Álvarez-Vázquez J. Y. (2016) Animated machines, organic souls: Maturana and Aristotle on the nature of life. International Journal of Novel Research in Humanity and Social Sciences 3(1): 67–78. https://cepa.info/7842
The emergence of mind is a central issue in cognitive philosophy. The main working assumption of the present paper is that several important insights in answering this question might be provided by the nature of life itself. It is in this line of thinking that this paper compares two major philosophical conceptualizations of the living in the history of theoretical biology, namely those of Maturana and Aristotle. The present paper shows how both thinkers describe the most fundamental properties of the living as autonomous sustenance. The paper also shows how these theoretical insights might have a consequence upon our understanding of a specific constructiveness of human cognition, here referred to as enarrativity, if this can be considered in a structural as well as evolutionary connection with the structure of life as such. The paper finally suggests that the structural connection made here can be traced from the fundamental organization of self-preservation to survival behaviors to constructive orientation and action.
Niklas Luhmann is not exactly known for his thinking about a possible change of the society due to the introduction of the computer. His society is the modern society, based on the overall importance of the communication medium of the printing press. Yet, his double volume book on Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft is so rich in remarks about the possible influence of the introduction of the computer on the society, equal only to the introduction of, first, writing and, then, the printing press, that one might be tempted to consider this book his way to bid farewell to the modern culture of the society based on the printing press. Let us look at what modern society has achieved relying on a notion of order stemming, with only slight exaggeration, from the library, and then let us try to watch how this very same society has to find equally wide-ranging solutions to a society relying, for a dominant part of its communication, on an order adapted to the computing machine, or so he seems to tell us. This paper looks at Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft in terms of a theory of the emerging computer culture of a society we cannot any more call the modern one. And it proposes to call for a competition to complete one of the most speculative chapters of this book in which Luhmann attributes the central cultural notion, or theory form, of the literal society, telos, to Aristotle, of the printing press society, self-referential restlessness, to Descartes, and leaves the slot open for the one possibly defining the culture of the computer society, which is the theory form of the form.
Baecker D. (2013) Aristotle and George Spencer-Brown. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 20(3–4): 9–30. https://cepa.info/3310
The paper deals with Aristotelian logic as the special case of more general epistemology and sociology of both science and common sense. The Aristotelian principles of identity, of noncontradiction, and of excluded middle are to be supplemented by the secondorder cybernetic, or cybernEthic principles of paradox, of ambivalence, and of control. In this paper we collect some ideas on how to evaluate the scope of Aristotelian logic with respect to the laws of thought they tried to determine and to do so within the historical moment of the impact of the invention of writing possibly triggering this determination. We look at some modern doubts concerning these laws and discovering an understanding of complexity that is not to be resumed under any principle of identity. The invention of sociology, epistemology, and the mathematics of communication follow suit in focusing not only on the observer but more importantly on the distinction between observers to further contextualize any talk of identities and operationalize both talk and fact of contradiction, paradox, and ambivalence.
This paper takes as a datum that autopoiesis theory broadly conceived as a scientific doctrine can legitimately be viewed as a modern day rediscovery of Aristotle. This is argued for elsewhere. What is argued is that Maturanian organisation as it is currently conceived has serious deficiencies which threaten to compromise and undermine the role Maturana assigns it. The specific thesis it advances is that Maturanian organisation can be rescued from this dilemma if it is rethought as Aristotelian form.
Dougall C. (2000) Reconstructing Maturana: Metaphysics and method. Kybernetes 29(4): 491–498. https://cepa.info/3088
Considers some of the puzzles and inconsistencies associated with Maturana’s metaphysics. We argue that such puzzles and inconsistencies largely arise out of difficulties of method and that the clue to their resolution is to be found in Aristotle’s solution to the same problem. Maturana’s claims are reconstructed in this light and in a way which does not materially affect their underlying theoretical grounds, i.e. autopoiesis theory, and dissolves the puzzles and inconsistencies referred to.
Excerpt: The enactive view of human cognition starts with the idea that we are action oriented. Our ability to make sense of the world comes from an active and pragmatic engagement with the world, along with our capacities to interact with other people. In this regard, Anaxagoras’s observation that we humans are the wisest of all beings because we have hands better reflects an enactive view than Aristotle’s claim that “ Man has hands because he is the wisest of all beings.” In the Aristotelian tradition, the hand is raised to the level of the rational by considering it the organum organorum. More generally, in the history of philosophy, hands are inserted here and there to provide a firm grasp on some important philosophical notions. Thus, a statement attributed to Isaac Newton suggests that the thumb is good evidence of God’s existence, and Immanuel Kant used his hands (the fact that hands are incongruent counterparts, e.g., a left hand doesn’t fit properly into a right-hand glove) to prove that Newton was right about space being absolute. But this is not the main line drawn by the philosophical traditions. With respect to rationality, the eyes have it more than the hands. Both philosophically and scientifically, vision dominates.
