EGENIS seminar series: "Cognitive Science Goes Green: The Quest for Plant Intelligence", Prof Paco Calvo (University of Murcia)

Egenis seminar series

An Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences seminar
Date23 November 2020
Time15:30 to 17:00
PlaceOnline event. Joining instructions to follow.

Cognitive science provides the means to make headway in the quest for plant intelligence. Contrary to common belief, plants are not merely acted upon; they rather take action autonomously according to their own needs. Plants are intelligent insofar as they behave adaptively, flexibly, anticipatorily, and in a goal-directed manner. Plausibly, to do so, self-propelled mobility is needed—although, unlike animal locomotion, plant movement takes the form of growth and development. With that being said, being rooted, plants need to be much more distributed and decentralized than animals. Unfortunately, the default understanding of the relation between mobility and cognition is by resorting to an information-processing paradigm.

At MINTLab we re-situate the quest for plant intelligence into a broader approach in cognitive science, as represented by embodied, enactive and ecological schools of thought. Plant science can graft onto these investigations and benefit from integrating their theoretical and methodological paradigms. Many aspects of cognition have more to do with the type of body one has, and with the way one ecologically interacts with its local surroundings, rather than with inferential capacities. On the other hand, the evolution of sentience has become a hot topic of research in recent years and the cognitive sciences cannot rule out non-animal forms of life having structures that promote awareness. My talk explores the very possibility and consequences of plant sentience. This approach may ultimately bear upon our understanding of life and cognition more broadly, reaching all the way from single cell organisms to human beings, including plants.

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