The need for a substantive subject and enactivism
Keywords:enactivism, subjectivity, dualism, naturalism
Enactivism, or the enactive approach, constitutes an important attempt to overcome substance dualism. By including the mind in the more elementary but also wider topic of life, and understanding living beings in rapport to the milieu where they live, it contributes to avoid an exaggerated abstraction in our comprehension of mind and life. Such abstract thinking would lead to understand the human mind as an isolated subject, at most in relationship with an organism and an environment that remain external to its nature. However, in order to achieve an adequate theorization of the nature of mind two notions seem problematic: structural coupling, the true thread of enactivism, and the understanding of cognition as a form of behavior according to norms enacted by the living being itself on the basis of its autonomy. The operational closure of the living being could be understood as the emergence of an autopoietic and self-referential process, as an emergent dynamic form that seeks to conserve itself exchanging materials with the environment. A first level of self would thus be obtained, a self-referred organization. But in its self-reference, the human mind grasps itself as a single and stable subject of a plurality of acts, and certainly not as the dynamic unity of an organic system. If it were structurally a dynamic process, it could not be present to itself, continuously escaping from its attention. There is then in the mind a completely different sense of self and of unity, a more robust one. To be consistent, the overcoming of naturalism cannot neglect this phenomenological datum, which bears great metaphysical import. Besides, the need of a correct relationship between the notions of form and subject is thereby proposed in more current terms.