Castoriadis’s encounter with autopoiesis was a decisive factor for his philosophical trajectory. Its influence can be seen on four interconnected levels of his thought: his reconsideration of Greek sources for his later interpretation of trans-regional being as self-creating; his rethinking of objective knowledge; his ventures into philosophical cosmology; and his re-evaluation of the living being, especially in light of his dialogue with Varela. In brief, Castoriadis’s engagement with autopoiesis was significant for his shift towards an ontology of radical physis. His shift to radical physis does not point so much to a rejection of the project of autonomy, however, as, paradoxically, its simultaneous radicalization and relativization.
Aguilar W., Santamaría-Bonfil G., Froese T. & Gershenson C. (2014) The past, present, and future of artificial life. Frontiers in Robotics and AI 1: 8. https://cepa.info/1125
For millennia people have wondered what makes the living different from the non-living. Beginning in the mid-1980s, artificial life has studied living systems using a synthetic approach: build life in order to understand it better, be it by means of software, hardware, or wetware. This review provides a summary of the advances that led to the development of artificial life, its current research topics, and open problems and opportunities. We classify artificial life research into 14 themes: origins of life, autonomy, self-organization, adaptation (including evolution, development, and learning), ecology, artificial societies, behavior, computational biology, artificial chemistries, information, living technology, art, and philosophy. Being interdisciplinary, artificial life seems to be losing its boundaries and merging with other fields. Relevance: Artificial life has contributed to philosophy of biology and of cognitive science, thus making it an important field related to constructivism.
Aguilera M. (2015) Interaction dynamics and autonomy in cognitive systems, from sensorimotor coordination to collective action. Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain. https://cepa.info/4791
The concept of autonomy is of crucial importance for understanding life and cognition. Whereas cellular and organismic autonomy is based in the self-production of the material infrastructure sustaining the existence of living beings as such, we are interested in how biological autonomy can be expanded into forms of autonomous agency, where autonomy as a form of organization is extended into the behaviour of an agent in interaction with its environment (and not its material self-production) In this thesis, we focus on the development of operational models of sensorimotor agency, exploring the construction of a domain of interactions creating a dynamical interface between agent and environment. We present two main contributions to the study of autonomous agency: First, we contribute to the development of a modelling route for testing, comparing and validating hypotheses about neurocognitive autonomy. Through the design and analysis of specific neurodynamical models embedded in robotic agents, we explore how an agent is constituted in a sensorimotor space as an autonomous entity able to adaptively sustain its own organization. Using two simulation models and different dynamical analysis and measurement of complex patterns in their behaviour, we are able to tackle some theoretical obstacles preventing the understanding of sensorimotor autonomy, and to generate new predictions about the nature of autonomous agency in the neurocognitive domain. Second, we explore the extension of sensorimotor forms of autonomy into the social realm. We analyse two cases from an experimental perspective: the constitution of a collective subject in a sensorimotor social interactive task, and the emergence of an autonomous social identity in a large-scale technologically-mediated social system. Through the analysis of coordination mechanisms and emergent complex patterns, we are able to gather experimental evidence indicating that in some cases social autonomy might emerge based on mechanisms of coordinated sensorimotor activity and interaction, constituting forms of collective autonomous agency.
Akpan J. P. & Beard L. A. (2016) Using constructivist teaching strategies to enhance academic outcomes of students with special needs. Universal Journal of Educational Research 4(2): 392–398. https://cepa.info/4701
Over the past decades many teaching strategies have been proposed by various educators to improve education of all students including students with special needs. No single one of these proposed teaching strategies meets the needs of all students. The new Every Student Succeeds Act, successor to No Child Left behind Law, which transfers oversight from federal level back to states, could be a benefactor for constructivism and special education. Educators are also optimistic that the new Every Student Succeeds Act will be better for vulnerable students in special education because it will introduce more flexibility in how individual states carry out evaluation of students and teachers. In addition, it will provide more flexibility on testing and adapt the curriculum to student’s needs. It would further reduce time and energy for students preparing for standardized tests or statewide exams. It will also end “Adequate Yearly Progress” – a measure that required schools to show test score gains. Constructivist teaching philosophy is all about accepting student autonomy where student thinking drives the lessons, where dialogue, inquiry, and puzzlement are valued and assessing student learning is in the context of teaching. It helps teachers to draw on new ideas as they make decisions about which teaching techniques are most appropriate for all students to learn. Now is the time to revisit the great debate of constructivism versus teacher-centered instruction and special education. Time has come to effectively explore our educational system and examine the core unit of the whole enterprise, the textbook, the classroom, a setting that is often dominated by teacher talk and students listen.
Arnellos A. & Spyrou T. (2008) Emergence and Downward Causation in Contemporary Artificial Agents: Implications for their Autonomy and Some Design Guidelines. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 15(3–4): 15–41. https://cepa.info/3298
Contemporary research in artificial environments has marked the need for autonomy in artificial agents. Autonomy has many interpretations in terms of the field within which it is being used and analyzed, but the majority of the researchers in artificial environments are arguing in favor of a strong and life-like notion of autonomy. Departing from this point the main aim of this paper is to examine the possibility of the emergence of autonomy in contemporary artificial agents. The theoretical findings of research in the areas of living and cognitive systems, suggests that the study of autonomous agents should adopt a systemic and emergent perspective for the analysis of the evolutionary development of the notions/properties of autonomy, functionality, intentionality and meaning, as the fundamental and characteristic properties of a natural agent. An analytic indication of the functional emergence of these concepts and properties is provided, based on the characteristics of the more general systemic framework of second-order cybernetic and of the interactivist framework. The notion of emergence is a key concept in such an analysis which in turn provides the ground for the theoretical evaluation of the autonomy of contemporary artificial agents with respect to the functional emergence of their capacities. The fundamental problems for the emergence of genuine autonomy in artificial agents are critically discussed and some design guidelines are provided.
