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.

IAS-Talk by Çağlar Karaca (Kastamonu University): “Relational Basis of the Organism’s Self-organization”

Relational Basis of the Organism’s Self-organization

Çağlar Karaca 

Thursday 5 March at 11:15 Centro Carlos Santamaria (B14)


In this thesis, I discuss the organism’s self-organization from the perspective of relational ontology. I critically examine scientific and philosophical sources that appeal to the concept of self-organization. By doing this, I aim to carry out a thorough investigation into the underlying reasons of emergent order within the ontogeny of the organism. Moreover, I focus on the relation between universal dynamics of organization and the organization of living systems. I provide a historical review of the development of modern ideas related to self-organization. These ideas have been developed in relation to various research areas including thermodynamics, molecular biology, developmental biology, systems theory, and so on. In order to develop a systematic understanding of the concept, I propose a conceptual distinction between transitional self-organization and regulative self-organization. The former refers to the spontaneous emergence of order, whereas the latter refers to the self-maintaining characteristic of the living systems. I show the relation between these two types of organization within biological processes. I offer a critical analysis of various theories within the organizational approach. Several ideas and notions in these theories originate from the early studies in cybernetics. More recently, autopoiesis and the theory of biological autonomy asserted certain claims that were critical toward the ideas related to self-organization. I advocate a general theory of self-organization against these criticisms. I also examine the hierarchical nature of the organism’s organization, as this is essential to understand regulative self-organization. I consider the reciprocal relation between bottom-up and top-down dynamics of organization as the basis of the organism’s individuation. To prove this idea, I appeal to biological research on molecular self-assembly, pattern formation (including reaction-diffusion systems), and the self-organized characteristic of the immune system. Finally, I promote the idea of diachronic emergence by drawing support from biological self-organization. I discuss the ideas related to constraints, potentiality, and dynamic form in an attempt to reveal the emergent nature of the organism. To demonstrate the dynamicity of form, I examine research into biological oscillators. I draw the following conclusions: synchronic condition of the organism is irreducibly processual and relational, and this is the basis of the organism’s potentiality for various organizational states.

IAS-Research Talk by Tim Klaassen (Tilburg University): “Enactivism and the Foundations of Ethics: Some Suggestions on How to Bring the Two Together”

Enactivism and the Foundations of Ethics: Some Suggestions on How to Bring the Two Together

Tim Klaassen (Tilburg University)

Tuesday 4 February at 11.30 Centro Carlos Santamaria (B14)


Can we utilize enactivism as a framework for understanding the foundations of normativity in the moral and political domain? In this talk I suggest a broad outline of an affirmative answer. To begin with, I show, relying on Korsgaard’s “constitutivist” account of the principles of practical reason, that normative standards within the moral domain can be shown to have their source in a moral agent’s distinct mode of autopoiesis. A moral agent is an agent endowed with a specific type of self-consciousness. Because of this, they have a certain degree of freedom in deciding which sensorimotor contingencies they shall adopt to govern their interaction with the environment. As a corollary to this, the world that such agents bring forth, and the kinds of action it affords, comes to have a distinctively moral significance. In the second part of my talk I explore the question of whether, in addition to this kind of “moral enaction” there is also something like a distinctively political form of world-enactment. That is, is there something distinctive about the manner in which institutions are enacted? Relying on the ideas of Hans-Georg Gadamer, I formulate a provisional affirmative answer to this question via the notion of tradition. On this account, tradition is a distinctive and irreducibly social form of enaction through which a world of socio-political institutions is brought forth. Even if this can be established, however, the challenge remains to see whether any normative conclusions can be drawn from it.

Reading Group on Simondon

This reading group will be devoted to the work “L’individuation a la lumiere des notions de forme et d’information” of Gilbert Simondon. The aim is to understand the basic concepts of the philosophy of individuation, such as the pre-individual, transduction and physical, vital, psychic and collective individuations in order to analyze its compatibility with and contributions to the enactive conception of cognition. Although most of the readings will be in Spanish, the sessions will run in English.

Time and Location:

Tuesdays at 14h at the room B14 of Santamaría Center


  • Introduction
  • Simondon and Enactivism
    • I. vital, I.2. Niveles sucesivos de individuación: vital, psíquico y transindividual (p.200-204)
  • About vital individuation, interiority and transduction in living beings.
    • I. vital, IV.5. Topología y ontogénesis (p.285-292).
    • I. vital IV.1. Noción de una problemática ontogenética (p.256-262)
  • Reproduction:
    • I. vital, II.2. El individuo como polaridad. Individuo y reproducción. Indiferenciación y desdiferenciación… (p.210-236)
  • Perception:
    • About the colective individuation: p273-278
    • Perception in vital individuation: p.265-266
    • Perception in psychic individuation: p.305-310
  • Afectivity:
    •  I. Psíquica.II.4. Lo transindividual (p.316-322)
    • I. Psíquica.II.6. La problemática afectiva. (p.325-332)
    • Heredia (2015)
  • The body:
    • I. Psíquica, III.3. Individuación, individualización y personalización. El bisustancialismo (p. 338-346)
    • I. Psíquica. III.6. Necesidad de ontogénesis psiquica (p.363)
  • The transindividual:
    • Section I and II of the transindividual (p.371-p.403)
    • Problematica de la reflexividad en la individuacion (p.350-363)
  • Knowledge and epistemology:
    • Bardin (2012) Chapter 4. Subject and method of a philosophy of individuation
  • Information:
    • Bardin (2012) Chapter 2. Reforming the concepts of Form and Information


