587 years before the Gutenberg Bible was printed, the Dunhuang scroll was printed using an already mature woodblock technique.  The text printed was the Diamond Sutra.  In a surprisingly contemporary manner, the text comes with this attempt to be available:

Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 15th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [11 May 868].

Perhaps a text such as this would make a good discussion point.

If we can articulate a goal, which is tantamount to recognizing a behaviour that fulfils that goal, then we can probably define, or create, a mechanism that achieves that goal, to within some tolerable error of observation.  But not all that happens is teleological.  When we say that we can provide a mechanistic explanation of an avalanche, there is the exchange of energy, but there is no goal, nothing to replicate, and no underlying mechanism.

We see mechanisms in coordinative systems.  We also see them (I suspect) in Gibsonian perception/action machines.  We bring them into being through the constraints of the experimental psychologists laboratory.

So the question necessarily arises: whose goals are we talking about?  Mechanisms, or purposes, are probably necessary to identify the elements for whom the question of natural selection arises.  The common structures of memetics and Darwinianism may point to commonality.  Whose goals?

Enaction seems to provide a good language for talking about this important question.

I’m reading Latour’s Inquiry into Modes of Existence, about which more anon (if I ever figure it out).  Latour’s approach demands a bountiful almost unbridled metaphysics.  I like it, and fail to understand it, at the same time.

And I’m watching Kelso contribute to a debate about the origin of movement, or the notion of agency.  Kelso makes the surprising suggestion that the fundamental unit of analysis to understand animate movement is the synergy, and that that should replace the reflex arc, which should make John Dewey happy.

I’d like to join these two dots.  Latour’s menagerie is richer and more varied than the theory of coordination dynamics can ever reach, but it lacks any kind of rigour.  And yet, a problem I, and many others, have had with coordination dynamics is that the full rigour of the approach, with nice equations and quantifiable degrees of freedom and such, all that is only available for periodic components.  Oscillators, if you will.  And I have long ago objected to building a model up on the basis of oscillators.  For they are clocks, and biological beings have no clocks.