Context: From the perspective of mainstream immunology, immune activity is presented as cognitive and anticipatory in the sense that vaccines condition the organism for more effective specific immunity. This perspective works with terms alluding to cognition and portrays the immune system in a defensive, militaristic way. Problem: Almost all attempts to invent new vaccines fail. Something seems to be conceptually mistaken. This and other cases call for a change of view in the experiential scope of immunology, and, by changing this, the view of the organism is changed. I describe immune phenomena as biological, observer-dependent phenomena. Method: Maturana explicitly included the observer in descriptions and stated that we do not have access to an objective reality, as we explain our experiences in terms of the coherence of our experiences. I apply these notions to immunology and claim that the immune system is not passively moved by antigenic contacts, nor does it live in its own interiority, where anything is possible. Between these two pitfalls we discuss anti-infectious immunity and the specific nature of immunological phenomena. In particular we expose pitfalls in the current languaging used to think about immunological phenomena. Results: In mainstream science, immunoglobulins are seen as biochemical reagents produced by the body in its own defense. This amounts to a cognitive proposition. I map this cognitive stance to the actions of the immunologist’s observations, that is, the specificity of antibodies belongs to the eye of the beholder, the expectations of the immunologist operating as an observer in human language. Implications: Immunoglobulins and antibodies are different entities: as components of the vertebrate organism, immunoglobulins emerged in natural phylogenetic drift hundreds of millions of years ago, while antibodies were invented by immunologists in the 1890s as identifying labels pasted on immune sera. By keeping an eye on what we do as observers in describing the immune system, we move away from focusing on specific immune responses and come to appreciate the conservative aspect of the immune system’s dynamics and its operational congruence with the organism of which it is a component subsystem. In doing so, the main focus of attention shifts to what we do as observers operating in human language.
Wolfgang Wagner is a current and productive advocate of the social representation approach. He developed a version of the theory in which social representations are freed from individual minds and instead conceived of as concerted interactions. These epistemological starting points come very close to the enactive outlook on consensually coordinated actions. Yet Wagner is not radical enough in that he continues to see concerted interaction as an expression of representations that are already shared by the actors constituting a group. In our view, the ubiquitous notion of sharedness – which is also found in studies on social models, cultural patterns, schemas, scenarios, and so forth – is conceptually problematic and reveals a misapprehension of how orchestrated actions come about. Moreover, it obscures a proper understanding of what really constitutes intrinsically social behavior. Enactivism provides a much more consistent epistemology for a psychology that is intrinsically social.
Vernon D., Lowe R., Thill S. & Zieme T. (2015) Embodied cognition and circular causality: On the role of constitutive autonomy in the reciprocal coupling of perception and action. Frontiers in Psychology 6: 1660. https://cepa.info/2523
The reciprocal coupling of perception and action in cognitive agents has been firmly established: perceptions guide action but so too do actions influence what is perceived. While much has been said on the implications of this for the agent’s external behavior, less attention has been paid to what it means for the internal bodily mechanisms which underpin cognitive behavior. In this article, we wish to redress this by reasserting that the relationship between cognition, perception, and action involves a constitutive element as well as a behavioral element, emphasizing that the reciprocal link between perception and action in cognition merits a renewed focus on the system dynamics inherent in constitutive biological autonomy. Our argument centers on the idea that cognition, perception, and action are all dependent on processes focussed primarily on the maintenance of the agent’s autonomy. These processes have an inherently circular nature – self-organizing, self-producing, and self-maintaining – and our goal is to explore these processes and suggest how they can explain the reciprocity of perception and action. Specifically, we argue that the reciprocal coupling is founded primarily on their endogenous roles in the constitutive autonomy of the agent and an associated circular causality of global and local processes of self-regulation, rather than being a mutual sensory-motor contingency that derives from exogenous behavior. Furthermore, the coupling occurs first and foremost via the internal milieu realized by the agent’s organismic embodiment. Finally, we consider how homeostasis and the related concept of allostasis contribute to this circular self-regulation.
