Biosemiotics 14 (3):617-624 (2021)

Authors
Miguel Garcia-Valdecasas
Universidad de Navarra
Abstract
Minimal cognition is an emerging field of research in the context of the life-mind continuity thesis. It stems from the idea that life and mind are strongly continuous, involving the same basic set of organisational principles. Minimal cognition has been sometimes regarded as the analysis of the minimum requirements for the emergence of cognitive phenomena. In the target article, Deacon describes the emergence of the autogenic system as an interpreting system that displays the simplest form of interpretive competence, its most critical function being the capacity to re-present itself in ever new substrates and to interpret environmental conditions with respect to system self-maintenance. Since Deacon describes the autogen in cognitive terms, this article examines whether the autogen model can embody the critical disposition that underpins the emergence of minimal cognition. It finds that it does so, but argues that the autogenic system itself fails to be cognitive because it lacks the displacement of constraints that enable the semiotic scaffolding exhibited by life processes. The article then discusses the implications of the idea that autogenic processes underpin the emergence of minimal cognition for the life-mind continuity thesis.
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DOI 10.1007/s12304-021-09457-5
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