In November 1969, the USSR Academy of Sciences' Presidium held a discussion on the principal lines of work being engaged in by the Academy's Institute of Philosophy. A report on this matter was presented by the Institute's director, P. V. Kopnin, Member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Participants in the discussion of the report were M. V. Keldysh, President of the USSR Academy, Academicians F. V. Konstantinov, M. B. Mitin, A. M. Rumiantsev and P. N. Fedoseev, and Corresponding Academician (...) Ts. A. Stepanian. (shrink)
Biological evolution is often viewed narrowly as a change of morphology or allele frequency in a sequence of generations. Here I pursue an alternative informational concept of evolution, as preservation, advance, and emergence of functional information in natural agents. Functional information is a network of signs that are used by agents to preserve and regulate their functions. Functional information is preserved in evolution via complex interplay of copying and construction processes: the digital components are copied, whereas interpreting subagents together with (...) scaffolds, tools, and resources, are constructed. Some of these processes are simple and invariant, whereas others are complex and contextual. Advance of functional information includes improvement and modification of already existing functions. Although the genome information may change passively and randomly, the interpretation is active and guided by the logic of agent behavior and embryonic development. Emergence of new functions is based on the reinterpretation of already existing information, when old tools, resources, and control algorithms are adopted for novel functions. Evolution of functional information progressed from protosemiosis, where signs correspond directly to actions, to eusemiosis, where agents associate signs with objects. Language is the most advanced form of eusemiosis, where the knowledge of objects and models is communicated between agents. (shrink)
Life has semiotic nature; and as life forms differ in their complexity, functionality, and adaptability, we assume that forms of semiosis also vary accordingly. Here we propose a criterion to distinguish between the primitive kind of semiosis, which we call “protosemiosis” from the advanced kind of semiosis, or “eusemiosis”. In protosemiosis, agents associate signs directly with actions without considering objects, whereas in eusemiosis, agents associate signs with objects and only then possibly with actions. Protosemiosis started from the origin of life, (...) and eusemiosis started when evolving agents acquired the ability to track and classify objects. Eusemiosis is qualitatively different from protosemiosis because it can not be reduced to a small number of specific signaling pathways. Proto-signs can be classified into proto-icons that signal via single specific interaction, proto-indexes that combine several functions, and proto-symbols that are processed by a universal subagent equipped with a set of heritable adapters. Prefix “proto” is used here to characterize signs at the protosemiotic level. Although objects are not recognized by protosemiotic agents, they can be reliably reconstructed by human observers. In summary, protosemiosis is a primitive kind of semiosis that supports “know-how” without “know-what”. Without studying protosemiosis, the biosemiotics theory would be incomplete. (shrink)
In contrast to the traditional relational semiotics, biosemiotics decisively deviates towards dynamical aspects of signs at the evolutionary and developmental time scales. The analysis of sign dynamics requires constructivism to explain how new components such as subagents, sensors, effectors, and interpretation networks are produced by developing and evolving organisms. Semiotic networks that include signs, tools, and subagents are multilevel, and this feature supports the plasticity, robustness, and evolvability of organisms. The origin of life is described here as the emergence of (...) simple self-constructing semiotic networks that progressively increased the diversity of their components and relations. Primitive organisms have no capacity to classify and track objects; thus, we need to admit the existence of proto-signs that directly regulate activities of agents without being associated with objects. However, object recognition and handling became possible in eukaryotic species with the development of extensive rewritable epigenetic memory as well as sensorial and effector capacities. Semiotic networks are based on sequential and recursive construction, where each step produces components that are needed for the following steps of construction. Construction is not limited to repair and reproduction of what already exists or is unambiguously encoded, it also includes production of new components and behaviors via learning and evolution. A special case is the emergence of new levels of organization known as metasystem transition. Multilevel semiotic networks reshape the phenotype of organisms by combining a mosaic of features developed via learning and evolution of cooperating and/or conflicting subagents. (shrink)
