowing flexibility and plasticity of response to an ever-changing environment, which are at the core of the notion of cognition that is at the basis of our treatment [27] 4 ...
    • ...[26,27]). The psychoanalyst Carl Gust Jung, who is aware that also animals make artifacts, nicely acknowledges their cognitive role proposing the expression “natural culture”: “When the beaver fells trees and dams up a river, this is a performance conditioned by its differentiation...
    • ...Epigenetic openness is closely related to what Godfrey-Smith [27] called phenotypic plasticity; the flexible response of living organisms (humans in particular) leans on sensitivity to environment clues, and this process of attunement to relevant aspects of the environment cannot be separated from niche construction...

    Lorenzo Magnaniet al. Sharing Representations and Creating Chances through Cognitive Niche C...

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