Simondon, G. (2014). La individuación a la luz de las nociones de forma y de información. Cactus.

Heredia, J. M. (2012). Los conceptos de afectividad y emoción en la filosofía de Gilbert Simondon. Revista de humanidades, (26), 51-75.

Bardin, A. (2015). Epistemology and political philosophy in gilbert simondon: Individuation, technics, social systems. Springer.

Evolution and the embodied mind: The biological roots of 4E cognition

This workshop aims to gather researchers in Evolution and 4E Cognition in order to evaluate which are the complementarities and tensions between these two approaches.
The topics of the workshop will include (although will not be restricted to) the following ones:
  1. Minimal cognition from a 4E perspective,
  2.  Embodied and situated approaches to the evolution of cognition,
  3.  The role of sociality in cognitive evolution from a 4E perspective


City: Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain).

Date: 12, 13 & 14 July, 2019.

Venue: Ignacio María Barriola Building ( Elhuyar Square, 1), University of the Basque Country. 3rd Floor, Room 3.2.


Download the program here with this link: Program2


Glenda Satne, Daniel D. Hutto, Tony Chemero, Paco Calvo, Xabier Barandiaran, Tom Froese, Jim Clavel, Vicente Raja, Miguel Segundo.
The workshop is organized by Manuel Heras-Escribano and Ezequiel Di Paolo (IAS Research Centre for Life, Mind, and Society, EHU-UPV) and generously funded by the BBVA Foundation through the 2018 Leonardo Grant for Researchers and Cultural Creators entitled “The philosophy of affordances: The ecological, evolutionary, and social origins of cognition [AFFORDEVOCOG]”

IAS-Research talk by Maria Jimena Clavel (University of St. Andrews): “Embodying imagination “

Date and time: July 2, Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.

Location: Carlos Santamaría Building, Room B14.

Speaker: Maria Jimena Clavel (University of St. Andrews)

Title: Embodying imagination


This piece is part of a larger project that aims at showing that imagination is constrained as a consequence of its embodied character and that explores the consequences of that thesis in our engagement with art and in our social interactions. Traditionally, we think of imagination as a paradigmatic case of offline cognition, i.e. cognitive endeavors that do not directly involve real-time adaptive interactions with our surroundings. In this piece we challenge this more traditional understanding of imagination and argue that exercises of imagination are embodied. We examine two embodied approaches to imagination that can be found in the literature: a radical enactive approach (see Hutto 2006, Medina 2013) and a predictive approach to imagination (see Kirchhoff 2017); and what it means for imagination to be embodied from the perspective of these two approaches. From the perspective of the first approach, our imaginative engagements are a re-enactment of our interactions with the environment and are better understood by referring to agent-world dynamics. From the perspective of the second approach, imagination is supported by the same predictive mechanism that supports perception. Here we explore the possibility of a middle ground between these two positions in what concerns imagination, and the notion of embodiment that stems from it. Importantly, one consequence of this approach is that imagination is constrained by its embodied character.

Reading group on Evolution and Cognition


1. Objectives: 

  • Introduce basic notions of evolutionary biology and physiology of the nervous system.
  • Understand current discussion on the evolution of human cognition.
  • Discuss the role of the interaction between organism and environment in the evolution of the nervous system.

2. Format

Eleven reading seminars lasting 1.5h around different authors and topics that aim to explain the evolution of the nervous system and cognition in human beings. In each session, one participant will shortly (20min) present the topic in order to facilitate the discussion. After every session, this participant will prepare a summary of the discussion. The final transcript will be evaluated for feedback by the coordinator.

3. Schedule, topics, and readings

Seminars will take place from January to June 2019, on alternate Thursdays from 15:00 to 16:30h, open to online and in-person participation at the Carlos Santamaría Center Seminar 14.

Session Date Topic Bibliography
1. January, 10 Introduction Moreno, A., & Lasa, A. (2003). From basic adaptivity to early mind. Evolution and Cognition, 9(1).

