IAS-Research Talk by Sergio Rubín (Earth and Life Institute, UCLouvain), “Biological Autonomy and Gaian Systems”

ABSTRACT: In this presentation it is assumed that the Earth system is autopoietically organized and that therefore the system is constituted as an autonomous system. That is assumed from chemical atmospheric and geological evidence and from how the organization of the Earth system as autopoietic satisfies relations of formal systems such as the (M,R)-system, chemical organization theory, and variational free energy minimization. This implies that the autonomy of the internal biological unities of the Gaian system, such as prokaryotes and unicellular or metacellular eukaryotes, although they are structurally coupled and therefore participate in planetary self-production, their autonomy and their ecology and evolution depend largely on the Gaian system biology of cognition and enaction with its outer solar space. This point of view, however, poses a fundamental problem. To what extent the biological unities internal to the Gaian system can or can’t affect its autonomy. This presentation will discuss this problem, but by no means will it come to a final conclusion. 

Sergio is research fellow at the Earth and Life Institute of UC Louvain (Belgium), biologist by training he now works chiefly on Gaian systems from an organizational perspective inspired by biological autonomy and (M-R)-systems.

IAS-Research Talk by Igor Ahedo Gurrutxaga (EHU/UPV), “La naturaleza participativa: Biología y neurología para recuperar el curso de la re-evolución”

On May 17th, 2022, at 11:30

To participate, please contact perezverdugo.marta@gmail.com

ABSTRACT:

Enfrentarse al neoliberalismo como un arte de gobierno fundamentado en la traslación de las lógicas económicas a las de la vida, obliga a desmontar los marcos interpretativos que desde la biología sitúan falsamente al egoísmo, la agresividad y la competencia como fundamentos de lo humano. Las ciencias naturales están mostrando desde hace dos décadas que en la naturaleza no hay un destino cerrado, que la cooperación es la base de la evolución, y quenuestro cerebro se asienta en la capacidad de ponerse en el lugar del otro, la otra y lo otro. La epigénesis, la etología y la neurología pueden aportar una mirada que muestre que estrategias como la Investigación-Acción-Participación y su apuesta por la activación de la agencia ciudadana no solo no es una “herejía” científica, como postula el positivismo. Al contrario, las propias ciencias “duras” confirman la pertinencia de un acercamiento situado en la realidad, atravesado por la empatía y orientado a la vertebración y la articulación cooperativa.

Así, los procesos participativos, y más concretamente la Investigación Acción Participación pueden interpretarse y defenderse como herramientas que permitan revertir la lógica desevolutiva actual. Encontrar en la naturaleza la ausencia de destino (frente una interpretación errónea de la genética falsamente cimentada en la lógica de la inmutabilidad, que cuestiona laepigénesis) permite negar el mantra del “no hay alternativa”. Comprender la sociabilidad desde la fragilidad de nuestra especie ayuda a trabajar desde los dolores para reconstruir el yo fragmentado por el neoliberalismo, convirtiendo la politización en el primer paso para la reconstrucción de las redes comunitarias. En fin, entender nuestra capacidad empática permite reforzar la búsqueda de un pensamiento colectivo que conforme nosotr@s con agencia.

Bio: Igor Ahedo Gurrutxaga (EHU/UPV

IAS-Research Seminar by Unai Bayon Aranburu (EHU/UPV), “La contracción epistémica: una cara desconocida de la pobreza”

To participate please contact: perezverdugo.marta@gmail.com

On April 5th, 2022, at 11:30

Abstract:

Numerosos estudios señalan que entornos pobres obstruyen el desarrollo de capacidades epistémicas (entre otras). La urgencia de análisis de dicho fenómeno se deriva del hecho de que en las tendencias macroeconómicas actuales en Occidente hacen que las capacidades afectadas sean cada vez más importantes económica y socialmente. Ello implica que esa obstrucción en el desarrollo de capacidades (la contracción epistémica) puede jugar un rol cada vez más importante en la reproducción de la pobreza.

En esta presentación voy a mostrar el camino y los cimientos que ha conducido a la propuesta de este proyecto, el cual está todavía definiéndose. Para ello recorreremos las injusticias epistémicas de Miranda Fricker, parte de la ontología social de Sally Haslanger, y literatura filosófica sobre la pobreza como el Capability Approach de Amartya Sen y Martha Nussbaum. Todo ello con el objetivo de terminar apuntando, por una parte, al fenómeno de la contracción epistémica, sus características más distintivas y su relevancia en el contexto socioeconómico actual, y por otra, al futuro de este proyecto.

