By Gordon Foxall PhD
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Extra resources for Context and Cognition: Interpreting Complex Behavior
The task now becomes that of ascribing content to the internal states and events.
The brain cannot use physical tests to sort its inputs. (p. 48) Therefore, the only remaining hypothesis is that it does so by chance: “if such fortuitous linkages could in some way be generated, recognized and preserved by the brain, the organism could acquire a capacity for generally appropriate behavior”. The sorting of physical structures must be done by an analogue of natural selection, though this cannot operate via a principle of physical fitness. What Dennett calls an excursion into elementary hypothetical evolutionary history helps.
By this time, when the “cognitive revolution” was well under way, it was clear that human behavior could not be comprehensively accounted for in terms of the contingency-shaping that provided a plausible explanation of the behavior of infrahumans at least in the laboratory. Some human behavior undoubtedly is explicable in such terms but the vast majority of its instances are rendered 32 Chapter 2 intelligible in operant terms only if they are portrayed as rule-governed, that is subject to the verbal stimuli provided by the actor and, especially, by others in the form of rules, advice, instructions, admonitions, and so on.