Glanville R. (2014) Acting to understand and understanding to act. Kybernetes 43(9/10): 1293–1300. https://cepa.info/3905
Purpose: To establish the essential centrality of a circular relationship between acting and understanding, and a role learning plays in this circularity, with special reference to Aristotle’s phronesis and sophia. The purpose of this paper is to establish a position. Design/methodology/approach – The argument is made through critical, cybernetic analysis and argument. Findings: The argument reconceptualises key relationships in the approach to understanding the world, and in education. Research limitations/implications – Research implications are not explored: the argument attempts to lay groundwork for other and later work. Originality/value – The argument establishes a cybernetic circular causality to replace the currently preferred linear causality.
Excerpt: The occasionally authoritative gestures of Niklas Luhmann’s writing may intimidate those who do not also perceive his gentle touches of irony. He seems to enjoy presenting obscure authors and counterintuitive arguments with so radical a lack of introductory scaffolding that readers may feel guilty about their own astonishment – and may, out of this feeling of guilt, begin to consume books and subscribe to arguments whose pertinence (or lack thereof) they are far from understanding. Although Luhmann is probably not its author, the short thematic presentation on the cover of Probleme der Form, a collection of essays dedicated to the fascination, in systems theory, 1 with the work of the British mathematician George Spencer Brown, is a good example of this production of authority by lack of insistence: “Von der Form der Unterscheidung zu sprechen, wie G. Spencer Brown es vorschlägt, löst den Formbegriff aus seinen Gegenüberstellungen zu Materie, Substanz 2 oder Inhalt. Er wird damit frei für einen Kalkül von Bezeichnungen, die in Abhängigkeit von Unterscheidungen getroffen werden und sich auf die Einschluß- und Ausschlußoperationen von Unterscheidungen hin beobachten lassen. Daraus läßt sich eine Theorie der einseitigen Verwendung von Zwei-Seiten-Formen gewinnen [.… ].” 3 It is perhaps of some anecdotal interest to mention here that such emphasis on discussing the form-concept as detached from notions of “matter” and “substance” (which had been coupled to it ever since Aristotle) resonates with a structurally similar remark in the entry “Form” from the fifth volume of the New Catholic Encyclopedia, published in 1967, during the heyday of Western neomarxism: “In recent philosophy the term form rarely occurs and the issues concerning the relationships between form and matter are no longer argued, the term matter being generally used without reference to form.”
Herrera Pérez C. & Ziemke T. (2007) Aristotle, autonomy and the explanation of behaviour. Pragmatics & Cognition 15(3): 547–571. https://cepa.info/6857
This paper examines Aristotle’s notion of autonomy and its implication for the mechanicism/autonomy debate. We introduce the basic principles of Aristotle’s scientific framework, including his theory of four causes for the explanation of nature. We draw parallels between these notions of autonomy and causation and autopoietic theory, dynamical systems and robotics, suggesting that they may be compatible with Aristotle’s framework. We argue that understanding the problem of design of autonomous robots may benefit from the consideration of integration of Aristotle’s causes, while robotics, in turn, may contribute to the debate providing a common ground for epistemological and ontological notions of autonomy.
Context: Maturana’s work is not easy to follow. Correct and full understanding of his work has still to be achieved in spite of its importance. Problem: The objective of this paper is to investigate the core logic penetrating Maturana’s wide-ranging work and to place his work in the history of western thought. Method: Through intensive reading of his wide-ranging work, I intended to grasp the core biological structure that he advocates, namely, his core logic. Results: Maturana’s biology is the biology of structural determinism. It is embodied in a composite entity called a “structure-determined system” with two non-intersecting domains - the domain of interactions and the domain of the composition of components – which can be called the core structure or the core logic of his biology. From the perspective of the history of western thought, Aristotle and Schopenhauer can be regarded as good candidates as the precursors of Maturana’s work, and his work can be characterized as an advanced form of Aristotle’s hylomorphism, depicted on the horizon of Schopenhauer’s world of “Vorstellung” (bringing-forth). Implications: This finding will be useful for understanding Maturana’s wide-ranging work and its place in the history of western thought.