Bio: Unai Bayon Aranburu (Donostia, 1996). Investigador predoctoral en el programa de Filosofía, Ciencia y Valores en la UPV/EHU, misma universidad donde cursó el grado de Filosofía y el máster de investigación de Filosofía, Ciencia y Valores. Su proyecto trata de investigar cómo afecta la pobreza en el desarrollo de capacidades cognitivas y qué repercusiones tiene en el contexto socioeconómico actual. Para ello, en su investigación convergen diferentes tradiciones filosóficas: las injusticias epistémicas, el enfoque de las capacidades, el florecimiento humano, ontología social y teorías de capitalismo cognitivo y aceleración social. Los directores de su tesis son Ekai Txapartegi Zumeta y Jon Umerez Urrezola.

IAS-Research Seminar by Guglielmo Militello (EHU/UPV), “The Complexity of Tumor Heterogeneity: Limitations and Challenges of the Pharmacogenomics in Cancer Treatment”

On March 15th, 2022, at 11:30
To participate, please contact perezverdugo.marta@gmail.com


ABSTRACT:


One of the most important current applications of personalized medicine is the study of the correlations between genetic variations and the emergence of tumor phenotypes in specific human groups in order to provide more personalized treatments. In particular, pharmacogenomics aims at studying the relationship between drug response and individual genomic variations. In cancer treatment, however, the overall effectiveness of this gene-based approach is impaired by the genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of tumor cells, thus making the pharmacogenomics in cancer treatment problematic. The purpose of this talk is threefold: first, to analyze the levels of organization of tumor heterogeneity; secondly, to explore the complexity of tumor heterogeneity; finally, to estimate the epistemological and practical consequences of such a complexity for the pharmacogenomics in the personalized cancer treatment.

Bio: Guglielmo Militello (EHU/UPV)

IAS-Research Seminar (online) by Ezequiel Di Paolo (EHU/UPV, Ikerbasque, University of Sussex), “Laying down a forking path: Tensions between enaction and the free energy principle”

On Tuesday, Feb 1st, 2022, at 11:30.
To participate, please contact: perezverdugo.marta@gmail.com
ABSTRACT:

Several authors have made claims about the compatibility between the Free Energy Principle (FEP) and theories of autopoiesis and enaction. Many see these theories as natural partners or as making similar statements about the nature of biological and cognitive systems. We critically examine these claims and identify a series of misreadings and misinterpretations of key enactive concepts. In particular, we notice a tendency to disregard the operational definition of autopoiesis and the distinction between a system’s structure and its organization. Other misreadings concern the conflation of processes of self-distinction in operationally closed systems and Markov blankets. Deeper theoretical tensions underlie some of these misinterpretations. FEP assumes systems that reach a non-equilibrium steady state and are enveloped by a Markov blanket. We argue that these assumptions contradict the historicity of sense-making that is explicit in the enactive approach. Enactive concepts such as adaptivity and agency are defined in terms of the modulation of parameters and constraints of the agent-environment coupling, which entail the possibility of changes in variable and parameter sets, constraints, and in the dynamical laws affecting the system. This allows enaction to address the path-dependent diversity of human bodies and minds. We argue that these ideas are incompatible with the time invariance of non-equilibrium steady states assumed by the FEP. In addition, the enactive perspective foregrounds the enabling and constitutive roles played by the world in sense-making, agency, development. We argue that this view of transactional and constitutive relations between organisms and environments is a challenge to the FEP. Once we move beyond superficial similarities, identify misreadings, and examine the theoretical commitments of the two approaches, we reach the conclusion that far from being easily integrated, the FEP, as it stands formulated today, is in tension with the theories of autopoiesis and enaction.

Full text: https://philosophymindscience.org/index.php/phimisci/article/view/9187

IAS-Research Talk by Manuel Heras-Escribano (University of Granada) “Social normativity, fields of promoted action, and affordances: An integrative view”

On Nov 23rd, 2021, at 11:30.