Rosslenbroich, B. (2014). On the origin of autonomy: a new look at the major transitions in evolution (Vol. 5). Springer Science & Business Media. Chapters 8, 10.1 y 10.2

2. January, 24 Evolution of the nervous system I. Dynamic Systems Barandiaran, X., & Moreno, A. (2006). On what makes certain dynamical systems cognitive: A minimally cognitive organization program. Adaptive Behavior, 14(2), 171-185.
3. February, 7 Evolution of the nervous system II. Plant and animal cognition Calvo Garzón, P., & Keijzer, F. (2011). Plants: Adaptive behavior, root-brains, and minimal cognition. Adaptive Behavior, 19(3), 155-171.

Keijzer, F. (2015). Moving and sensing without input and output: Early nervous systems and the origins of the animal sensorimotor organization. Biology & Philosophy, 30, 311–331

4. February, 21 Evolution and Agency Barandiarán, X. (2008). Mental Life. A naturalized approach to the autonomy of cognitive agents. [Thesis Capítulos 5 y 6]
5. 7 March The 4 dimensions of evolution Jablonka, E., & Lamb, M. J. (2007). Précis of evolution in four dimensions. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(4), 353-365.
6. March, 21 Cognitive functions: working memory and the frontal lobe Damasio, El error de Descartes. capítulos 2,3 y 4.

Frederick L. Coolidge, Thomas Wynn. 2009.The Rise of Homo Sapiens, The Evolution of Modern Thinking [capítulo 3]

7. April, 4 Evolution and reproduction Gruss, L. T., & Schmitt, D. (2015). The evolution of the human pelvis: changing adaptations to bipedalism, obstetrics and thermoregulation. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 370(1663), 20140063.
8. April, 18 Cultural Evolution I Portin, P. (2015). A comparison of biological and cultural evolution. Journal of genetics, 94(1), 155-168.

Lewens, T. (2015). Cultural evolution: conceptual challenges. OUP Oxford (capítulo 1)

9. May, 2 Cultural Evolution II Dunbar, R. I. (2009). The social brain hypothesis and its implications for social evolution. Annals of human biology, 36(5), 562-572.

Laland, K., Matthews, B., & Feldman, M. W. (2016). An introduction to niche construction theory. Evolutionary ecology, 30(2), 191-202.

10. May, 16 Evolution and 4E Cognition Barrett, L. The evolution of cognition: a 4E perspective. The Oxford Handbook of 4e Cognition. New York: Oxford UP.

Malafouris, L. Bringing things to mind. In The Oxford Handbook of 4E Cognition.

11. May, 30
Congress July, 10-14 4E Cognition Theories

4. Coordination and more information

In order to join the reading group or request further information, please contact the coordinators:

Enara Garcia (enara.garcia.otero@gmail.com)

Guglielmo Militello (guglielmo.militello@ehu.eus)

Alejandra Martínez Quintero (alejandra.mtz.quintero@gmail.com)

Graduate Workshop on Philosophy of Science / Seminario de Investigación en Filosofía de la Ciencia

Date and time: March 9, Friday, 9:00 – 13:30

Location: ”Sala de Juntas” (Facultad de Educación, Filosofía y Antropología, EHU/UPV)

Opening: Alba Amilburu (EHU-UPV, IAS-Research) & Cristian Saborido (UNED)

Speakers: Alejandra Martínez Quintero (EHU-UPV), Giorgio Airoldi (UNED), Guglielmo Militello (EHU-UPV), Emilio Cáceres Vázquez (UNED)

Program: Graduate Workshop on Philosophy of Science1

“Evolvability as a dispositional property”

Seminar on Tuesday, 14th of February at 11:15am at the Carlos Santamaria (IAS room, B14)

Laura Nuño de la Rosa: “Evolvability as a dispositional property”

Evolvability, or the ability of biological systems to evolve, is usually taken to be a cornerstone of evo-devo and, more generally, of the so-called Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. In the last years, evolutionary biologists have made several efforts to define evolvability, and philosophers of biology have shown an increasing interest in understanding the dispositional nature of this concept. In this talk, I will explore the philosophical consequences associated to two major conceptual tensions permeating current definitions of evolvability. The first concerns the relationship between variability and adaptability. While some authors define evolvability as the capacity of biological systems to vary, evolvability is mostly seen as the capacity to vary in an adaptive way, excluding the capacity of a system for producing deleterious mutations as a part of the ability to evolve. The idea that the ability to adapt can evolve has been charged with suggesting a teleological view of evolution, insofar as natural selection cannot adapt a population for future contingencies. I will explore the existing solutions to this dilemma and will argue that evolvability can be defined in a functional sense without invoking teleology. The second conceptual tension among the existing definitions of evolvability concerns the very subject of evolvability. While most philosophers of biology agree that evolvability can only be a property of populations, I will argue that biologists are right in defining evolvability as a capacity of biological systems that apply to different levels of organization. Finally, I will explore the role of extrinsic (environmental) factors in the determination of evolvability, and argue that the context-sensitivity of evolvability does not challenge its intrinsicality.