The free energy principle: good science and questionable philosophy in a grand unifying theory
Free Energy Principle
Markovian Monism
Grand unification theory
Complex adaptive systems
Bayesian brain
Principle of individuation
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Sánchez-Cañizares, J. (Javier). "The Free Energy Principle: Good Science and Questionable Philosophy in a Grand Unifying Theory". Entropy. 23 (2), 2021, 238
Abstract:The Free Energy Principle (FEP) is currently one of the most promising frameworks withwhich to address a unified explanation of life-related phenomena. With powerful formalism thatembeds a small set of assumptions, it purports to deal with complex adaptive dynamics ranging frombarely unicellular organisms to complex cultural manifestations. The FEP has received increasedattention in disciplines that study life, including some critique regarding its overall explanatorypower and its true potential as a grand unifying theory (GUT). Recently, FEP theorists presented acontribution with the main tenets of their framework, together with possible philosophical interpre-tations, which lean towards so-called Markovian Monism (MM). The present paper assumes some ofthe abovementioned critiques, rejects the arguments advanced to invalidate the FEP’s potential tobe a GUT, and overcomes criticism thereof by reviewing FEP theorists’ newly minted metaphysicalcommitment, namely MM. Specifically, it shows that this philosophical interpretation of the FEPargues circularly and only delivers what it initially assumes, i.e., a dual information geometry thatallegedly explains epistemic access to the world based on prior dual assumptions. The origin of thiscircularity can be traced back to a physical description contingent on relative system-environmentseparation. However, the FEP itself is not committed to MM, and as a scientific theory it deliversmore than what it assumes, serving as a heuristic unification principle that provides epistemicadvancement for the life sciences.

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