The Center Leo Apostel (CLEA) is a transdisciplinary, interfaculty research center at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). CLEA’s mission is to bridge the different scientific, social and cultural disciplines. It was founded in 1995 under the impulse of the Belgian philosopher Leo Apostel (1925-1995). He formulated the goal of CLEA as the integration of the different disciplines into a coherent worldview, so as to counteract the current fragmentation into ever more specialized approaches. Next to worldviews, our research addresses fundamental interdisciplinary issues, including complexity, systems, evolution, quantum entanglement, cognition, artscience and well-being.
We call our research philosophy "thinking beyond boundaries". Thanks to this philosophy, CLEA has attracted and trained a large number of talented researchers from the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and engineering, representing countries from across the globe. CLEA is now internationally recognized as a unique, transdisciplinary research center with a steady output of high-level, innovative publications.
Members of the CLEA research community, School of Thinking community, and other interested scholars are invited to participate in an online workshop dedicated to an understanding of the noosphere as a conscious layer of our planet, which accumulates and evolves by the means of events of cognitive interiorisation.
In this seminar, paleobiologist Daniel McShea will propose a theory of goal-directedness based on the ‘hierarchy theory’. His claim is that goal-directedness arises in physically nested hierarchical systems when a lower-level 'entity' is directed by a higher-level (external) ‘field’ in which the entity is immersed, like for example a sunflower (entity) tracking the sun (field). McShea boldly states that all goal-directed systems, from simple to complex, have this ‘entity within a field’ architecture. He will also discuss an intriguing consequence of his theory: a new view of freedom.
Complex goal-directed systems like biological organisms maintain themselves through self-generation. Their goal-directed behaviour is focused on avoiding disruptions of these processes. When agents are competing, second-order goal-directed behaviour emerges wherein they manipulate each other via coercion or deterrence. Under what conditions do these forms of violence emerge? What are the developmental, ecological and evolutionary signatures of coercion and deterrence in biological, social and technological systems? What implications might there be for reducing their prevalence? In this seminar, Michael Trestman will discuss these intriguing questions.