To participate, please contact: alejandra.mtz.quintero@gmail.com

Abstract:

In this talk, I will show how social normativity, the field of promoted action, and canonical affordances are related. The field of promoted action is a concept proposed by Reed (1996), which is based on the idea that there are affordances emphasized by other people (Reed 1996: 130). Although proposed for the field of developmental psychology and experimentation, I think it is a rich concept to be applied to other fields (like philosophy of mind) to make sense of our everyday experience. But how could we articulate this idea? I propose that my ideas on social normativity (Heras-Escribano 2019) could serve as a framework for showing how the field of promoted action is constituted and present in everyone’s cognitive life. Also, I think the combination of the ideas of social normativity and the field of promoted action can help articulating the origins and nature of canonical affordances from a social perspective.

Bio: Manuel Heras-Escribano (University of Granada)

New (6-month) post-doc position

A new position is open for a 6-month full-time post-doc contract at IAS-Research.

Deadine for application: June 11th (2021).

The contract will extend from July 1st to December 31st (2021).

Among other documents, the interested candidates should present:

  1. PhD title
  2. Updated CV
  3. Motivation letter (max. 2p.)
  4. Language titles (English & Basque) — if you have any.

More details on the application procedure (please, read carefully and follow the instructions):

https://www.ehu.eus/es/web/iip/-/conv_pers_invest_01_06_2021

In additon, please, let us know that you are applying through an e-mail message to kepa.ruiz-mirazo@ehu.eus, including the CV and the motivation letter presented.

IAS-Research Seminar by Izar Agirresarobe-Pineda (EHU/UPV) and Iñigo R. Arandia (EHU/UPV)

To participate, please contact: alejandra.mtz.quintero@gmail.com

On May 18, 2021, at 11:30. This session consists of three small talks:

 

Izar Agirresarobe-Pineda (EHU/UPV) and Iñigo R. Arandia (EHU/UPV)

  1. “Placebo, addictions, and the interplay between pre-reflective and reflective activity”

Background: Placebo and addictive phenomena share a controversy between reflective volition and uncontrollable bodily responses. Motivated by the conscious/nonconscious divide, they also share explanations in terms of (conscious) expectations and (nonconscious) conditioning. However, this dichotomy is problematic: it assumes a passive mechanistic account of bodies difficult to extrapolate beyond controlled experimental settings, and it renders the nonconscious as an almost inaccessible black-box.

Methods: We assess empirical evidence and theoretical explanations on placebo and addictive phenomena employing the dynamic interplay between pre-reflective (more implicit and automatized) and reflective (more explicit and controllable) aspects of agency derived from embodied cognitive science. We take the intersubjective domain as constitutive of experience, following the notion of “ontological intimacy” developed by philosopher Kym Maclaren.

Results: The pre-reflective/reflective interplay allows to investigate the influence of habits and other interrelated behavioral patterns, personal narratives, and a variety of tacit interactive elements (body language, speech tone, moods, atmospheres) that are fundamental to understand placebo phenomena and addictive behavior. Social interactions, including therapeutic encounters, cannot be reduced to exchanges of information that shape expectations only in a reflective manner. Social encounters always affect (positively or negatively) the ongoing constitution of our personhood in pre-reflective and reflective ways.

Conclusions: We suggest placebo and addictive phenomena should be investigated as meaningful interactive experiences involving a dynamic interplay between pre-reflective and reflective activity. This interplay, capturing essential sensorimotor and intersubjective influences, offers more flexibility than the conscious/nonconscious dichotomy. These categories might also provide insights for other conditions such as phobias or traumas.

Iñigo R. Arandia (UPV/EHU)

2. “Placebo from an Enactive Perspective”

Background: A set of problematic assumptions pervades research into placebo effects. These include various kinds of dualisms (physiology/psychology, object/subject, known/knower), and tendencies towards reductive explanations based on passive individuals and mechanistic conceptions of the body.
Methods: We review an alternative theoretical framework in embodied cognitive science that rejects these assumptions—the enactive approach to life and mind—and evaluate the conceptual tools it offers for placebo research. We overview enactive concepts such as dimensions of embodiment, agency, and sense-making. We also introduce the ontology of individuation developed by Gilbert Simondon to offer a processual account of placebo phenomena.
Results: Based on empirical evidence, we interpret placebo interventions not as originating causal chains, but as triggers in the regulation of existing tensions between bodily and interpersonal processes. These processes involve looping effects through three intertwined dimensions of embodiment: organic, sensorimotor, and intersubjective. From this perspective, placebo responses are individuation processes triggered to regulate ongoing tensions in biopsychosocial processes. We defend the need to investigate therapeutic interactions in terms of participatory sense-making, going beyond the identification of individual social traits that modulate placebo effects to the investigation of patterns and kinds of social interaction.
Conclusions: We offer enactive proposals to overcome limiting assumptions common in placebo research and clinical practice, and discuss their resonances and differences with traditional explanations in terms of expectations and conditioning, and other approaches based on meaning responses and phenomenological/ecological ideas.

