IAS-Research Seminar by Enara Garcia (EHU/UPV), “Towards a process perspective of psychopathology “


The next meeting of the IAS Seminar will take place next Thursday, March 16th, with a talk by Enara Garcia:

Towards a process perspective of psychopathology 
“One of the aspects generally neglected by the DSM categorical system is the temporal variability of mental disorders and their symptoms. Not only individual differences apply to mental disorder categories, but also temporal differences in phases of certain pathologies. For instance, schizophrenic hallucinations are typically preceded by a prodromal phase followed by a post-hallucinatory depression. The dynamics of emergence, persistence and decay of diverse psychopathologies diverge considerably as well. While panic attacks in anxiety disorders are acute and intense phenomena followed by low-intensity chronic stress, depression onsets follow a more inconspicuous and extended-in-time trajectory. Understanding these dynamic differences is relevant for selecting interventions in therapeutic processes. With the aim of elaborating on the process perspective of psychopathology, I will critically review some recent works in complex and dynamical system models of mental disorders, such as network theories, attractor models and time-series analysis on affects.”

The talk will take place at the centro Carlos Santamaria at 4pm, room 4

To participate online, please contact Andrea Gambarotto andrea.gambarotto@uclouvain.be

IAS-Research Seminar by Thomas van Es (EHU/UPV), “Reconceiving the perceptual mind-world relation for enactivism”


On Feb 16th, 2023, at 16:00

To participate, please contact andrea.gambarotto@uclouvain.be


Enactivism is an approach to cognition that centres embodiment and autonomy. In the philosophy of perception, there is a realism-idealism spectrum, with perception of the ‘objective world as it is’ on one end and perception of only internal constructs on the other end. Where enactivism lands on this spectrum continues to be contested. After all, an organism ‘bringing forth a world’ sounds constructivist. Yet this is in tension with enactivism’s anti-representationalist, anti-solipsistic ambitions which may suggest a realist commitment. Here I will argue that enactivism is not idealist, realist or even something in-between. In short, the ‘colouring’ of an organism’s perception through its own activity and interactional history is incompatible with objective realism; yet the sociomaterial understanding of perception as an organism-environment relation is incompatible with idealism. More fundamentally, I propose that the realism-idealism spectrum in perception itself is rooted in a categorical separation between a reified mind and the world. This separation is incompatible with enactivism altogether, thus also ruling out a potential in-between solution. Avoiding eliminativism, I submit that the notion of mind should be reconceived as relational between organism and environment, radically co-constitutive and co-constructivist.
I will proceed as follows. First, I shall provide a brief overview of enactivism, focusing on the notion of sensorimotor autonomy, which captures the self-enabling, self-individuating organisation of clusters of sensorimotor processes like habits. This allows me to say some general things about the notion of ‘mind’ in enactivism, which can be clarified by contrasting it with realism, idealism, and a potential in-between option. I can then contour a positive proposal. Given the autonomous nature of clusters of sensorimotor activities, the encounters of organism and environment — the relations themselves — can be taken to constitute the sensorimotor mind while avoiding the issues of reification. Simultaneously, it is through the plastic changes resulting from these encounters that the organism and environment are and continue to be constructed. Perceptual activity, encompassing organism-environment relations, then, is best understood as self-shaping. I will finish with some of the crucial questions that need more work, like a better understanding of sensorimotor individuation and the nature of the co-constructive processes.

IAS-Research Talk by Gillian Barker (University of Pittsburgh) “Geofunctions: A pragmatic approach to purposes, norms and agency at the planetary scale”

As a follow up to the Gaia and Philosophy Seminar, Dr. Gillian Barker will give an online talk on Thursday the 12th January, at 16h, for the first IAS-Research Talk of 2023.

To participate, please contact Andrea Gambarotto andrea.gambarotto@gmail.com

Many scientists working on global environmental patterns and their disruption are caught in a conceptual double-bind: they find that they need to see Earth as a functional system with normative and teleological dimensions, but long-standing assumptions about science, values, and purposes imply that such thinking is scientifically illegitimate. As a result, functional thinking about global-scale phenomena is expressed vaguely and inconsistently in the form of metaphors and applied frameworks. Similar problems affect thinking that draws on concepts of agency. The costs of this impasse may be high. Where there are patterns in the phenomena that are effectively captured using concepts of function or agency, failure to apply those concepts may lead to avoidable errors in prediction. A pragmatic reorientation, supported by recent developments in philosophy, could enable scientists to overcome this impasse and develop a useful conceptual framework for global-scale functions and agency.

Bio: Gillian Barker (University of Pittsburgh)

IAS-Research Talk by Bruce Clarke (Texas Tech University) “Planetary Intelligence: A Gaian Critique”

On Thursday the 1st December 2022, 16h-18h, Biblioteka Carlos Santamaría, Room 8.
This talk will be part of the two-day seminar “Gaia and Philosophy”, organised by the Outonomy project. See full program and registration form here.


