Francisco J. Varela

Francisco J. Varela (1946–2001) was Director of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Professor of Cognitive Science and Epistemology, CREA, at the Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, and Cofounder of the Mind and Life Institute.

  • The Embodied Mind, Revised Edition

    The Embodied Mind, Revised Edition

    Cognitive Science and Human Experience

    Francisco J. Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch

    A new edition of a classic work that originated the “embodied cognition” movement and was one of the first to link science and Buddhist practices.

    This classic book, first published in 1991, was one of the first to propose the “embodied cognition” approach in cognitive science. It pioneered the connections between phenomenology and science and between Buddhist practices and science—claims that have since become highly influential. Through this cross-fertilization of disparate fields of study, The Embodied Mind introduced a new form of cognitive science called “enaction,” in which both the environment and first person experience are aspects of embodiment. However, enactive embodiment is not the grasping of an independent, outside world by a brain, a mind, or a self; rather it is the bringing forth of an interdependent world in and through embodied action. Although enacted cognition lacks an absolute foundation, the book shows how that does not lead to either experiential or philosophical nihilism. Above all, the book's arguments were powered by the conviction that the sciences of mind must encompass lived human experience and the possibilities for transformation inherent in human experience.

    This revised edition includes substantive introductions by Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch that clarify central arguments of the work and discuss and evaluate subsequent research that has expanded on the themes of the book, including the renewed theoretical and practical interest in Buddhism and mindfulness. A preface by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the originator of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program, contextualizes the book and describes its influence on his life and work.

    • Paperback $30.00 £24.00
  • Toward a Practice of Autonomous Systems

    Toward a Practice of Autonomous Systems

    Proceedings of the First European Conference on Artificial Life

    Francisco J. Varela and Paul Bourgine

    Artificial life embodies a recent and important conceptual step in modem science: asserting that the core of intelligence and cognitive abilities is the same as the capacity for living. The recent surge of interest in artificial life has pushed a whole range of engineering traditions, such as control theory and robotics, beyond classical notions of goal and planning into biologically inspired notions of viability and adaptation, situatedness and operational closure. These proceedings serve two important functions: they address bottom-up theories of artificial intelligence and explore what can be learned from simple models such as insects about the cognitive processes and characteristic autonomy of living organisms, while also engaging researchers and philosophers in an exciting examination of the epistemological basis of this new trend.

    Topics Artificial Animals • Genetic Algorithms • Autonomous Systems • Emergent Behaviors • Artificial Ecologies • Immunologic Algorithms • Self-Adapting Systems • Emergent Structures • Emotion And Motivation • Neural Networks • Coevolution • Fitness Landscapes

    Contributors H. Bersini, Domenico Parisi, Rodney A. Brooks, Christopher G. Langton, S. Kauffman, J.-L. Denenbourg, Pattie Maes, John Holland, T. Smithersm H. Swefel, H. Muhlenbein

    • Paperback $80.00 £62.00
  • The Embodied Mind

    The Embodied Mind

    Cognitive Science and Human Experience

    Francisco J. Varela, Eleanor Rosch, and Evan Thompson

    The Embodied Mind provides a unique, sophisticated treatment of the spontaneous and reflective dimension of human experience. The authors argue that only by having a sense of common ground between mind in Science and mind in experience can our understanding of cognition be more complete. Toward that end, they develop a dialogue between cognitive science and Buddhist meditative psychology and situate it in relation to other traditions such as phenomenology and psychoanalysis.

    • Hardcover $25.00 £18.95
    • Paperback $40.00 £30.00