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Previous Programs

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Information as Fuel
Awardees

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Jenann Ismael
Columbia University

Project Title

The Emergence of Intelligence: from Nature through Culture

Project Summary

The project will be a philosophical look at the science that is helping us understand the emergence of natural intelligence. It will have two parts. The first will look at the emergence of natural cognition and its ties to information and agency. The second will examine the connection between intelligence and culture. The research is carried out from a discipline-spanning perspective that reaches from physics, through biology and the cognitive sciences, into social science. The overarching idea is that the emergence of intelligence is part of an evolutionary development that involves nature finding new ways to preserve and put information to use, and that culture (conceived as the set of socially transmitted body of knowledge, practices, skills, and norms, together with the institutions that make the transmission possible) is continuous with this development and largely responsible for the specifically human form of intelligence. The goals are to (i) put forward an anti-rationalist, collectivist notion of intelligence, (ii) bring into philosophy all of the interesting material coming out of various quarters of cognitive science, anthropology into the philosophical discussion of intelligence, and (iii) put it all against the background of the increasing understanding of the role of information in the natural sciences.



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