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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Enactivism offers research in embodied cognition an alternative to functionalism. It does so by theorizing the individuation of organic, sensorimotor, and social bodies in their material precariousness. In this chapter, we discuss the concepts of autonomy, agency, and sense-making as they emerge from a dialectical analysis of the notion of autopoiesis. Each of the requirements of self-production and self-distinction in this notion, requirements that an organism must satisfy simultaneously to stay alive, are shown to involve potentialities and tendencies that contradict each other. The overcoming of this dialectical situation is the passage toward a more concrete concept of self-individuation as an open, unfinished operation that extends over time. This is the enactive concept of agency. The implication is that concrete, material self-individuation is always-already, even for the simplest life-forms, the self-individuation of behaving agents that enact a world.

Keywords: enactivism, autopoiesis, autonomy, agency, life-mind continuity, sense-making, dialectics, individuation, materiality, organism-environment co-definition

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