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Philosophies, Volume 4, Issue 1 (March 2019)

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Open AccessArticle Enactivism and Robotic Language Acquisition: A Report from the Frontier
Philosophies 2019, 4(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4010011
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
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Abstract
In this article, I assess an existing language acquisition architecture, which was deployed in linguistically unconstrained human–robot interaction, together with experimental design decisions with regard to their enactivist credentials. Despite initial scepticism with respect to enactivism’s applicability to the social domain, the introduction [...] Read more.
In this article, I assess an existing language acquisition architecture, which was deployed in linguistically unconstrained human–robot interaction, together with experimental design decisions with regard to their enactivist credentials. Despite initial scepticism with respect to enactivism’s applicability to the social domain, the introduction of the notion of participatory sense-making in the more recent enactive literature extends the framework’s reach to encompass this domain. With some exceptions, both our architecture and form of experimentation appear to be largely compatible with enactivist tenets. I analyse the architecture and design decisions along the five enactivist core themes of autonomy, embodiment, emergence, sense-making, and experience, and discuss the role of affect due to its central role within our acquisition experiments. In conclusion, I join some enactivists in demanding that interaction is taken seriously as an irreducible and independent subject of scientific investigation, and go further by hypothesising its potential value to machine learning. Full article
Open AccessArticle MES: A Mathematical Model for the Revival of Natural Philosophy
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
The different kinds of knowledge which were connected in Natural Philosophy (NP) have been later separated. The real separation came when Physics took its individuality and developed specific mathematical models, such as dynamic systems. These models are not adapted to an integral study [...] Read more.
The different kinds of knowledge which were connected in Natural Philosophy (NP) have been later separated. The real separation came when Physics took its individuality and developed specific mathematical models, such as dynamic systems. These models are not adapted to an integral study of living systems, by which we mean evolutionary multi-level, multi-agent, and multi-temporality self-organized systems, such as biological, social, or cognitive systems. For them, the physical models can only be applied to the local dynamic of each co-regulator agent, but not to the global dynamic intertwining these partial dynamics. To ‘revive’ NP, we present the Memory Evolutive Systems (MES) methodology which is based on a ‘dynamic’ Category Theory; it proposes an info-computational model for living systems. Among the main results: (i) a mathematical translation of the part–whole problem (using the categorical operation colimit) which shows how the different interpretations of the problem support diverging philosophical positions, from reductionism to emergentism and holism; (ii) an explanation of the emergence, over time, of structures and processes of increasing complexity order, through successive ‘complexification processes’. We conclude that MES provides an emergentist-reductionism model and we discuss the different meanings of the concept of emergence depending on the context and the observer, as well as its relations with anticipation and creativity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies - Part 1)
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Open AccessEssay The Process of Evolution, Human Enhancement Technology, and Cyborgs
Philosophies 2019, 4(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4010010
Received: 10 January 2019 / Revised: 14 February 2019 / Accepted: 19 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
The human body is a remarkable example of the process of evolution which ultimately created a sentient being with cognitive, motor, and information-processing abilities. The body can also be thought of as an amazing feat of engineering, and specifically as an example of [...] Read more.
The human body is a remarkable example of the process of evolution which ultimately created a sentient being with cognitive, motor, and information-processing abilities. The body can also be thought of as an amazing feat of engineering, and specifically as an example of molecular nanotechnology, positioning trillions of cells throughout the body, and creating the billions of unique individuals that have existed since the beginning of humanity. On the other hand, from an engineering perspective, there are numerous limitations associated with the human body and the process of evolution to effect changes in the body is exceedingly slow. For example, our skeletal structure is only so strong, our body is subject to disease, and we are programmed by our DNA to age. Further, it took millions of years for Homo sapiens to evolve and hundreds of thousands of years for hominids to invent the most basic technology. To allow humans to go beyond the capabilities that evolution provided Homo sapiens, current research is leading to technologies that could significantly enhance the cognitive and motor abilities of humans and eventually create the conditions in which humans and technology could merge to form a cybernetic being. Much of this technology is being developed from three fronts: due to medical necessity, an interest within the military to create a cyborg soldier, and the desire among some people to self-enhance their body with technology. This article discusses the processes of biological evolution which led to the current anatomical, physiological, and cognitive capabilities of humans and concludes with a discussion of emerging technologies which are directed primarily at enhancing the cognitive functions performed by the brain. This article also discusses a timeframe in which the body will become increasingly equipped with technology directly controlled by the brain, then as a major paradigm shift in human evolution, humans will merge with the technology itself. Full article
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Open AccessArticle AlphaGo, Locked Strategies, and Eco-Cognitive Openness
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 3 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 16 February 2019
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Abstract
Locked and unlocked strategies are at the center of this article, as ways of shedding new light on the cognitive aspects of deep learning machines. The character and the role of these cognitive strategies, which are occurring both in humans and in computational [...] Read more.
