Autopoietic enactivism, phenomenology and the deep continuity between life and mind

De Jesus, Paulo. 2016. Autopoietic enactivism, phenomenology and the deep continuity between life and mind. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 15(2), pp. 265-289. ISSN 1568-7759 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

In their recent book Radicalizing Enactivism. Basic minds without content, Dan Hutto and Erik Myin (H&M) make two important criticisms of what they call autopoietic enactivism (AE). These two criticisms are that AE harbours tacit representationalists commitments and that it has too liberal a conception of cognition. Taking the latter claim as its main focus, this paper explores the theoretical underpinnings of AE in order to tease out how it might respond to H&M. In so doing it uncovers some reasons which not only appear to warrant H&M’s initial claims but also seem to point to further uneasy tensions within the AE framework. The paper goes beyond H&M by tracing the roots of these criticisms and apparent tensions to phenomenology and the role it plays in AE’s distinctive conception of strong life-mind continuity. It is highlighted that this phenomenological dimension of AE contains certain unexamined anthropomorphic and anthropogenic leanings which do not sit comfortably within its wider commitment to life-mind continuity. In light of this analysis it is suggested that AE will do well to rethink this role or ultimately run the risk of remaining theoretically unstable. The paper aims to contribute to the ongoing theoretical development of AE by highlighting potential internal tensions within its framework which need to be addressed in order for it to continue to evolve as a coherent paradigm.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Anthropocentrism, Anthropomorphism, Anthropogenic stance, Autopoietic enactivism, Enactivism, Hans Jonas, Phenomenology, Radically enactive cognitive science, Strong life-mind continuity thesis

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



1 February 2015Published Online
June 2016Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Feb 2015 15:10

Last Modified:

15 Apr 2021 13:00

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)