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Gontier Nathalie | Fellow Postdoctoral
2008-02-01 - 2009-01-31 | Research area: EvoDevo
Epistemologizing evolutionary theories: Redefining evolutionary epistemology
At present, three observations concerning Evolutionary Epistemology can be made: 1. The evolutionizing of epistemology and cognition has for the most part taken place in a selectionist framework of evolution. 2. Evolutionary Epistemology that works within a selectionist framework goes beyond the study of merely epistemology and cognition for it contains a variety of different topics including memetics, culture, the brain, language, etc. 3. Because of the advances made in (1) and (2), the epistemologizing of evolutionary theories other than natural selection has been for the most part neglected by researchers. Since the selectionist turn has turned out to be so successful in biological and extra-biological fields alike, it could be extremely productive if we were to (re)turn to these neglected evolutionary theories (cfr. 3) and see how they might contribute further to the study of cognition on the one hand, and on the other to the study of language, culture, the brain and so on. Pursuing this goal would, for the most part, imply a redefinition of evolutionary epistemology as a discipline, where not only cognition and epistemology, but also a variety of other phenomena can be understood from within a wide spectrum of epistemologized evolutionary theories. In order to accomplish this goal, basically two questions need to be asked: 1. How can we epistemologize non-selectionist approaches such as the serial endosymbiotic theory of evolution, punctuated equilibrium, drift, epigenetics, and systems theory, to name only the most pertinent alternative and complementary views of the Modern Synthesis? 2. To which phenomena can these epistemologized evolutionary theories be applied besides epistemology and cognition?