Intentionality in Nature. Against an All-Encompassing Evolutionary Paradigm: Evolutionary and Cognitive Processes are not Instances of the Same Process




Three examples of theoretical analysis of evolutionary processes are presented. It is shown that the mechanisms involved have little to do with cognitive processes except for superficial and formal analogies. That is the case not only for classical models of adaptive evolution (example I), but also for more recent ones (exanples II and HI) making use of neural network computation and self-organization theories.

Recent works on functional self-organization exhibiting some features of intentionality are discussed in this context. It is argued that Dennett's (or other) intentional stance cannot be used as a theoretical framework common to human prepositional attitudes, animal behaviour and adaptive (or non-adaptive) evolution. Indeed, a physical theory of intentionality could account, at least in principle, for the production of intentional self-organizing systems. However, except for a renewed theological “argument from design”, there is no justification to attribute intentionality to evolutionary processes and “Mother Nature”, for the reason that they have produced organisms endowed with intentional psycholinguistic capabilities.