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The Embodied MindCognitive Science and Human Experience$
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Francisco J. Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262529365

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262529365.001.0001

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Evolutionary Path Making and Natural Drift

Evolutionary Path Making and Natural Drift

Chapter:
(p.185) 9 Evolutionary Path Making and Natural Drift
Source:
The Embodied Mind
Author(s):

Francisco J. Varela

Evan Thompson

Eleanor Rosch

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262529365.003.0009

This chapter demonstrates how unique histories of structural coupling can be understood from the vantage point of evolution. To this end, it provides a critique of the adaptationist view of evolution as a process of progressive fitness, and articulates an alternative view of evolution as natural drift. These unique histories of coupling, which enact incommensurable kinds of “color space,” should not be explained as optimal adaptations to different regularities in the world. Instead, they should be explained as the result of different histories of natural drift. Moreover, since organism and environment cannot be separated but are in fact codetermined in evolution as natural drift, the environmental regularities that one associates with these various color spaces must ultimately be specified in tandem with the perceptually guided activity of the animal.

Keywords:   adaptation, adaptionism, structural coupling, evolution, natural drift, environmental regularities, guided activity

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