The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Seminar # 11: Autonomy and the organization of the living

Posted in Seminars by Eduardo on February 14, 2007

The next Life and Mind seminar will be on Wednesday, the 21st of Feb., at 15:00 in room ARUN 404A.

Seminar # 11: Autonomy and the organization of the living

There are currently many different approaches to understanding autonomy in the cognitive sciences. Recently, the autopoietic approach has been gaining in recognition, especially through its relation with the enactive paradigm. However, there is still a need to clarify exactly what kind of contribution such a systemic viewpoint of autonomy makes towards our understanding of life and mind. Getting to grips with the notions of “autopoiesis” and “operational closure”, and what the implications of such organizational requirements are for synthesizing autonomous artificial systems is key.

We are making available the first part of Varela’s Principles of Biological Autonomy (on request). There are seven chapters, and although they are all very short and concise, there is consensus to focus the discussion on the last one. For those less familiar with Varela’s work, reading all will be more productive of course.

All welcome!

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One Response

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  1. Hanne De Jaegher said, on February 21, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    The bit on operational closure that I was referring to, is in Varela’s Patterns of Life paper. It looks very much like what Tom was reading out loud for us (so perhaps it was that? I forgot), and Marieke also mentioned this paper.

    Here is the ref:

    Varela, F. J. (1997). “Patterns of life: Intertwining identity and cognition.” Brain and Cognition 34: 72-87.

    and you find the bit I was thinking of on p. 82.

    I think we have online access through the library to this paper, but if not, let me know if you’d like a pdf of it.


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