This paper attempts to provide the basis for a broader naturalized account of agency. Naturalization is considered as the need for an ongoing and open-ended process of scientific inquiry driven by the continuous formulation of questions regarding a phenomenon. The naturalization of agency is focused around the interrelation of the fundamental notions of autonomy, functionality, intentionality and meaning. Certain naturalized frameworks of agency are criti¬cally considered in an attempt to bring together all the charac¬teristic properties that constitute an autonomous agent, as well as to indicate the shaping of these notions/properties during the development and the evolution of its agential capacity. Autonomy and interaction are proved to be key concepts in this endeavor.
This paper reviews Constructivism and the sources of its influence over Israeli educational discourse. Then, it describes examples of Constructivists projects in the teaching of sciences and technology in Israel (Sela, Media Plus), as well as a project that is based on the Constructivist approach to teaching (Together), and several Constructivist experimental schools, followed by a summary of the obstacles to the implementation of such projects. Next, it stresses two basic flaws in the Constructivist view and introduces a post-constructivist educational paradigm, the Autonomy Oriented Education (AOE), which uses ‘reflection on experiments in living’ as its major tool and aims to enable the development of autonomous, belonging and moral individuals.
Baerveldt C. & Verheggen T. (1999) Enactivism and the experiential reality of culture: Rethinking the epistemological basis of cultural psychology. Culture & Psychology 5(2): 183–206. https://cepa.info/2414
The key problem of cultural psychology comprises a paradox: while people believe they act on the basis of their own authentic experience, cultural psychologists observe their behavior to be socially patterned. It is argued that, in order to account for those patterns, cultural psychology should take human experience as its analytical starting point. Nevertheless, there is a tendency within cultural psychology to either neglect human experience, by focusing exclusively on discourse, or to consider the structure of this experience to originate in an already produced cultural order. For an alternative approach, we turn to the enactive view of cognition developed by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. Their theory of autonomy can provide the epistemological basis for a cultural psychology that explains how experience can become socially patterned in the first place. Cultural life forms are then considered as consensually coordinated, embodied practices.
Baerveldt C., Verheggen T. & Voestermans P. (2001) Human experience and the enigma of culture: Towards an enactive account of cultural practice. In: Morss J. R., Stepehnson N. & Van Rappard H. (eds.) Theoretical issues in psychology. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell MA: 49–58. https://cepa.info/5678
This paper deals with the way cultural psychology should deal with human experience. The common view about the relation between culture and experience holds that experience becomes “cultural” when people internalize or appropriate ready made cultural meanings. We contend that cultural forms themselves need to be dealt with in experiential terms. To this end we propose an “enactive” approach to cultural psychology. A central claim of enactivism is that experience is rooted within the organizational and operational autonomy of an acting system. Enactivism considers human experience to be constitutive for social and cultural phenomena. The main question of an enactive cultural psychology relates to the way human action becomes consensually coordinated. Both social psychologists who stress “sharedness” as the distinct mark of the social, and evolutionary psychologists who consider culture to derive from a uniform human mind, are criticized for overlooking the ongoing mutual tuning processes that give rise to socially and culturally patterned conduct.
Balint T. S. & Pangaro P. (2017) The emerging roles of the observer on human space missions: Curated autonomy through boundary objects. In: Proceedings of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2017), Volume 18. International Astronautical Federation, Paris: 12309–12324. https://cepa.info/7369
The roles of art, design, and architecture on long-duration human space missions could have deep, significant impact on the functional capabilities of human environments in space, far beyond mere form and aesthetics. Yet, today’s technology-driven paradigm of space design pays limited attention to “soft” disciplines that relate to artistic and designerly modes of operations. This current worldview is governed by engineers and project managers. “Soft” considerations are looked at as nice-to-have add-ons at the end of the project, dependent on resource availability. While sufficient for short missions, this unnecessarily constrained view of artistic and designerly modes must change for long-duration missions, as the crew spends nearly 100% of their time inside a severely limited volume, in virtual isolation. Thus, it becomes necessary for all the systems, usable objects, and artistic artifacts inside the habitat to be connected to the goal of facilitating engaging interactions with the crew. Artifacts – as boundary objects in the intersection of various disciplines – facilitate circular conversations between an observer (crew member) and the environment of the spacecraft, and have many important functions. They provide emotional connections and comfort, promote well-being, support autonomy, help thinking to evolve novel ideas, and aid discovery and entertainment. When designing for experiences and interactions in space, artists, designers, and architects are able to look at artifacts from the perspective of the crew as observers, and imagine a rich set of interactions through various aspects and stages of the spaceflight. As a result, these artifacts support the higher-level needs of the observer, beyond basic physiological, psychological, and safety needs. They are designed for the well-being of the crew members, while sustainably utilizing the habitat volume and resources. In this paper we systematically show how human-centered roles and circular conversations between the observers and their environments can be incorporated into the culture of designing for space travel through the involvement of artists, designers and architects, from an early stage of designing the mission and its elements. This process is inclusive of the people who envision and create the environments and user experiences, and those who experience, use, and evolve them. Making the case about the importance of these considerations may help artists, designers, and architects to reframe the discourse of their contributions to space exploration and, in effect, find a stronger acceptance from the decision makers of a technology-driven human space exploration paradigm.