Functional information means an encoded network of functions in living organisms from molecular signaling pathways to an organism’s behavior. It is represented by two components: code and an interpretation system, which together form a self-sustaining semantic closure. Semantic closure allows some freedom between components because small variations of the code are still interpretable. The interpretation system consists of inference rules that control the correspondence between the code and the function (phenotype) and determines the shape of the fitness landscape. The utility (...) factor operates at multiple time scales: short-term selection drives evolution towards higher survival and reproduction rate within a given fitness landscape, and long-term selection favors those fitness landscapes that support adaptability and lead to evolutionary expansion of certain lineages. Inference rules make short-term selection possible by shaping the fitness landscape and defining possible directions of evolution, but they are under control of the long-term selection of lineages. Communication normally occurs within a set of agents with compatible interpretation systems, which I call communication system. Functional information cannot be directly transferred between communication systems with incompatible inference rules. Each biological species is a genetic communication system that carries unique functional information together with inference rules that determine evolutionary directions and constraints. This view of the relation between utility and inference can resolve the conflict between realism/positivism and pragmatism. Realism overemphasizes the role of inference in evolution of human knowledge because it assumes that logic is embedded in reality. Pragmatism substitutes usefulness for truth and therefore ignores the advantage of inference. The proposed concept of evolutionary pragmatism rejects the idea that logic is embedded in reality; instead, inference rules are constructed within each communication system to represent reality, and they evolve towards higher adaptability on a long time scale. (shrink)
Principles of constructivism are used here to explore how organisms develop tools, subagents, scaffolds, signs, and adaptations. Here I discuss reasons why organisms have composite nature and include diverse subagents that interact in partially cooperating and partially conflicting ways. Such modularity is necessary for efficient and robust functionality, including mutual construction and adaptability at various time scales. Subagents interact via material and semiotic relations, some of which force or prescribe actions of partners. Other interactions, which I call “guiding”, do not (...) have immediate effects and do not disrupt the evolution and learning capacity of partner agents. However, they modify the extent of learning and evolutionary possibilities of partners via establishment of scaffolds and constraints. As a result, subagents construct reciprocal scaffolding for each other to rebalance their communal evolution and learning. As an example, I discuss guiding interactions between the body and mind of animals, where the pain system adjusts mind-based learning to the physical and physiological constraints of the body. Reciprocal effects of mind and behaviors on the development and evolution of the body includes the effects of Lamarck and Baldwin. (shrink)
Pragmatics, i.e., a system of values in agent behavior, marks the boundary between physics and semiotics. Agents are defined as systems that are able to control their behavior in order to increase their values. The freedom of actions in agents is based on the distinction between macrocharacters that describe the state or stage, and micro-characters that are interpreted as memory. Signs are arbitrarily established relations between micro- and macro-characters that are anticipated to be useful for agents. Three kinds of elementary (...) signs have been developed in agents via evolution and learning to support useful and flexible behaviors. The behavior of agents can be explained, predicted, and modified using the optimality principle, according to which agents select those actions that are expected to increase their value. However, agents may select actions based on their own model of the world, which have to be reconstructed in order to predict their behavior. Pragmatics in agents can be induced, learned from individual experience or natural selection, or adopted. (shrink)
The major merit of Rose's book is the elaboration of the idea of multilevel causation in different explanatory languages. Yet Rose's critique of “ultra-Darwinism” is not convincing. Rose argues that activity and self-replication are properties of organisms rather than genes, which contradicts his idea of multilevel causation. Also, Rose fails to develop the concept of multilevel selection.