In recent decades, several theories have claimed to explain the teleological causality of organisms as a function of self-organising and self-producing processes. The most widely cited theories of this sort are variations of autopoiesis, originally introduced by Maturana and Varela. More recent modifications of autopoietic theory have focused on system organisation, closure of constraints and autonomy to account for organism teleology. This article argues that the treatment of teleology in autopoiesis and other organisation theories is inconclusive for three reasons: First, (...) non-living self-organising processes like autocatalysis meet the defining features of autopoiesis without being teleological; second, organisational approaches, whether defined in terms of the closure of constraints, self-determination or autonomy, are unable to specify teleological normativity, that is, the individuation of an ultimate beneficiary; third, all self-organised systems produce local order by maximising the throughput of energy and/or material (obeying the maximum entropy production (MEP) principle) and thereby are specifically organised to undermine their own critical boundary conditions. Despite these inadequacies, an alternative approach called teleodynamics accounts for teleology. This theory shows how multiple self-organising processes can be collectively linked so that they counter each other’s MEP principle tendencies to become codependent. Teleodynamics embraces – not ignoring – the difficulties of self-organisation, but reinstates teleology as a radical phase transition distinguishing systems embodying an orientation towards their own beneficial ends from those that lack normative character. (shrink)
We support the development of non-reductive cognitive science and the naturalization of phenomenology for this purpose, and we agree that the ‘relational turn’ defended by Gallagher is a necessary step in this direction. However, we believe that certain aspects of his relational concept of nature need clarification. In particular, Gallagher does not say whether or how teleology, affect, and other value-related properties of life and mind can be naturalized within this framework. In this paper, we argue that given the phenomenological (...) standards recognized by Gallagher, his commitment to a naturalized phenomenology should entail a commitment to a naturalized concept of value; and the kind of ‘relational nature’ described by Gallagher in his paper is insufficient for this purpose. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued that Wittgenstein’s hinges, the centrepiece of his book On Certainty, are the “ungrounded ground” on which knowledge rests. It is usually understood by this that hinges provide a foundation for knowledge without being themselves epistemically warranted. In fact, Wittgenstein articulates that hinges lack any truth-value and are neither justified nor unjustified. This inevitably places them wholly outside the categorial framework of JTB epistemology. What I call the “groundlessness interpretation”, inspired by OC 166, understands the fundamental pieces (...) of our cognitive scaffolding this way. The view has been largely successful. I argue that this interpretation is incomplete for two basic reasons: first, it is not based on undisputed evidence; second, by assuming that hinges are committed to reality by epistemic fiat, it looks as if Wittgenstein is asking us to blindly trust them regardless of their actual content. Contrary to this, I argue that Wittgenstein describes hinges as illuminating world-pictures that reflect reality and are answerable to facts in a derivate way. As the book shows, hinges originate in our engagement with reality and, while considered unquestionable, could be challenged, reassessed, and replaced by new ones. This indicates that hinges are both the result of knowledge-acquisition and somewhat continuous with one’s set of beliefs. It follows that hinges are ultimately rational, and so, apt instruments to confront scepticism. (shrink)
The claim that knowledge is grounded on a basic, non-inferentially grasped set of principles, which seems to be Aristotle’s view, in contemporary epistemology can be seen as part of a wider foundationalist account. Foundationalists assume that there must be some premise-beliefs at the basis of every felicitous reasoning which cannot be themselves in need of justification and may not be challenged. They provide justification for truths based on these premises, which Aristotle unusually call principles (archái). Can Aristotle be considered a (...) foundationalist? Are his first principles necessary premises to right inferences? We will look at the issue here. (shrink)
El término “conocimiento” y la disciplina filosófica que lo estudia —la teoría del conocimiento— han experimentado notables cambios hasta el presente. La teoría clásica concibe el conocimiento en íntima unión con la verdad, como una captación intelectual de realidades necesarias e inmutables. Con la llegada de la modernidad, la difusión de un clima escéptico puso en duda esta pretensión, cuestionando la aptitud misma del conocimiento para la verdad. Esta duda ha presidido toda la modernidad hasta el presente. Para responder al (...) desafío escéptico, las principales corrientes de la llamada epistemología analítica contemporánea han intentado, sin éxito, explorar el carácter justificante del conocimiento. En este intento, han destacado teorías encaminadas a mostrar que el conocimiento recibe su justificación desde un fundamento, como el fundacionismo y el coherentismo; teorías encaminadas a mostrar que el conocimiento recibe su justificación desde sus fuentes, como el externismo y el internismo; y teorías encaminadas a mostrar que la recibe por las facultades cognitivas mismas como instrumentos de conocimiento fiables, como la epistemología de la virtud. Todas ellas generan, a su vez, nuevas paradojas e imponen la necesidad de volver a los fundamentos de esta disciplina, presentes en la teoría clásica, para descubrir la conexión entre conocimiento y verdad, e intentar detener el desafío escéptico. (shrink)
Minimal cognition is an emerging field of research in the context of the life-mind continuity thesis. It stems from the idea that life and mind are strongly continuous, involving the same basic set of organisational principles. Minimal cognition has been sometimes regarded as the analysis of the minimum requirements for the emergence of cognitive phenomena. In the target article, Deacon describes the emergence of the autogenic system as an interpreting system that displays the simplest form of interpretive competence, its most (...) critical function being the capacity to re-present itself in ever new substrates and to interpret environmental conditions with respect to system self-maintenance. Since Deacon describes the autogen in cognitive terms, this article examines whether the autogen model can embody the critical disposition that underpins the emergence of minimal cognition. It finds that it does so, but argues that the autogenic system itself fails to be cognitive because it lacks the displacement of constraints that enable the semiotic scaffolding exhibited by life processes. The article then discusses the implications of the idea that autogenic processes underpin the emergence of minimal cognition for the life-mind continuity thesis. (shrink)
