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First principles in the life sciences: The free-energy principle, organicism, and mechanism

Colombo, Matteo and Wright, Cory (2017) First principles in the life sciences: The free-energy principle, organicism, and mechanism. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The free-energy principle claims that biological systems behave adaptively maintaining their physical integrity only if they minimize the free energy of their sensory states. Originally proposed to account for perception, learning, and action, the free-energy principle has been applied to the evolution, development, morphology, and function of the brain, and has been called a “postulate,” a “mandatory principle,” and an “imperative.” While it might afford a theoretical foundation for understanding the complex relationship between physical environment, life, and mind, its epistemic status and scope are unclear. Also unclear is how the free-energy principle relates to prominent theoretical approaches to life science phenomena, such as organicism and mechanicism. This paper clarifies both issues, and identifies limits and prospects for the free-energy principle as a first principle in the life sciences.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Colombo, Matteom.colombo@uvt.nl
Wright, Corycory.wright@csulb.edu
Keywords: adaptation; free energy; life; mechanism; organicism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Cory Wright
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 16:13
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 16:13
Item ID: 14770
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: 2017
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14770

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