Gaia now confronts us with states of operation and response that threaten long-term habitability for many species. Authored by a strong team of accomplished scholars—astrophysicist Adam Frank, planetary scientist David Grinspoon, and astrobiologist Sara Walker—the recent article “Intelligence as a Planetary Scale Process” probes ideas concerning a viable planetary integration of the technosphere with the biosphere. However, to my mind, the concept of intelligence comes up short in their efforts to integrate planetary biology and technological society. The authors inherit conceptual problems rooted in early SETI discourse, which centers the search for extraterrestrial intelligence on obsolete notions of technological advancement. Also, the discourse of intelligence is not well suited to the dialects of systems theory toward which they turn their enquiry. Their description of planetary intelligence wavers between a control regime and an autonomous process. Moreover, while bringing the idea of planetary intelligence toward the discourse of autopoiesis is a promising move, in this instance it leads to an equivocal blurring of the concept of cognition. Intelligent awareness is certainly one form cognition can take, but cognition also occurs both above and below the level of thought. As I hope to explain in some detail, the conceptual strains of “Intelligence as a Planetary Scale Process” indicate that the preferable, properly Gaian formulation is planetary cognition, a theoretical framing that embeds the technosphere within its biospheric conditions of possibility.


Bruce Clarke, Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020).

Ezequiel A. Di Paolo, “Overcoming Autopoiesis: An Enactive Detour on the Way from Life to Society,” in Advanced Series in Management, eds. R. Magalhães and R. Sanchez (Bingley: Emerald Group, 2010), 43-68.

Adam Frank, David Grinspoon, and Sara Walker, “Intelligence as a Planetary Scale Process” International Journal of Astrobiology 21 (2022): 47–61.

David Grinspoon, Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016).

Chris Otter, “Socializing the Technosphere,” Technology and Culture 63:4 (2022): 953–78.

I. S. Shklovskii and Carl Sagan, Intelligent Life in the Universe (San Francisco: Holden-Day, 1966)

IAS-Research Talk by Carl Sachs (Marymont University), “Strongly Embodied Functionalism: Between Enaction and Functionalism”

On Nov 17th, 2022, at 16:00
To participate, please contact andrea.gambarotto@uclouvain.be
On this occasion, Carl Sachs will present a novel view of functionalism (“strongly embodied functionalism”) in a talk that intersects organizational and enactive approaches, and engages with work by IAS-Research members..

Bio: Carl Sachs (Marymont University)

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.

Workshop: Outonomy – Fleshing out autonomy beyond the individual, 22-24 June

The research project ‘Outonomy: Fleshing out autonomy beyond the individual’ is holding an international workshop in Donostia between the 22nd and the 24th of June. We are pleased to have Dr. William Bechtel and Dr. Glenda Satne as keynote speakers, and 20 communications by international researchers covering a wide range of relevant topics for the project. You can find the full information of the workshop, including the program and book of abstracts, in the outonomy.net website.

IAS-Research Talk by Eduardo Apodaka Ostaikoetxea (EHU/UPV) “Itinerarios del Sujeto: encarnación subjetiva, objetivación institucional, disolución y rearticulación relacional”.

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

June, 14th 2022, at 11:30


El Sujeto como protagonista de la filosofía moderna. La encarnación –cuerpo e individuo– teórica y práctica del sujeto: filosofías del yo creador y dispositivos de subjetivación del yo. La institucionalización del sujeto colectivo –estado y nación–: el nosotros, de substancia a utopía. El sujeto relacional: de la filosofía a las ciencias sociales, de la intersubjetividad a las subjetividades trans-individuales, de garantía del yo-sujeto a la liquidación de la deuda humanista.

IAS-Research Talk by Daniele De Martino (Biofisika Institutua, EHU/UPV), “Searching for principles ruling cell metabolism”

On May 31st, 2022, at 11:30
To participate, please contact perezverdugo.marta@gmail.com

Are there basic principles ruling cell metabolism beyond known physical laws? Is it possible to test them quantitatively? In this talk I will consider two of them: (1) the fact that cell metabolism could work in a “critical” state and (2) the notion that cell metabolism maximizes growth and/or in general has “objective functions” that are optimized under constrained resources. I will criticize these putative principles on the basis of my own work on the inference and measurements of metabolic fluxes. While the first is in contradiction with plain thermodynamics, the other is a useful working hypothesis that shall be revised in the light of unavoidable phenotypic heterogeneity within which a trade-off is established. Heterogeneity in fact endows inter-cellular interactions and in turn, means to control the environment. I will provide the experimental example of lactate shuttles among human cells in this respect.

Bio: Daniele De Martino (Biofisika Institutua, Ikerbasque, EHU/UPV)