Archive for the ‘Varela’ Category
This article critiques a number of recent attempts to outline a contemporary theory of panoptic surveillance. It argues that an updated Foucaultian thesis must take into consideration the decentered and networked aspects of information technologies in an attempt to explain how consumer ‘choice’ is shaped by both rewards and punishments. Drawing upon the work of Foucault, Varela, Deleuze and Guattari, a diagrammatic theory of surveillance is developed, one that questions the interconnection between consumer, sales, distribution, and production data.
¿Cómo son las cosas? ¿Cómo es el mundo? El mundo viene de adentro. Lo construimos todos los días a través de la pegajosidad biológica que nos da forma. Eso que llamamos realidad es lo que sucede cuando conversamos y coordinamos consensualmente nuestras conductas. Realidad, es un enunciado que habla de los mundos que llevamos adentro. Si podemos compartir esta premisa que nos ha enseñado Humberto Maturana, también podemos decir que el mundo será, en gran parte, aquello que podamos imaginar y comunicar tan seductoramente que haga vibrar el sistema social en donde vivimos. El mundo es una posibilidad … del lenguaje. En nuestro rizoma tratamos una posibilidad entre muchas otras. La mutación del amor, en nuestro caso, como emoción fundamentalmente humana, muta y lo hace dentro de una nueva conciencia gestada en sincronía con la simbiosis de las complejidades del enmarañamiento de los sistemas vivos en el neotrópico.
Autopoiesis, Structural Coupling and Cognition: A history of these and other notions in the biology of cognition
My intent in this essay is to reflect on the history of some biological notions such as autopoiesis, structural coupling, and cognition, that I have developed since the early 1960’s as a result of my work on visual perception and the organization of the living. No doubt I shall repeat things that I have said in other publications, and I shall present notions that once they are said appear as obvious truisms. Moreover, I shall refine or expand the meaning of such notions, or even modify them. Yet, in any case, the reader is not invited to attend to the truisms, or to what seems to be obvious, rather he or she is invited to attend to the consequences that those notions entail for the understanding of cognition as a biological process. After all, explanations or demonstrations always become self evident once they are understood and accepted, and the purpose of this essay is the expansion of understanding in all dimensions of human existence.
Over the past half century complexity theory has a seminal influence on the entire framework of modern science, affecting all its domains from physics and biology to cognitive science and the human and social sciences. This radical reframing is powered by a new vision of causality: a consequence arises from networks of multiple causes rather than from a single, direct cause.
From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology : a Tribute to Francisco Varela bring together scientists and thinkers from the fields of mathematics, neuroscience, immunology, theoretical biology, cognitive science, philosophy and the social sciences who participate in what can be loosely termed a complex-systems approach to fundamental processes of life, mind and human relations. These researchers share a constellation of concepts: self-organization, autopoiesis, autonomy, enaction, radical embodiment. The goal of these notions is the acquisition of a deeper understanding of non-living and living systems through the ongoing study of emergent properties.
Francisco Varela‘s contribution to the understanding of these ideas was devoted to conjugating non-linear dynamics with first person accounts, constituting the neurophenomenology program which is a component of the general program of naturalizing phenomenology. Francisco Varela’s oeuvre ramifies into an unusually large number of domains essential to contemporary science. This tribute uses it as a basis for presenting new and original work by thinkers of all origins.
Drawing upon cognitive science and systems theory, this article examines a number of issues commonly undertaken in theorizing “online communities.” The thesis is that current approaches to online community that focus on speciﬁc online “places,” such as LamdaMOO, may overlook the actual practices engaged in by current internet users, which focus on ad-hoc interactions with a distributed community. Systems theory, as developed by Vilem Flusser, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, is used to examine the relationship between communication and community. Through this examination a deﬁnition of community as a distributed communications systems, in which individuals function as nodes in the overall system, is developed. The conclusion considers the signiﬁcance of this deﬁnition for the evaluation of the internet as a tool for political action and self-realization.
