EP 191 Alicia Juarrero on Context, Constraints, and Coherence

Jim talks with Alicia Juarrero about her new book Context Changes Everything: How Constraints Create Coherence. They discuss Aristotle’s four causes, applying them to complex dynamical systems, the overfocus on efficient cause, naive Newtonianism, nothing-but-ism, reconceptualizing causality in terms of constraints, mereology, constraint regimes, ascribing causal powers to emergent properties, the roots of panpsychism, Searle’s comparison of consciousness with digestion, kinds of constraints, the Dysons’ notion of analog control, why analog is more efficient, identity as a set of interdependent constraints, surface vs deep dyslexia & early neural nets, the work of Geoffrey Hinton, the species competitive exclusion principle, cardinality vs ordinality, the social evolution of cassava, Rayleigh-Benard convection, dissipative systems, Alicia’s disagreement with Michael Polanyi, the architecture of the circulatory system, scaffolding, top-down causality, many-to-one transitions, degeneracy, pluripotentiality, the ship of Theseus, 4E cognitive science, and much more.

Alicia Juarrero, Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Prince George’s Community College (MD), is the author of Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System (MIT 1999) and co-editor of Reframing Complexity: Perspectives from North and South (ISCE Publishing, 2007), and Emergence, Self-Organization and Complexity: Precursors and Prototypes (ISCE Publishing, 2008).