Abstract for: Modeling as Autonomous System: Varela Meets Darwin

This paper posits mental modeling as autopoietic systems of ideas based on processes of selection. A thought experiment is proposed to illustrate the argumentation. After reviewing the essential features of selection theory and mental models, we present modeling as driven by a process of variations and selections. We then show how the deliberate process of model development fosters the generation of mental variety and transfers the locus of selection from external to internal. We deduce that modeling, as far as it succeeds in framing successful actions, is a selective advantage; however, as such it may only play out over generations. If mental models are autonomous and enactive systems, the use of selection theory to describe their evolution is fruitful. We believe both theoretic bodies to be useful for further investigating how model develop in minds and how internal selectors can be designed such as to reduce the need for external selection.