ENSO Seminar Series

Going Round in Circles

Inman Harvey

University of Sussex
May 4, 2017, 9 a.m. UTC // May 4, 2017, 9 a.m. in UTC

Life and cognition are inherently circular dynamical processes, and people have difficulty understanding circular causation. This can be the case even with minimalist proto-agents, barely one step more complex than a 'pet rock', and I shall illustrate how deep-seated such confusions can be. I shall suggest a possible explanation for what goes wrong in interpreting these minimal examples, that then may be looked out for in more complex cases. Autopoietic theories and Radical Enactivism typically claim to take account of such circular causation, but nevertheless frequently fall into similar traps.

On my resulting hit-list: confusions about viability boundaries, about 'extended minds' and 'externalism' (not even wrong, just senseless), why I object to being called an anti-representationalist. And how reasonable is it to leave oneself out of the cognitive circle?

Link to join/watch the seminar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7m0sP9ralc

Recommended Reading

Going round in Circles (Inman Harvey)
A related 2-page extended abstract that was recently submitted to the European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) 2017.