Embodied Pleiotropy and Cognition

Pleitropy is an interesting concept: How a single gene/mutation has distributed effects in the organism.

Difficult to conceive of the complexity of evolution that would ensure organism fitness through single mutations.

Illustrates how single genes are responsible for networks of functioning. Isolating a single gene function presents difficulties.

Genes operate within a symphony of interdependent networks.

Changes in genes impact not only the distributed network of processes it expresses, but concurrent networks within the organism, which in turn effect the functioning of that genes effects.

Genes are embodied.

You can imagine the parallels to embodied cognition, and the concurrent distributed network of cognitive processes that give rise to emergent conscious phenomena.

I think a central takeaway of embodied cognition is that the phenomenal “self” can be reduced to ego. And ego is an adaptive survival mechanism. But self/ego doesn’t actually exist. It’s just a reflexive process that accumulates through habituation, habits which we identify as self .

Cognitive theories struggle to account for the mechanism of sentience because they haven’t accounted for the mechanism of ego, the very mechanism which allows the cognition to adapt to novelty and change and persist, which follows a path dependency because of habituated cognitive processes.

Reflexive in the sense that the organism and world are not separate entities, but interdependent, working on each other. When the organism changes, the life world changes, when the life world changes, the organism changes. The external world is not pregiven, and cannot be represented as an accurate ideal of what is, because the organism essentially defines the world.

This, along with the fact that the reflexive relationship between the organism and world is actually comprised by not one “conscious process”, but regulated by distributed layers of concurrent networks possessing this reflexive embodied relationship with the life world.

You can conceive of these networks as individual communities of builders or societies of agents working amongst themselves and/or with other communities of builders. It is an ecology or economy of builders. They do not exist independently, but they do not exist as one whole.

The process of developing cognitive structures is as fundamental as the cognitive structures themselves, because there is an inter-action among them and with the life world of lived experience as they develop and evolve.

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