Enactivism and the New Teleology: Reconciling the Warring Camps

Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies (2):173-198 (2014)
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Enactivism has the potential to provide a sense of teleology in purpose-directed action, but without violating the principles of efficient causation. Action can be distinguished from mere reaction by virtue of the fact that some systems are self-organizing. Self-organization in the brain is reflected in neural plasticity, and also in the primacy of motivational processes that initiate the release of neurotransmitters necessary for mental and conscious functions, and which guide selective attention processes. But in order to flesh out the enactivist approach in a way that is plausible and not merely an epiphenomenon, it is necessary to confront the problem of causal closure in a serious way. Atoms and molecules in the brain do not violate the normal causal principles that govern them in other contexts. The theory of self-organizing dynamical systems must be developed in a way that is compatible with causal closure rather than contradicting it.


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