versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027
LOPEZ ALONSO, Alfredo Oscar y MINERVINO, Ricardo. The need for an ecological approach within the study and comprehension of cognitive processes. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2007, vol.24, n.2, pp. 229-237. ISSN 1668-7027.
Cognitive processes are information, meaning, structure organization and transformation processes, most of which are inferential. Then, an important question about cognitive processes is: What is their deepest basis? Where, when, how and at what level do they originate? Here, it is proposed that the original and deepest basis of cognitive processes is essentially ecological and sustained on the permanent unity and relationship between the living organism and its environment. We understand as ecological the undecomposable union between a living organism and its environment, as well as every kind of immediate and stepwise relationship between them. The relationships between a living organism and its environment is held everyday and continuously in order to get its life-preserving resources and to adopt their adequate, best or most successful actions and reactions over the environment, as well as to reach its necessary internal and external balances with and within it. In these terms, the elementary perception and categorization are seen as basic cognitive processes originated in that permanent and whole ecological relationship. This way, representation systems and information processes as developed by each species are seen as basic preservation functions (life-preservation functions) in the teleonomic sense given by Pittendrigh (1958) and later used by Lorenz (1986) within his ethological approach. These arguments support the idea that any species, whatever simpler or complex it may be, whenever it is endowed of minimal sensors (elementary sensory perceptive receptors) for light (sight), odor (olfaction), sound (hearing), taste and tactile stimuli, etc., can form and must have a minimal representation of its immediate surroundings; and so that those living organisms can then count on or have at their own's disposal a minimal mental representation of the immediate and customary environment in which they live and survive along all their lifetime. Otherwise these living organisms will soon and easily die, and its species will be exposed to be extinguished soon too. So, all these argumentations are required and provided in order to analyze and explain the origin of cognitive processes within an ecological bottom-up direction. The main approaches adopted to sustain this ecological view originate in Gibson's (1979) studies on direct perception, in Rosch's (1978) approaches to natural and prototypical categorization of concept-formation, and, finally, it is also found in different attempts by Schank and Abelson (1977) and other authors to describe, for example, the formation of semantic primitives, or of schemata and scripts on alternative and ever changing areas of commonplace social experience and representations. One cue is to easily differentiate between the role and definition between defined attributes and characteristic or prototypical attributes when referring to concepts and their schemes or networks of relationships. There may be many others authors and examples that could be given to prove this ecological approach, however the above mentioned seemed to us prototypical and sufficient as to be especially included and treated.
Palabras clave : Ecological Epistemology; Ecological approach; Cognitive processes; Social representations.