BSP Podcast: Darian Meacham – BioEnactivism, Phenomenology and Cognitive Biology

podcast update

The BSP podcast launches with two of the keynote presentations from the BSP Annual Conference in 2016: here’s the second…

Season 1 episode 2: 10 October 2016

This recording is of Darian Meacham’s keynote presentation ‘Phenomenology of Technology: How Low Can You Go? BioEnactivism, Phenomenology and Cognitive Biology’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Darian Meacham is a lecturer in philosophy at UWE, Bristol and from October 2016 will join the philosophy department at Maastricht University, Netherlands. He also works with BrisSynBio, a Synthetic Biology Research Centre based at University of Bristol, as the researcher in ethics of technology and ‘responsible innovation’. Some recent projects include Maine de Biran, The Relationship Between the Physical and the Moral in Man (Bloomsbury 2016) and Thinking After Europe: Jan Patočka and Politics (Rowman and Littlefield 2016), with Francesco Tava. He is currently also working on a project concerning automation, basic income and work, and has recently written for on the topic.

Abstract: “The branch of enactive philosophy known as bio-enactivism seek to extend enactivist analyses of embodied cognition to the field of the living per se, such that enactive sense-making becomes not only the fundamental characteristic of mind, but also of life (Thompson 2007, 2011; Di Paolo 2009; De Jesus 2015, 2016). These philosophers insist upon a ‘strong mind life continuity thesis.’ In short, mind is a continuation or development of activity – an inflationary notion of cognizing – that is found in all life. There remains in this work a strong emphasis on subjectivity and a ‘whole organism approach.’ By looking at recent research in cognitive biology and protocell construction, I pose the question of how far down embodied cognition really goes? Can we talk about embodied cognition at the level of individual proteins? And if so, are we still talking about the same thing as enactivists do when they talk about human cognition. I argue that in order to make a substantial argument about the relation between life and mind, enactivism needs to be supported by an ontology similar to what we find in instances of a-subjective phenomenology and French biophilosophy.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK during September, 2016. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.