Emerging in the 1940s, the first cybernetics—the study of communication and control systems—was mainstreamed under the names artificial intelligence and computer science and taken up by the social sciences, the humanities, and the creative arts. In Emergence and Embodiment, Bruce Clarke and Mark B. N. Hansen focus on cybernetic developments that stem from the second-order turn in the 1970s, when the cyberneticist Heinz von Foerster catalyzed new thinking about the cognitive implications of self-referential systems. The crucial shift he inspired was from first-order cybernetics’ attention to homeostasis as a mode of autonomous self-regulation in mechanical and informatic systems, to second-order concepts of self-organization and autopoiesis in embodied and metabiotic systems. The collection opens with an interview with von Foerster and then traces the lines of neocybernetic thought that have followed from his work.
In response to the apparent dissolution of boundaries at work in the contemporary technosciences of emergence, neocybernetics observes that cognitive systems are operationally bounded, semi-autonomous entities coupled with their environments and other systems. Second-order systems theory stresses the recursive complexities of observation, mediation, and communication. Focused on the neocybernetic contributions of von Foerster, Francisco Varela, and Niklas Luhmann, this collection advances theoretical debates about the cultural, philosophical, and literary uses of their ideas. In addition to the interview with von Foerster, Emergence and Embodiment includes essays by Varela and Luhmann. It engages with Humberto Maturana’s and Varela’s creation of the concept of autopoiesis, Varela’s later work on neurophenomenology, and Luhmann’s adaptations of autopoiesis to social systems theory. Taken together, these essays illuminate the shared commitments uniting the broader discourse of neocybernetics.
This paper reformulates some of the questions raised by extended mind theorists from an enactive, life/mind continuity perspective. Because of its reliance on concepts such as autopoiesis, the enactive approach has been deemed internalist and thus incompatible with the extended mind hypothesis. This paper answers this criticism by showing 1) that the relation between organism and cogniser is not one of co-extension, 2) that cognition is a relational phenomenon and thereby has no location, and 3) that the individuality of a cogniser is inevitably linked with the question of its autonomy, a question ignored by the extended mind hypothesis but for which the enactive approach proposes a precise, operational, albeit non-functionalist answer. The paper raises a pespective of embedded and intersecting forms of autonomous identity generation, some of which correspond to the canonical cases discussed in the extended mind literature, but on the whole of wider generality. In addressing these issues, this paper proposes unbiased, non-species specific definitions of cognition, agency and mediation, thus filling in gaps in the extended mind debates that have led to paradoxical situations and a problematic over-reliance on intutions about what counts as cognitive.
The concept of enactive representation was ﬁrst introduced in cognitive psychology by psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner. Pasquinelli deﬁnes precisely the origins of the concept of Enactive knowledge: ‘In Bruner’s view, there are three systems or ways of organizing knowledge and three correspondent forms of representation of the interaction with the world: enactive, iconic and symbolic. Symbolic knowledge is the kind of abstract knowledge that is proper for cognitive functions as language and mathematics. Iconic knowledge is based on visual structures and recognition. Enactive knowledge is constructed on motor skills, such as manipulating objects, riding a bicycle, etc. Enactive representations are acquired by doing’. The term enaction was then adopted by Francisco Varela and his co-workers in order to describe a form of embodied cognition that is opposed to those of classical cognitive sciences. In Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, the authors declared: ‘We propose as a name the term enactive to emphasize the growing conviction that cognition is not the representation of a pregiven world by a pregiven mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind on the basis of a history of the variety of actions that a being in the world performs.’
Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? The question invites two standard replies. Some accept the boundaries of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. Others are impressed by arguments suggesting that the meaning of our words “just ain’t in the head“, and hold that this externalism about meaning carries over into an externalism about mind. We propose to pursue a third position. We advocate a very different sort of externalism: an active externalism, based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes.