Is there room for normativity in a dynamical world?
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Nov. 15, 2017, 8 p.m. UTC // Nov. 15, 2017, 3 p.m. in America/New_York
Enactivism rejects the standard working hypothesis of cognitive science, according to which all cognition involves the unconscious manipulation of mental representations, and replaces it with a dynamical systems account. And yet enactivism resists other, purely dynamical approaches that see no role for any kind of subjectivity, because it appeals to the role of our lived phenomenology and claims that living beings behave with respect to norms directed at maintaining their viability. So far, this middle way seems to be philosophically unsatisfactory: at best it allows us to claim that acting in accordance with experience or norms just is a certain kind of dynamic pattern. But this turns subjectivity into a mysterious difference that makes no difference as such with respect to the unfolding of those patterns, which is completely determined by the dynamics alone. This calls for deeper philosophical reflection about how it is possible for subjectivity to play a role in an objective world while avoiding a regression to the untenable positions of either representationalism or eliminativism.