Context: The idea for this article sprang from a desire to revive a conversation with the late Ernst von Glasersfeld on the heuristic function - and epistemological status - of forms of ideations that resist linguistic or empirical scrutiny. A close look into the uses of humor seemed a thread worth pursuing, albeit tenuous, to further explore some of the controversies surrounding the evocative power of the imaginal and other oblique forms of knowing characteristic of creative individuals. Problem: People generally respond to humor, i.e., they are inclined to smile at things they find funny. People like to crack jokes, make puns, and, starting at age two, human infants engage in pretense or fantasy play. Research on creativity, on the other hand, has mostly scorned the trickster within. Cognitivists in particular are quick to relegate wit, whimsy, and even playfulness to the ranks of artful or poetic frivolities. Method: We use the emblems of the craftsman, the trickster, and the poet to highlight some of the oblique ways of knowing by which creative thinkers bring forth new insights. Each epitomizes dimensions intrinsic to the art of “possibilizing.” Taken together, they help us better understand what it means to be playful beyond curious, rigorous beyond reasonable, and why this should matter, even to constructivists! Results: The musings characteristic of creative individuals (artists, scientists, children) speak to intelligent beings’ ability to use glitches intentionally or serendipitously as a means to open up possibilities; to hold on to a thought before spelling it out; and to resist treating words or images as conventional and arbitrary signs regardless of their evocative power. To fall into nominalism, Bachelard insisted, is a poet’s nightmare! Implications: Psyche is image, said Jung, and when we feel alive we rely on the imaginal to guide our reason. Note that image is not here to be understood as a picture in the head or a photographic snapshot of the world. The imaginal does not represent, it brings forth what we understand beyond words. It does not lock us into a single mode. Instead, it is a call to be mindful, in Ellen Langer’s sense: in the present, mentally alert, and on the outlook for our psyche’s own surprising wisdom (sagacity. Constructivist content: Debates on the heuristic function and epistemological status of oblique ways of knowing have long occupied constructivist scholars. I can only guess whether my uses of Jung’s imaginal or Bachelard’s anti-nominalism would have amused or exasperated Ernst! I do know that, on occasion, Ernst the connoisseur, bricoleur, and translator allowed the rationalist-within to include the poet’s power to evoke as a legitimate form of rationality. He himself has written about oblique knowing as legit!
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.
Aizawa K. (2014) Extended cognition. In: Shapiro L. (ed.) The Routledge handbook of embodied cognition. Routledge, London: 31–38. https://cepa.info/4462
Excerpt: This brief chapter will focus on two types of arguments for extended cognition inspired by Clark and Chalmers (1998). First, there has been the thought that cognition extends when processes in the brain, body, and world are suitably similar to processes taking place in the brain. We might describe these as cognitive equivalence arguments for extended cognition. Second, there has been the thought that, when there is the right kind of causal connection between a cognitive process and bodily and environmental processes, cognitive processes come to be realized by processes in the brain, body, and world. We might describe these as coupling arguments for extended cognition. What critics have found problematic are the kinds of similarity relations that have been taken to be applicable or suitable for concluding that there is extended cognition and the conditions that have been offered as providing the right kind of causal connection.
Alhadeff-Jones M. (2009) Revisiting educational research through Morin’s paradigm of complexity. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education 6(1): 61–70. https://cepa.info/332
The aim of this paper is to question the way one conceives the use of a specific theoretical approach (i.e., theories associated with the concept of complexity) in order to promote changes in educational practices and theories. The position I am adopting translates the conviction that any reform of thought has to be conceived in conjunction with a reflection about the idea of reform itself (Morin, 1999). It is therefore assumed that the use of the notion of complexity, to be critical and to bring significant changes, supposes not only to use a specific theoretical vocabulary, but also and above all to change the way scientific activity itself is conceived in order to bring about such a transformation. Following Edgar Morin’s constructivist and non-dualistic contribution, this paper discusses concepts such as program, strategy, prescription, interpretation, monoreferentiality and multireferentiality, in order to discuss researchers’ implication and the way they manage the relationships between the conditions of production of scientific discourses and the ″realities″ to which they are referring.
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.
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.
Enactivism is an emerging perspective both in cognitive science and in cultural psychology. Whereas the enactive approach in general has focused on sense-making as an embodied and situated activity, enactive cultural psychology emphasizes the expressive and dynamically enacted nature of cultural meaning. This chapter first situates enactivism within a tradition of expressivist thinking that has historical roots both in radical Enlightenment thought and Romantic reactions against the rationalization of human nature. It will then offer a view of our human biology that can be reconciled with an account of meaning as irreducibly normative. By emphasizing the consensual rather than the supposedly shared nature of meaningful conduct, enactivism avoids some of the classical pitfalls in thinking about culture. In the conclusion a genetic enactive psychology will be presented, which understands sense-making not as a mediated activity, but as a competence acquired through cultural training and personal stylization.
Bagheri Noaparast K. (2022) Challenges Facing the Philosophy of Education in the Twenty-First Century. In: Alpaydın Y. & Demirli C. (eds.) Educational theory in the 21st century. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore: 3–23.
The philosophy of education faced challenges in the twentieth century that had derived from the challenges general philosophical thought had faced. The following sections introduce the first three main trends in the philosophy of education in the twentieth century (i.e., early prag- matism, “ism” movements, and analytic philosophy of education) along with the challenges these trends faced. Next, the new horizons for the twenty-first century are explained under the titles of new pragmatism, post-structuralism, post-modernism, and constructivism. In the mean- time, new conceptions of knowledge and education along with the weaknesses associated with them are introduced and discussed.
Barbaras R. (2001) Merleau-Ponty and nature. Research in Phenomenology 31(1): 22–38. https://cepa.info/4050
The course on nature coincides with the re-working of Merleau-Ponty’s breakthrough towards an ontology and therefore plays a primordial role. The appearance of an interrogation of nature is inscribed in the movement of thought that comes after the Phenomenology of Perception. What is at issue is to show that the ontological mode of the perceived object – not the unity of a positive sense but the unity of a style that shows through in filigree in the sensible aspects has a universal meaning, that the description of the perceived world can give way to a philosophy of perception and therefore to a theory of truth. The analysis of linguistic expression to which the philosophy of perception leads opens out onto a definition of meaning as institution, understood as what inaugurates an open series of expressive appropriations. It is this theory of institution that turns the analysis of the perceived in the direction of a reflection on nature: the perceived is no longer the originary in its difference from the derived but the natural in its difference from the instituted. Nature is the “non-constructed, non-instituted,” and thereby, the source of expression: “nature is what has a sense without this sense having been posited by thought.”\\The first part of the course, which consists in a historical overview, must not be considered as a mere introduction. In fact, the problem of nature is brought out into the open by means of the history of Western metaphysics, in which Descartes is the emblematic figure. The problem consists in the duality at once unsatisfactory and unsurpassable – between two approaches to nature: the one which accentuates its determinability and therefore its transparency to the understanding; the other which emphasizes the irreducible facticity of nature and tends therefore to valorize the viewpoint of the senses. To conceive nature is to constitute a concept of it that allows us to “take possession” of this duality, that is, to found the duality. The second part of the course attempts to develop this concept of nature by drawing upon the results of contemporary science. Thus a philosophy of nature is sketched that can be summarized in four propositions: 1) the totality is no less real than the parts; 2) there is a reality of the negative and therefore no alternative between being and nothingmess; 3) a natural event is not assigned to a unique spatio-temporal localization; and 4) there is generality only as generativity.
Barbaras R. (2002) Francisco Varela: A new idea of perception and life. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1(2): 127–132. https://cepa.info/4769
Connections among Varela’s theory of enactive cognition, his evolutionary theory of natural drift, and his concept of autopoiesis are made clear. Two questions are posed in relation to Varela’s conception of perception, and the tension that exists in his thought between the formal level of organization and the Jonasian notion of the organism.