On the origin of mental representations

Beni M.

BIOSYSTEMS, vol.184, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 184
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2019.103995
  • Journal Name: BIOSYSTEMS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: Symbol grounding problem, Mental representations, Cognitive sciences, Philosophy of mind, Artificial intelligence, Biosemiotics, Code biology, SYMBOL, COMPUTATION
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


The symbol grounding problem raises its head in the fields of the philosophy of AI, philosophy of psychology and philosophy of cognitive sciences. The solution to the symbol grounding problem must account for the genesis of mental representations in the world. It has to offer a strategy for grounding mental representations in the objective domain. Orthodox representationalist theories do not provide a satisfactory reply to the symbol grounding problem. On the other hand, there are embodied-enactivist approaches that dissolve the problem but only at the cost of representations and internal phenomenal states. The code model of biosemiotics provides a biologically viable (i.e., mechanistic) venue for developing a new solution to the problem. For the same reason, it could reconcile representationalism to the embodied approach.