Locked and unlocked strategies are at the center of this article, as ways of shedding new light on the cognitive aspects of deep learning machines. The character and the role of these cognitive strategies, which are occurring both in humans and in computational machines, is indeed strictly related to the generation of cognitive outputs, which range from weak to strong level of knowledge creativity. I maintain that these differences lead to important consequences when we analyze computational AI programs, such as AlphaGo, which aim at performing various kinds of abductive hypothetical reasoning. In these cases, the programs are characterized by locked abductive strategies: they deal with weak (even if sometimes amazing) kinds of hypothetical creative reasoning, because they are limited in what I call eco-cognitive openness, which instead qualifies human cognizers who are performing higher kinds of abductive creative reasoning, where cognitive strategies are instead unlocked. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophy and Epistemology of Deep Learning)
Open AccessArticle Exceptional Experiences of Stable and Unstable Mental States, Understood from a Dual-Aspect Point of View
Received: 16 January 2019 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
Within a state-space approach endowed with a generalized potential function, mental states can be systematically characterized by their stability against perturbations. This approach yields three major classes of states: (1) asymptotically stable categorial states, (2) marginally stable non-categorial states and (3) unstable acategorial [...] Read more.
Within a state-space approach endowed with a generalized potential function, mental states can be systematically characterized by their stability against perturbations. This approach yields three major classes of states: (1) asymptotically stable categorial states, (2) marginally stable non-categorial states and (3) unstable acategorial states. The particularly interesting case of states giving rise to exceptional experiences will be elucidated in detail. Their proper classification will be related to Metzinger’s account of self-model and world-model, and empirical support for this classification will be surveyed. Eventually, it will be outlined how Metzinger’s discussion of intentionality achieves pronounced significance within a dual-aspect framework of thinking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies - Part 1)
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Open AccessArticle The Encultured Primate: Thresholds and Transitions in Hominin Cultural Evolution
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 11 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract
This article tries to shed light on the mystery of human culture. Human beings are the only extant species with cumulative, evolving cultures. Many animal species do have cultural traditions in the form of socially transmitted practices but they typically lack cumulative culture. [...] Read more.
This article tries to shed light on the mystery of human culture. Human beings are the only extant species with cumulative, evolving cultures. Many animal species do have cultural traditions in the form of socially transmitted practices but they typically lack cumulative culture. Why is that? This discrepancy between humans and animals is even more puzzling if one realizes that culture seems highly advantageous. Thanks to their accumulated knowledge and techniques our early ancestors were able to leave their cradle in Africa and swarm out across the planet, thereby adjusting themselves to a whole range of new environments. Without culture this would have been impossible. So we may ask once again: if cumulative culture is so useful, why don’t other animals have it? In order to explain this mystery I won’t appeal to the major transitions in human evolution—like walking upright, crafting stone tools and controlling fire, etc.—because that would be question begging. Instead I try to unearth the mechanisms that caused those evolutionary turning points to occur in the first place. It seems that unlike other animals, humans are predisposed to efficiently acquire, store and transmit cultural information in such ways that our cultures can genuinely evolve. Full article
Open AccessPerspective An Evo-Devo Perspective on Analogy in Biology
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 11 January 2019
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Abstract
To explain the amazing morphological and biomechanical analogy between two distantly related vertebrates as are a dolphin and a shark, an explanation exclusively framed in terms of adaptation (i.e., in terms of the Darwinian survival of the fittest) is far from satisfactory. The [...] Read more.
