New paper: Life After Ashby
The tension between the abstract formulation of the original concept of autopoiesis and the notion of concrete embodiment required by enactive cognitive science has been an ongoing theme in the Life and Mind seminars since the beginning.
John Stewart and I have written a detailed assessment of these issues in a paper, “Life After Ashby: Ultrastability and the Autopoietic Foundations of Biological Autonomy”, which was just published in Cybernetics and Human Knowing. You can find a pre-print version of the paper for download here.
Essentially, we argue that many of the shortcomings of the concept of autopoiesis in relation to the requirements of enactive cognitive science have to do with the level of abstractness at which the concept was originally formulated by Maturana and Varela. We suggest, in general agreement with other members of the Life and Mind seminars, that a return to the concrete (physical, chemical) is needed.
The editors of Cybernetics and Human Knowing have made a call for commentaries to be published in future volumes of this journal. If you are interested in contributing to this debate, please have a look at the editorial introduction of the current issue for details.