Publication 2945

Wheeler M. (1995) Escaping from the Cartesian mind-set: Heidegger and artificial life. In: Morán F., Moreno A. J., Merelo J. & Chacon P. (eds.) Advances in artificial life. Springer, Berlin: 65–76. Fulltext at
In this paper, I propose a neo-Heideggerian framework for A-Life. Following an explanation of some key Heideggerian ideas, I endorse the view that persistent problems in orthodox cognitive science result from a commitment to a Cartesian subject-object divide. Heidegger rejects the primacy of the subject-object dichotomy; and I set about the task of showing how, by adopting a Heideggerian view, A-Life can avoid the problems that have plagued cognitive science. This requires that we extend the standard Heideggerian frame-work by introducing the notion of a biological background, a set of evolutionarily determined practices which structure the norms of animal worlds. I argue that optimality/ESS models in behavioural ecology provide a set of tools for identifying these norms, and, to secure this idea, I defend a form of adaptationism against enactivist worries. Finally, I show how A-Life can assist in the process of mapping out biological backgrounds, and how recent dynamical systems approaches in A-Life fit in with the neo-Heideggerian conceptual framework.

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