Kiverstein J. (2020) Free energy and the self: An ecological-enactive interpretation. Topoi 39(3): 559–574. https://cepa.info/7837
Free energy and the self: An ecological-enactive interpretation.
Topoi 39(3): 559–574.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/7837
According to the free energy principle all living systems aim to minimise free energy in their sensory exchanges with the environment. Processes of free energy minimisation are thus ubiquitous in the biological world. Indeed it has been argued that even plants engage in free energy minimisation. Not all living things however feel alive. How then did the feeling of being alive get started? In line with the arguments of the phenomenologists, I will claim that every feeling must be felt by someone. It must have mineness built into it if it is to feel a particular way. The question I take up in this paper asks how mineness might have arisen out of processes of free energy minimisation, given that many systems that keep themselves alive lack mineness. The hypothesis I develop in this paper is that the life of an organism can be seen as an inferential process. Every living system embodies a probability distribution conditioned on a model of the sensory, physiological, and morphological states that are highly probably given the life it leads and the niche it inhabits. I argue for an ecological and enactive interpretation of free energy. I show how once the life of an organism reaches a certain level of complexity mineness emerges as an intrinsic part of the process of life itself.
Nielsen T. (2017) Microdream neurophenomenology. Neuroscience of Consciousness 2017(1): nix001. https://cepa.info/5891
Neuroscience of Consciousness 2017(1): nix001.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/5891
Nightly transitions into sleep are usually uneventful and transpire in the blink of an eye. But in the laboratory these transitions afford a unique view of how experience is transformed from the perceptually grounded consciousness of wakefulness to the hallucinatory simulations of dreaming. The present review considers imagery in the sleep-onset transition – “microdreams” in particular – as an alternative object of study to dreaming as traditionally studied in the sleep lab. A focus on microdream phenomenology has thus far proven fruitful in preliminary efforts to (i) develop a classification for dreaming’s core phenomenology (the “oneiragogic spectrum”), (ii) establish a structure for assessing dreaming’s multiple memory inputs (“multi-temporal memory sources”), (iii) further Silberer’s project for classifying sleep-onset images in relation to waking cognition by revealing two new imagery types (“autosensory imagery,” “exosensory imagery”), and (iv) embed a potential understanding of microdreaming processes in a larger explanatory framework (“multisensory integration approach”). Such efforts may help resolve outstanding questions about dream neurophysiology and dreaming’s role in memory consolidation during sleep but may also advance discovery in the neuroscience of consciousness more broadly.