Constructing Autopoiesis

This essay attempts to explain through an analysis of the limitations of the Lakoff, Johnson and Turner school of cognition and meaning-making, why exactly Arakawa and Gins’ analogical relations with the cognitive science of Maturana and Varela and the philosophy of mind of Gilles Deleuze offer a pair of conceptual/analogical landing sites that enable them to move beyond cognitive science and philosophy of mind to a profound reconfiguration of art and ethics.

We find an embrace of a model of cognitive functioning which, while recognizing top-down behavior (and its socio-cultural correlates), signals an investigation into bottom-up emergent properties. The term emergent properties refer to processes of self-organization with two related properties—distributed and enactive—which force the analysis of even single organisms as societies united through spontaneous cognitive activity. Whether talking analogically about connectionist computer architecture, the behavior of organic neural nets, aggregating natural and artificial life forms, or models of distributed “social” cognition, “mind,” and its behavior, become understood not as that which controls the body, but as that which results spontaneously as embodied cognitive processes emerging locally, and then producing global effects. For the human corpus, we refer to processes of cognition located in the senses, the nervous systems, muscles, endocrine system and the individual organs of the body. In particular, we may find analogical explorations of these issues in the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, whose smooth and striated spaces of the Body Without Organs bears a strong resemblance to the distinction between bottom-up and top-down cognitive processes.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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