Plants in cognitive science and philosophy of mind

Il prossimo incontro per il ciclo di seminari PsychoClub si terrà mercoledi 27 Marzo 2024 presso l’aula 3I (tre i) “PSICO 2” (via Venezia 12), ore 11.30-12.30.

Speaker: Margherita Bianchi
Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale

Title: Plants in cognitive science and philosophy of mind

As a result of the empirical evidence and theoretical thematization associated to the interactional capacities of plants, a biogenic and empirically informed approach to cognition applied to the study of plant behaviour is beginning to emerge.

Here I ask whether this ground is fertile for nesting the concepts of “mind,” or “mental capacities,” within the plants debate, given the traditional connotation of “mind” associated with humans or other organisms with which we are more familiar. In the case of plants, it seems counterintuitive, probably unnecessary, to evoke mental capacities considering their different physiological and morphological organisation and the related ecological needs. But the value of this analysis is in the argument itself: beyond future scientific insights that may corroborate or falsify the idea of a plant mind, it will certainly test it, given that many aspects related to the study of plant behaviour are at a hypothetical stage.

The reasoning concerned with the possible mental abilities of plants could stimulate theoretical research aimed at developing a processual and ecological conception of the mental. The concept of a natural mind could be expanded, allowing us to understand what the commonalities and differences between neural and nonneural organisms might be.

Finally, I will focus on the rather complex and vague representational issue (the presence or absence of some kind of representation), which could play a heuristic role in identifying the most promising approaches, to understand how plants can memorize, learn, communicate, and vary their behaviours during their individual development.

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