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Entropy 2017, 19(4), 169; doi:10.3390/e19040169

Where There is Life There is Mind: In Support of a Strong Life-Mind Continuity Thesis

Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, University of Wollongong, Wollongong 2500, Australia
Department of Computer Science, Research Institute for Applied Mathematics and Systems,National Autonomous University of Mexico, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 February 2017 / Revised: 10 April 2017 / Accepted: 11 April 2017 / Published: 14 April 2017
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This paper considers questions about continuity and discontinuity between life and mind. It begins by examining such questions from the perspective of the free energy principle (FEP). The FEP is becoming increasingly influential in neuroscience and cognitive science. It says that organisms act to maintain themselves in their expected biological and cognitive states, and that they can do so only by minimizing their free energy given that the long-term average of free energy is entropy. The paper then argues that there is no singular interpretation of the FEP for thinking about the relation between life and mind. Some FEP formulations express what we call an independence view of life and mind. One independence view is a cognitivist view of the FEP. It turns on information processing with semantic content, thus restricting the range of systems capable of exhibiting mentality. Other independence views exemplify what we call an overly generous non-cognitivist view of the FEP, and these appear to go in the opposite direction. That is, they imply that mentality is nearly everywhere. The paper proceeds to argue that non-cognitivist FEP, and its implications for thinking about the relation between life and mind, can be usefully constrained by key ideas in recent enactive approaches to cognitive science. We conclude that the most compelling account of the relationship between life and mind treats them as strongly continuous, and that this continuity is based on particular concepts of life (autopoiesis and adaptivity) and mind (basic and non-semantic). View Full-Text
Keywords: life-mind continuity; free energy principle; radical enactivism; autopoietic enactivism life-mind continuity; free energy principle; radical enactivism; autopoietic enactivism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Kirchhoff, M.D.; Froese, T. Where There is Life There is Mind: In Support of a Strong Life-Mind Continuity Thesis. Entropy 2017, 19, 169.

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