Iñigo R. Arandia (UPV/EHU)

3. “Social Interaction and Not Just Social Skills Affect Placebo Phenomena”

Background: Placebo effects are not predictable nor easily manipulable at an individual level. We suggest that a poor understanding of individual experiences and of social interactions contributes to discrepancies between placebo as robust group effects, and individual variability. Social influences on placebo are considered as external factors to be controlled for. The focus is on individual social traits, reducing the complex interactive experience to personal expectations, personality traits, motivational goals, or beliefs, downplaying interactive aspects such as patterns of coordination, asymmetries, and dissonances.
Methods: Following the enactive concept of participatory sense-making, we propose that a kind of interactive autonomy emerges in the therapeutic encounter, constituting a third element that depends on both patient and practitioner but is not controllable by either. Social interaction cannot be reduced to information transmission shaped by individual characteristics (empathy, trust, warmth).
Results: A successful encounter demands the capacity of relatedness from both sides in order to construct shared meaning and adequately modulate hopes and expectations. The few studies that gather data about interaction dynamics support the hypothesis that engaged forms of participation correlate with placebo effects. This perspective is compatible with the ‘placebo by proxy’ hypothesis and can account for evidence showing the impact of parental expectations on placebo effects in children.
Conclusions: Looking at phenomenological, anthropological and biomedical research, we show the necessity to investigate concrete situated and interactive experiences to gain generalization ability. Enactive theory bridges the gap between placebo effects measured at the group level and variability at the individual level.

Bio: Izar Agirresarobe-Pineda (EHU/UPV) and Iñigo R. Arandia (EHU/UPV)

IAS-Research Talk Jo Bervoets (University of Antwerp), “Making sense of Tourettic sensibility (the joy of being let be?) “

On April 27, 2021, at 11:30.

To participate, please contact: guglielmo.militello@ehu.eus

Abstract: Tourettic tics are typically socially received as problematic and nonsensical. But there is a tension between this fact, and how individuals with Tourette’s make sense of their world. I resolve this tension by bridging phenomenological and post-phenomenological thinking via the concept of participatory sense-making. In doing so, I interpret Gilbert Simondon’s becoming of the individual being as participatory sense-making between the human and the non-human. I propose to view the Tourettic difference as an example of a particular way of being that becomes problematic only if it is not ‘let be,’ and as a prototype of playfulness when it is ‘let be’. In line with Simondon, the ethical primacy of our relational openness to such difference is seen as prerequisite of knowledge creation. In fact, I – provocatively – argue that ‘being human entails being mentally ill’ insofar as a deviation from social norms forms the precondition for the continued becoming of human knowledge. I tie dogmatic blocking of this becoming to ‘arrogant perception’ as elaborated by María Lugones. My talk is an outcome of a ‘virtual’ research visit with Hanne De Jaegher & Diana Beljaars, specialists in enaction/participatory sense-making and in post-phenomenolog/Tourette’s respectively.

Bio: Jo Bervoets holds Masters in Philosophy, in Cognitive Sciences and in Sciences (Electronic Engineering). He worked for 25 years in the technology sector. After a burn-out, Jo was diagnosed with autism in 2017. To get back on track he pursued his lifelong obsession with philosophy graduating in ’18. Jo wrote his master’s thesis, published as “Going beyond the Catch-22 of autism diagnosis and research”, on the moral implications of asking “What is autism?”. He is currently a PhD researcher in the ERC project NeuroEpigenEthics with a specific focus on Tourette’s.

Mark Canciani’s PhD defense

Title: “Biological altruism, eusociality and the superorganism: a critical analysis of the role of biological altruism within eusociality research”

Time: 12/03/2020, 11:00

Place: Sala de Grados, Facultad de Educación, Filosofía y Antropología