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Fitness as Default: the evolutionary basis of cognitive complexity reduction

Heylighen, Francis (1994) Fitness as Default: the evolutionary basis of cognitive complexity reduction. [Book Chapter]

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Abstract

Given that knowledge consists of finite models of an infinitely complex reality, how can we explain that it is still most of the time reliable? Survival in a variable environment requires an internal model whose complexity (variety) matches the complexity of the environment that is to be controlled. The reduction of the infinite complexity of the sensed environment to a finite map requires a strong mechanism of categorization. A measure of cognitive complexity (C) is defined, which quantifies the average amount of trial-and-error needed to find the adequate category. C can be minimized by "probability ordering" of the possible categories, where the most probable alternatives ("defaults") are explored first. The reduction of complexity by such ordering requires a low statistical entropy for the cognized environment. This entropy is automatically kept down by the natural selection of "fit" configurations. The high probability, "default" cognitive categorizations are then merely mappings of environmentally "fit" configurations.

Item Type:Book Chapter
Keywords:fitness, default reasoning, requisite variety, decision-making, complexity, entropy, categorization, evolutionary epistemology, trial-and-error, cognitive complexity, natural selection, probability ordering
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
Philosophy > Decision Theory
Philosophy > Epistemology
ID Code:314
Deposited By:Heylighen, Francis
Deposited On:15 Jun 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:53

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