Radical enactivism and autopoietic theory of cognition: Prospects for a full revolution in cognitive science
University of Tarapaca, Chile
Feb. 2, 2017, 8 p.m. UTC // Feb. 2, 2017, 3 p.m. in America/New_York
Recently, Michael Wheeler has argued that despite its revolutionary rhetoric, radical enactivism (REC), an extreme wing of the so called 4E cognitive movement, cannot guarantee a full revolution in cognitive science. According to Wheeler, a full revolution in this field requires the rejection of at least two essential tenets of traditional cognitive science, namely internalism and representationalism. That is, a truly revolutionary theory should combine, in a consistent and stable way, externalism and antirepresentationalism. Wheeler observes that within the space of 4E cognitive science there is no clear prospect for such a revolutionary theory. On the one hand, extended functionalism may provide us with externalism, but not with antirepresentationalism. On the other, REC may provide us with antirepresentationalism, but not, so Wheeler claims, with externalism. I argue that as far as REC is concerned, Wheeler is right in his diagnosis. REC cannot secure externalism, and therefore, cannot offer guarantees for a full revolution in cognitive science. The potential for a full revolution, I claim, is to be found outside the enactive space. Where? I argue that right outside the enactive space, a key precursor of the enactive approach, namely the autopoietic theory of cognition, has the potential that Wheeler credits as truly revolutionary.