Publication 7299

Rolla G. & Figueiredo N. (2021) Bringing forth a world, literally. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online first. Fulltext at
Our objective in this paper is twofold: first, we intend to address the tenability of the enactivist middle way between realism and idealism, as it is proposed in The Embodied Mind. We do so by taking the enactivist conception of bringing forth a world literally in three conceptual levels: enaction, niche construction and social construction. Based on this proposal, we claim that enactivism is compatible with the idea of an independent reality without committing to the claim that organisms have cognitive access to a world composed of properties specified prior to any cognitive activity. Our second goal is to show that our literal interpretation of bringing forth a world not only sustains the legitimacy of the middle way, but it also allows us to revive the conception of evolution as natural drift – which is perhaps the least examined aspect of the original enactivist theory and is central to the understanding of cognition in an enactive way. Natural drift focuses on how structural couplings between organism and environment trigger viable pathways of maintenance and reproduction, instead of selecting the most adapted trait to a pregiven environment. Thus, although enactivists typically do not explore the consequences of their views regarding evolutionary dynamics, we show how natural drift provides a suitable starting point.

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