Synthese 199 (3-4):6623-6644 (2021)
AbstractThe free energy principle is sometimes put forward as accounting for biological self-organization and cognition. It states that for a system to maintain non-equilibrium steady-state with its environment it can be described as minimising its free energy. It is said to be entirely scale-free, applying to anything from particles to organisms, and interactive machines, spanning from the abiotic to the biotic. Because the FEP is so general in its application, one might wonder whether this framework can capture anything specific to biology. We take steps to correct for this here. We first explicate the worry, taking pebbles as examples of an abiotic system, and then discuss to what extent the FEP can distinguish its dynamics from an organism’s. We articulate the notion of ‘autonomy as precarious operational closure’ from the enactive literature, and investigate how it can be unpacked within the FEP. This enables the FEP to delineate between the abiotic and the biotic; avoiding the pebble worry that keeps it out of touch with the living systems we encounter in the world.
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References found in this work
The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience.Francisco J. Varela, Evan Thompson & Eleanor Rosch - 1991 - MIT Press.
Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind.Evan Thompson - 2007 - Harvard University Press.
Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems: Networks of Plausible Inference.Judea Pearl - 1988 - Morgan Kaufmann.
Citations of this work
Laying Down a Forking Path: Tensions Between Enaction and the Free Energy Principle.Ezequiel Di Paolo, Evan Thompson & Randall Beer - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
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