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:A great deal of ink has been spilled on the topic of "Augustinian illumination" over the past two hundred years. Why add more? Although there have been, and continue to be, disagreements over the philosophical relevance of "Augustinian illumination," a standard picture of "Augustinian illumination" is widespread in journal articles, encyclopedias, and commentaries on medieval philosophy. "Augustinian illumination" is widely understood as that Platonic account of knowledge that holds (...) that absolutely certain, necessary truth is attained not via the senses, which are mutable and thus incapable of delivering certainty, but via awareness of the eternality of the divine ideas in the mind of God. Further, the secondary literature has routinely described "Augustinian illumination" as offering an account of knowledge that is different from and incompatible with Aristotle's emphasis on the necessity of input from sensible species in our knowledge of the natures of material things. Finally, the literature has consistently represented Bonaventure as continuing "Augustinian illumination," and Aquinas as rejecting it, and has represented Bonaventure and Aquinas as in agreement that Aristotle and Augustine's cognitive psychologies are incompatible.I have argued elsewhere that this standard representation of "Augustinian illumination" is perhaps best seen as the product of the era of the retrieval of medieval philosophy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Here, my focus is on two texts long considered central to Bonaventure's continuation of "Augustinian illumination" and Aquinas's rejection of it: Bonaventure's Question IV of the Quaestiones disputatae de scientia Christi , and Aquinas's Summa theologiae Ia. 84, 1-8 . My argument is that Aquinas and Bonaventure do not interpret Augustine as following a Platonic epistemological schema, nor do they agree that Aristotle and Augustine hold contradictory cognitive psychologies. Instead, both Bonaventure and Aquinas interpret Augustine as consciously rejecting Platonic epistemology and as ripe for assimilation with Aristotelian epistemological givens, including the notion that paradigmatic knowledge proceeds from the senses, and both articulate a cognitive psychology that harmonizes Augustinian and Aristotelian elements. In other words, if by "Augustinian illumination" we mean the continuation of a Platonic account of knowledge at odds with an Aristotelian emphasis on the necessity of the senses in the creation of certain knowledge, then at least in these texts, Bonaventure does not continue "Augustinian illumination," nor does Aquinas reject it, because "it" does not exist in their reading or interpretation of Augustine's texts.After some brief remarks about the history of the interpretative strain that has marked the commentary on these texts, I begin with Aquinas's ST Ia 84.1-8 in section I. Although it is chronologically a decade or so later, Aquinas's streamlined treatment of the role of the eternal reasons in the production of scientia sets up a clear comparison with Bonaventure's slightly earlier, longer Quaestiones disputatae de scientia Christi , which I discuss in section II. The similarities between Bonaventure and Aquinas's positions can be seen with greater clarity when contrasted with Henry of Ghent's slightly later treatment in the Summa theologiae, Q. 1, art. 1, 2, which I treat in section III. In particular what emerges is a clear contrast with how Ghent reads and assimilates the Augustinian corpus: Ghent's is an explicitly pro-Platonic Augustine, and his formulation of "illumination" is precisely the reading of Augustine that Bonaventure and Aquinas reject. I conclude with remarks highlighting the similarities in Bonaventure and Aquinas's approach vis a vis Ghent's and suggest the need to revise our notions of thirteenth century approaches to "Augustinian illumination" as well as our narratives regarding the assimilation of Aristotle's epistemological corpus in the middle-decades of the thirteenth-century.Interpretative strainBonaventure's question IV and Aquinas's ST Ia 84, 1-8 have long shown signs of interpretive strain. Detailed commentaries on this section of the Summa often skip over article 5 on the Augustinian eternal reasons entirely, or simply reiterate stock interpretations. Alternatively, it is grudgingly admitted that Question 84 evidences an. (shrink)
Pasnau sets the philosophy in the context of ancient and modern thought, looking at some of the most difficult areas of Aquinas's thought: the relationship of soul to body, workings of sense and intellect, will and passions, and personal identity.
Short historical and cultural sketch of Frances decisive years during the Second World War, between occupation and resistance, re f racted by the prism of the Sartrean figure of the engagé intellectual, which was born out of this conjuncture of sharp political crisis. This sketch, however, is extracted out of my analysis of the int e r nal organization of what seems to be, at first sig ht, Sartres most d i s e ng a ged work, one that was (...) cons e c rated by tradition as a cons t e l l a t ion of ideas shining on the sky of pure philosophy Being and Nothingness. (shrink)
O tendinţă relativ nouă în filosofia contemporană a matematicii este reprezentată de nemulţumirea manifestată de un număr din ce în ce mai mare de filosofi faţă de viziunea tradiţională asupra matematicii ca având un statut special ce poate fi surprins doar cu ajutorul unei epistemologii speciale. Această nemulţumire i-a determinat pe mulţi să propună o nouă perspectivă asupra matematicii – una care ia în serios aspecte până acum neglijate de filosofia matematicii, precum latura sociologică, istorică şi empirică a cercetării matematice (...) şi care acordă astfel o atenţie deosebită practicii matematice. (shrink)
Foreword Philip T. Grier The attempt to retrieve a work of scholarship buried under as much historical debris as was IA Il'in's original two-volume commentary on the philosophy of Hegel presented distinct challenges, as well as possible ...