To explain the amazing morphological and biomechanical analogy between two distantly related vertebrates as are a dolphin and a shark, an explanation exclusively framed in terms of adaptation (i.e., in terms of the Darwinian survival of the fittest) is far from satisfactory. The same is true, of course, of any other comparison between structurally similar, but phylogenetically unrelated organisms. A purely evolutionary argument does not throw any light on how the developmental processes of their ancestors could eventually evolve in such a way as to eventually produce these peculiar phenotypes (the arrival of the fittest). How does Nature play with animal and plant form? To address the issue of the evolution of possible forms, we cannot ignore that these are products of development. This invites adopting the integrated perspective, currently known as evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo. Paths through the maze of living forms are not satisfactorily explained in terms of pure geometrical transformations or of the adaptive value of the phenotypes eventually produced. The emergence of form is largely dependent on the intrinsic evolvability of the developmental processes that translate the genotype into phenotypes. As a consequence, development makes analogous structures more likely to evolve than a pure adaptationist argument would ever suggest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophies on Analogy)
Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Philosophies in 2018
Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
Rigorous peer-review is the corner-stone of high-quality academic publishing [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle The Digital and the Real Universe. Foundations of Natural Philosophy and Computational Physics
Received: 6 October 2018 / Revised: 18 December 2018 / Accepted: 20 December 2018 / Published: 3 January 2019
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Abstract
In the age of digitization, the world seems to be reducible to a digital computer. However, mathematically, modern quantum field theories do not only depend on discrete, but also continuous concepts. Ancient debates in natural philosophy on atomism versus the continuum are deeply [...] Read more.
In the age of digitization, the world seems to be reducible to a digital computer. However, mathematically, modern quantum field theories do not only depend on discrete, but also continuous concepts. Ancient debates in natural philosophy on atomism versus the continuum are deeply involved in modern research on digital and computational physics. This example underlines that modern physics, in the tradition of Newton’s Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis, is a further development of natural philosophy with the rigorous methods of mathematics, measuring, and computing. We consider fundamental concepts of natural philosophy with mathematical and computational methods and ask for their ontological and epistemic status. The following article refers to the author’s book, “The Digital and the Real World. Computational Foundations of Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Philosophy.” Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies - Part 1)
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Open AccessArticle Analogy and Visual Content: The Logica memorativa of Thomas Murner
Received: 15 October 2018 / Revised: 9 December 2018 / Accepted: 18 December 2018 / Published: 27 December 2018
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Abstract
In this article, after some thoughts on medieval logic and teaching, we present Thomas Murner’s text, Logica memorativa, showing some of his mnemonic strategies for the student to learn logic quickly. Murner offers a type of “flash cards” that illustrate much of [...] Read more.
In this article, after some thoughts on medieval logic and teaching, we present Thomas Murner’s text, Logica memorativa, showing some of his mnemonic strategies for the student to learn logic quickly. Murner offers a type of “flash cards” that illustrate much of the teaching of logic at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The first impression is visual, because the cards do not contain words that illustrate their content. Murner’s exposition rests on analogies between logic themes that are explained and the visual images presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophies on Analogy)
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Open AccessArticle The Coming Emptiness: On the Meaning of the Emptiness of the Universe in Natural Philosophy
Received: 22 October 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 10 December 2018 / Published: 21 December 2018
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Abstract
The cosmological relevance of emptiness—that is, space without bodies—is not yet sufficiently appreciated in natural philosophy. This paper addresses two aspects of cosmic emptiness from the perspective of natural philosophy: the distances to the stars in the closer cosmic environment and the expansion [...] Read more.
The cosmological relevance of emptiness—that is, space without bodies—is not yet sufficiently appreciated in natural philosophy. This paper addresses two aspects of cosmic emptiness from the perspective of natural philosophy: the distances to the stars in the closer cosmic environment and the expansion of space as a result of the accelerated expansion of the universe. Both aspects will be discussed from both a historical and a systematic perspective. Emptiness can be interpreted as “coming” in a two-fold sense: whereas in the past, knowledge of emptiness, as it were, came to human beings, in the future, it is coming, insofar as its relevance in the cosmos will increase. The longer and more closely emptiness was studied since the beginning of modernity, the larger became the spaces over which it was found to extend. From a systematic perspective, I will show with regard to the closer cosmic environment that the Earth may be separated from the perhaps habitable planets of other stars by an emptiness that is inimical to life and cannot be traversed by humans. This assumption is a result of the discussion of the constraints and possibilities of interstellar space travel as defined by the known natural laws and technical means. With the accelerated expansion of the universe, the distances to other galaxies (outside of the so-called Local Group) are increasing. According to the current standard model of cosmology and assuming that the acceleration will remain constant, in the distant future, this expansion will lead first to a substantial change in the epistemic conditions of cosmological knowledge and finally to the completion of the cosmic emptiness and of its relevance, respectively. Imagining the postulated completely empty last state leads human thought to the very limits of what is conceivable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies - Part 1)
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