I will be leading the discussion for a Life and Mind seminar at the University of Sussex tomorrow. Announcement and abstract below:
The third Life and Mind seminar of the summer term will be held tomorrow, Wednesday the 2nd of May, at 16:00 in room Pev1 1A01 (note room and time change). Tom will be leading a discussion on:
Is autopoiesis necessary for consciousness?
A living system can be distinguished in two non-intersecting phenomenal domains, namely 1) as a collection of components and their relationships (i.e. its physiology) in the constitutive domain, and 2) as a unity and its relationships to other unities (i.e. its behavior) in the behavioral domain.
There is general agreement in the autopoietic tradition that consciousness is a relational phenomenon that pertains to the behavioral domain. However, this creates a potential tension with the claim that autopoiesis in the constitutive domain (i.e. metabolic self-production) is a necessary condition for consciousness.
I propose that one way to resolve this issue is by distinguishing between phenomenal and behavioral consciousness, even though this opens up the theoretical possibility of philosophical “zombies”.