The Life & Mind Seminar Network

A jewel from Innsbruck, 1943

Posted in Audio / Video, General by Ezequiel on March 16, 2009

I’ve come across this fantastic video of Theodor Erismann demonstrating some experiments on visual inversion. It’s incredibly funny and illuminating and makes you wish you could run experiments in this way. Translation and voice-over by J. J. Gibson.

Check out the fencing exercises…

“Are you prepared to wear these right-left reversing spectacles for several weeks without interruption? From now on, never go out without this device!”

“Except for a few bruises there are no serious aftereffects”.


Seminar #27: Life and its close relatives

Posted in Audio / Video, Seminars by tomfroese on October 26, 2007

The next Life and Mind seminar will take place on the 31st of Oct. in room Pev1 2A01 at 16:30.

Nathaniel Virgo and Simon McGregor will be leading a discussion on:

Life and Its Close Relatives

IT’S ALIVE!!! (Sort of.) We propose that dissipative structures and the production of entropy should be part of the A-Life research
programme, explaining why lifelike properties like self-maintenance are common in the inanimate world and deserve our attention. Examples such as hurricanes, candle flames and photocopiers are even closer to living organisms than they appear on first inspection, and they are easier to study. Inspired by the theory of autopoiesis we’ll suggest that studying these kinds of physical phenomena can give us insight into the dynamics of self-maintenance in living organisms and help us explore its relationship to cognition. We’ll display some cool simulations exploring the behaviour of some simple dissipative systems and showing just how lifelike they can be.

All welcome!

Seminar #26: Exploring the continuity between life and mind

Posted in Audio / Video, Seminars by tomfroese on October 15, 2007

The next Life and Mind seminar will take place on Wed., Oct. 17th, 16:30 – 18:00, in room ARUN401.

For the first Life and Mind meeting this term, Ezequiel Di Paolo will be speaking on:

Exploring the continuity between life and mind: or more ways to upset a closet cognitivist.

Enactivism (Varela et al 1991, Thompson, 2007) articulates several major shifts towards embodied cognition in terms of its biological and experiential roots. In order to prosper, enactivism must move beyond its basis on sensorimotor skills into the problems of higher mental function. But before we can solve this problem, we should provide a proper context to deal with it in a naturalistic setting, as opposed to the apparent naturalism (but actual in-depth mysticism) of cognitivism/computationalism in its classic and embodied versions.

I propose that such a context is given by exploring the connections between life and mind. Several key aspects of mind are already present in minimal forms of life, often with such clarity that their study enables us to approach higher forms of cognition in a much more rigorous and disciplined way (in particular, by providing operational definitions and explanations of terms such as values, norms, identity, meaning, autonomy, behaviour, agency, and social interaction, all grounded in dynamical and systemic categories).

This does not mean that there are no jumps and specializations in the history (evolution and development) of cognitive systems. In fact, the enactive paradigm is very much concerned with explaining those jumps (which only make sense as such once we understand the fundamental continuities that remain unaffected by them). What is common to all these transitions is that they involve, through some specific embodied activity, the emergence of novel forms of agency and sense-making. The result is always a new form of cognitive engagement involving increased mediacy between the agent and its cognitive target.

In this talk I will give some rough overview of these ideas, concentrating on the notion of autonomy as a guiding thread.

All welcome.

Videos for the multi-lingual

Posted in Audio / Video, Seminars by Ezequiel on September 23, 2007

I’ve found a couple of interesting videos. Alas, none of them in English! Sorry. But get your nearest Spanish or German speaker to give you a hand; they’re quite interesting.

First an hour-long interview with Francisco Varela from a Chilean TV program: La Belleza de Pensar.

Next, a 10-min dialogue with Humberto Maturana on robotics and consensual domains (understanding Spanish only helps a bit here).

A nice video with interview and shots of amazing library and surroundings at Heinz von Foerster’s house.

And finally, no language-skills required, a cool video called Process Enacted by Jordan C Greenhalgh



Video of Anil’s Talk

Posted in Audio / Video by Eduardo on May 24, 2007