An evolving theory known as “constructivism” challenges the traditional view of how we generate and revise knowledge. Constructivism helps address a major issue raised by modern scholars of the history and philosophy of science, and decision theory. The question is: How do we reduce the search and solution space of complex and changing environments to “mind size” (i.e., to fit our limited memory and computational capacity)? One emerging answer is that we rely heavily upon robust presuppositions and simplified representations of environmental structure. However, such constructed knowledge is likely to be highly fallible, relying as it must on impoverished data bases in the service of strong expectations or paradigms. In this paper we address two issues: Under what conditions can knowledge be highly fallible and at the same time be highly functional?; Can we make a plausible case, within this constructivist frame of reference, for realism, for knowledge that approximates “reality”?
al-Rifaie M. M., Leymarie F. F., Latham W. & Bishop M. J. (2017) Swarmic autopoiesis and computational creativity. Connection Science 29(4): 276–294. https://cepa.info/5027
In this paper two swarm intelligence algorithms are used, the first leading the “attention” of the swarm and the latter responsible for the tracing mechanism. The attention mechanism is coordinated by agents of Stochastic Diffusion Search where they selectively attend to areas of a digital canvas (with line drawings) which contains (sharper) corners. Once the swarm’s attention is drawn to the line of interest with a sharp corner, the corresponding line segment is fed into the tracing algorithm, Dispersive Flies Optimisation which “consumes” the input in order to generate a “swarmic sketch” of the input line. The sketching process is the result of the “flies” leaving traces of their movements on the digital canvas which are then revisited repeatedly in an attempt to re-sketch the traces they left. This cyclic process is then introduced in the context of autopoiesis, where the philosophical aspects of the autopoietic artist are discussed. The autopoetic artist is described in two modalities: gluttonous and contented. In the Gluttonous Autopoietic Artist mode, by iteratively focussing on areas-of-rich-complexity, as the decoding process of the input sketch unfolds, it leads to a less complex structure which ultimately results in an empty canvas; therein reifying the artwork’s “death”. In the Contented Autopoietic Artist mode, by refocussing the autopoietic artist’s reflections on “meaning” onto different constitutive elements, and modifying her reconstitution, different behaviours of autopoietic creativity can be induced and therefore, the autopoietic processes become less likely to fade away and more open-ended in their creative endeavour.
Alrøe H. F. & Noe E. (2012) The paradox of scientific expertise: A perspectivist approach to knowledge asymmetries. Fachsprache - International Journal of Specialized Communication XXXIV(3–4): 152–167. https://cepa.info/462
The paradox of scientific expertise is that the growth of science leads to a fragmentation of scientific expertise. To resolve this paradox, this paper probes three hypotheses: 1) All scientific knowledge is perspectival. 2) The perspectival structure of science leads to specific forms of knowledge asymmetries. 3) Such perspectival knowledge asymmetries must be handled through second order perspectives. We substantiate these hypotheses on the basis of a perspectivist philosophy of science grounded in Peircean semiotics and autopoietic systems theory. Perspectivism is an important elaboration of constructivist approaches to help overcome problems in cross-disciplinary collaboration and use of science, and thereby make society better able to solve complex, real-world problems.
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.
Living systems are characterized as self-generating and self-maintaining systems. This type of characterization allows integration of a wide variety of detailed knowledge in biology. The paper clarifies general notions such as processes, systems, and interactions. Basic properties of self-generating systems, i.e. systems which produce their own parts and hence themselves, are discussed and exemplified. This makes possible a clear distinction between living beings and ordinary machines. Stronger conditions are summarized under the concept of self-maintenance as an almost unique character of living systems. Finally, we discuss the far-reaching consequences that the principles of self-generation and self-maintenance have for the organization, structure, function, and evolution of singleand multi-cellular organisms.
Anderson M. L., Richardson M. J. & Chemero A. (2012) Eroding the boundaries of cognition: Implications of embodiment. Topics in Cognitive Science 4(4): 717–730. https://cepa.info/5572
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task‐specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics.
Semiotics has itself thrived in a generative atmosphere of specialization and synthesis. Now, in an expanding intellectual universe, we converge with several other strains of scholarship. In this brief paper, we not only acknowledge this convergence and complementarity, but actively welcome the emerging rapprochement, which we interpret as representing a radical shift in scientific paradigm. This conceptual revolution transcends a dichotomous Cartesian, analytic view of the world, in the direction of a view embracing the whole, respecting complexity, and fostering synthesis.
Asaro P. (2008) From mechanisms of adaptation to intelligence amplifiers: the philosophy of W. Ross Ashby. In: Husbands P., Holland O. & Wheeler M. (eds.) The mechanical mind in history. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 149–184. https://cepa.info/2329
This chapter sketches an intellectual portrait of W. Ross Ashby’s thought from his earliest work on the mechanisms of intelligence in 1940 through the birth of what is now called artificial intelligence (AI), around 1956, and to the end of his career in 1972. It begins by examining his earliest published works on adaptation and equilibrium, and the conceptual structure of his notions of the mechanisms of control in biological systems. In particular, it assesses his conceptions of mechanism, equilibrium, stability, and the role of breakdown in achieving equilibrium. It then proceeds to his work on refining the concept of “intelligence,” on the possibility of the mechanical augmentation and amplification of human intelligence, and on how machines might be built that surpass human understanding in their capabilities. Finally, the chapter considers the significance of his philosophy and its role in cybernetic thought.
Ashby M. (2013) Cybernetics of cybernetics competition the winning entry: Structure, environment, purpose, and a grand challenge for the ASC. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 20(1–2): 113–123. https://cepa.info/3579
This proposal is based on a view of the ASC as a system that consists of an organism that exists in, and operates purposefully on an environment. We propose changes to the organism and its environment. Our first proposal changes the structure of the ASC organism to make it explicitly and functionally second-order cybernetic. The second proposal changes the environment of influence of the ASC organism.
Ataria Y., Dor-Ziderman Y. & Berkovich-Ohana A. (2015) How does it feel to lack a sense of boundaries? A case study of a long-term mindfulness meditator. Consciousness and Cognition 37: 133–147.
This paper discusses the phenomenological nature of the sense of boundaries (SB), based on the case of S, who has practiced mindfulness in the Satipathana and Theravada Vipassana traditions for about 40years and accumulated around 20,000h of meditative practice. S’s unique abilities enable him to describe his inner lived experience with great precision and clarity. S was asked to shift between three different stages: (a) the default state, (b) the dissolving of the SB, and (c) the disappearance of the SB. Based on his descriptions, we identified seven categories (with some overlap) that alter during the shifts between these stages, including the senses of: (1) internal versus external, (2) time, (3) location, (4) self, (5) agency (control), (6) ownership, and (7) center (first-person-egocentric-bodily perspective). Two other categories, the touching/touched structure and one’s bodily feelings, do not fade away completely even when the sense-of-boundaries disappears.