Theories in cognitive science, and especially cognitive neuroscience, often claim that parts of cognitive systems are reused for different cognitive functions. Philosophical analysis of this concept, however, is rare. Here, I first provide a set of criteria for an analysis of reuse, and then I analyze reuse in terms of the functions of subsystems. I also discuss how cognitive systems execute cognitive functions, the relation between learning and reuse, and how to differentiate reuse from related concepts like multi-use, redundancy, and duplication of parts. Finally, I illustrate how my account captures the reuse of dynamical subsystems as unveiled by recent research in cognitive neurobiology. This recent research suggests two different evolutionary justifications for reuse claims.
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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