If it is possible to think that human life is temporal as a whole, and we can make sense of Wittgenstein’s claim that the psychological phenomena called ‘dispositions’ do not have genuine temporal duration on the basis of a distinction between dispositions and other mental processes, we need a compelling account of how time applies to these dispositions. I undertake this here by examining the concept of expectation, a disposition with a clear nexus to time by the temporal point at (...) which the expectation is satisfied. However, it seems that we cannot always identify the beginning of an expectation, and in a few cases, its end. If so, the reduction of expectations to neural events or accompanying feelings which spread over time in the usual way seems a hard enterprise, because these processes, much as other physical processes, have a definite and largely measurable time span. Only at a higher level, that is, as part of human life, expectation can be said to be temporal. (shrink)
In the middle of the twentieth century, Wittgenstein warned that “the method of reducing the explanation of natural phenomena to the smallest possible number of primitive natural laws…leads…into complete darkness” (1958, p. 18). At the time, few philosophers and even fewer scientists were prepared to heed his warning. A half-century later, however, the reductive method of science—the method famously defined by Descartes, brilliantly exemplified by Newtonian physics, and long upheld as the gold standard of scientific explanation—seems to have finally lost (...) its luster. While reduction is still widely defended, in the last decades alternative views have gained credibility, to the extent that a “non-reductive science” is no longer dismissed as an oxymoron. (shrink)
Book Z of the Metaphysics of Aristotle focuses on the idea of the subject, which is one of the senses in which the term “substance” is used. Z is an important book, because it establishes how substance relates to change and matter. One school of interpretation of Z considers one sense of form to be prior to and more important than matter, and has proposed a different reading of the book. I will call this the “formalistic” approach to substance. Supporters (...) of this school hold that the form comprises itself as a whole individual which may be considered as independent of matter. This school focuses especially on Z 3, 1029a-b, where Aristotle seems to challenge the status of matter as an essential part of substance. This paper deals with two formalist approaches, and stresses some difficulties in understanding Z when following the ideas of D. W. Ross. (shrink)
Aristotle’s epistemology has sometimes been associated with foundationalism, the theory according to which a small set of premise-beliefs that are deductively valid or inductively strong provide justification for many other truths. In contemporary terms, Aristotle’s foundationalism could be compared with what is sometimes called “classical foundationalism”. However, as I will show, the equivalent to basic beliefs in Aristotle’s epistemology are the so-called first principles or “axiómata”. These principles are self-evident, but not self-justificatory. They are not justified by their act of (...) understanding, but by the arguments that satisfactorily prove them. In addition, these principles are intellectual, rather than perceptual, so that no basic belief that is about our immediate experience or sensory data is apt to provide the required foundation of knowledge. In spite of this, I argue that Aristotle’s foundationalism has no givens, and that his epistemology resists the objections usually leveled against givens. (shrink)
A. Kenny’s Metaphysics of Mind: 25 years later: To mark the 25th anniversary of A. Kenny’s The Metaphysics of Mind, this article discusses some of the central arguments of this book, in particular, it discusses Descartes’ dualism, the notion of soul or Aristotle’s psychê, human and animal language, voluntary action, the self, the mind-brain relation, thinking and intentionality, and determinism and free will. The author holds that, although Kenny’s book offers valid and substantial arguments inspired in Wittgenstein’s thought and the (...) Aristotelian tradition, he occasionally fails to appreciate the depth of basic concepts in the Aristotelian tradition such as that of psychê and the immateriality of the human intellect. Despite this, the book constitutes one of the best efforts to break off with Descartes’ and the empiricists’ ideas, and to incorporate the Aristotelian tradition to the contemporary philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s concept of intentionality is strongly connected with his views on language and thinking. Although his views progressively developed over time, Wittgenstein came to realise that intentionality is a property of thought that can only be accounted for in the context of ordinary language. On this basis, the view of intentionality that regards it as a natural property, or as a scientifically examinable property that can be found in the natural world is hostage to a number of paradoxes, some of (...) which are discussed here. His atomistic view of language and reality heavily weighed on his earlier conviction that the analysis of the processes of thinking would inevitably provide a central key to intentionality. This analysis regarded thinking as a mental process with undefined and elusive features. Wittgenstein soon realised that this view was the result of unchecked prejudices, and that unless language is regarded as a capacity of thinking, and thinking as an inherently representative capacity of humans that use language in the context of language-games, intentionality will remain unknown. This article provides evidence to understand why Wittgenstein thinks this way. (shrink)
This paper deals with three main issues of Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language: the theory of logical forms, the theory of objects in the Tractatus and his criticisms of the sense-data theory. Wittgenstein’s theses are here compared with those of Leo-nardo Polo’s philosophy, and especially, with some Polo’s remarks on the making of a transcendental language, nominalism and the concept of knowledge in Wittgen-stein’s thought.
This article stresses the main lines of Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy on the nature of the body-soul union. Following Aristotle, Aquinas sees the soul as a ‘principle of life’ which is intimately bound to a body. Together they form a noncontingent composition. In addition, the distinctive feature of the human soul is rationality, which implies that a human needs a mind to be what it is. However, this is not to say, as Descartes proposes, that the reason that I am a (...) human is that I am fully self-conscious. On the contrary, I will show that selfconsciousness is not necessarily a key to defining a human being. To that aim, and based on Aquinas’s views, I draw a distinction between what I will call ‘egos’ and ‘selves’. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to study Leonardo Polo's conception of the principle of identity. This identity is also called Origin; however, an adequate understanding of that expression requires a careful study of the way man comes to be aware of it.