Cartesian Robotics

In “Cartesian Robotics,” now available in Representations 124, David Bates looks at Descartes’s physiological theory,¬†and especially his theorization of the nerves and the brain as an information-processing system, in order to offer a new interpretation of cognition within his philosophy. Rather than opposing mind and body, Descartes showed how the operations of the soul interrupted the automatic cognitive processes of the body to provide adaptive flexibility for the human organism as a whole. Bates is Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley, where he teaches intellectual history.