Vinnakota T. R., Kadri F. L., Grant S., Malinova L., Tuddenham P. D. & Garcia S. (2014) Multiple perspectives on the terms “cyberneticist” versus “cybernetician”. Kybernetes 43(9/10): 1425–1434.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate and clarify possible distinctions between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician” with the intention of helping the growth of the cybernetics discipline in new directions. Design/methodology/approach – After the American Society for Cybernetics ALU 2013 conference in Bolton, a small group of conference participants continued the conversations they had begun during the event, focusing on the comparison of the terms “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician.” The group felt the need for clearer distinctions drawn (or designed) between the terms, in order to sustain the discipline of cybernetics and to support its growth. The aim of providing these distinctions is that theory should feed into practice and practice should feed into theory, forming a cybernetic loop, so that the discipline of cybernetics is sustained while growing. The conference participants had conversations between themselves, and came up with multiple perspectives on the distinction between “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician.” The distinctions drawn mirror the distinctions between Science and Design: the science of cybernetics contrasted with the design of cybernetics. Findings: The findings of this paper consist of recommendations to understand and act differently in the field of the discipline of cybernetics. In particular, a clear distinction is suggested between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician.” It is also suggested that in order for cybernetics to grow and be sustained, there should be a constant flow of developments in theory of cybernetics into the practice of cybernetics and vice-versa. Originality/value – The authors believe that some people (called “cyberneticists”) should work on the science side of cybernetics, making strong contributions to the understanding and development of cybernetics theory. Others, (called “cyberneticians”) should work on the design side of cybernetics, to contribute through their actions and through the development of cybernetics practice. The result of this will be a self-organization that evolves naturally between theory and practice of cybernetics, leading to better learning of cybernetics, and in the process, sustaining it through continued growth. In this direction, the paper proposes several radical suggestions that may not be to the liking of traditionalists, but may be better received by the scientists and designers of cybernetics who can make a difference to the growth of the discipline of cybernetics.
Vollmar B. H. (2013) Economic Theory: A Field for the Application of Non-dualist Thought? A Clarification of Potential Epistemic Benefits. Constructivist Foundations 8(2): 216–226. https://constructivist.info/8/2/216
Context: Due to its grounding in a simplistic core model, mainstream theoretical work in economics is heavily conditioned by a realist epistemic framework that may be viewed as the “paradogma” – sensu Mitterer – of economics. Problem: The contribution delineates theoretical developments on the basis of a realist epistemology and their problem-laden consequences for the economic sciences. The subsequent critical discussion seeks to clarify whether economic theory formation is a suitable field for the application of Mitterer’s non-dualist ideas. Method: In the context of a review of their historical background, the paper will explore the possibilities and limits of an application of Mitterer’s non-dualist argumentation to the economic sciences, and present a diagnosis of compatibility and a characterisation of necessary steps towards amplification. Results: It can be shown that the economic sciences would gain in expert knowledge and applicability by adopting the alternative of non-dualism, whose potential has been little appreciated so far. The solution to the meta-scientific problems caused by the pre-structuring of economics in terms of a realist epistemology seems at hand. To take up this new meta-scientific perspective, however, theoretical progress in both non-dualism and economics is required, particularly by paying more serious attention to the theoretical component of communication. Implications: Non-dualism can certainly be utilised by the economic sciences to induce radical innovations and conceptional revisions involving higher meta-scientific consistency. In future, pragmatic gaps will increasingly have to be filled conceptually in order to develop more highly-reflected economic theory formation and corresponding scientific practice. Hence the main idea is that economic actions are inevitably, but not exclusively, based on communication. Constructivist content: Theoretical approaches embracing epistemic relativism in the economic sciences will be properly assessed and developed further along the lines of a non-dualist conceptual revision on the basis of an ontology-free understanding of reality.
We often consciously will our own actions. This experience is so profound that it tempts us to believe that our actions are caused by consciousness. It could also be a trick, however – the mind’s way of estimating its own apparent authorship by drawing causal inferences about relationships between thoughts and actions. Cognitive, social, and neuropsychological studies of apparent mental causation suggest that experiences of conscious will frequently depart from actual causal processes and so might not reﬂect direct perceptions of conscious thought causing action.
Winograd T. & Flores F. (1987) Language, listening, and commitment. Chapter 5 in: Understanding computers and cognition: A new foundation for design. Addison-Wesley, Reading MA: 54–69. https://cepa.info/5790
Excerpt: In this chapter we show how ‘language as action’ and ‘language as interpretation’ can be reconciled. In doing this we will move back and forth between two fundamental questions: “How does an utterance have meaning?” and “What kinds of actions do we perform in language?” The juxtaposition of these questions leads us to a new grounding for our understanding of language and the nature of human existence as language.