The Free Energy Principle: Good Science and Questionable Philosophy in a Grand Unifying Theory
The Free Energy Principle (FEP) is currently one of the most promising frameworks with which to address a unified explanation of life-related phenomena. With powerful formalism that embeds a small set of assumptions, it purports to deal with complex adaptive dynamics ranging from barely unicellular organisms to complex cultural manifestations. The FEP has received increased attention in disciplines that study life, including some critique regarding its overall explanatory power and its true
... ntial as a grand unifying theory (GUT). Recently, FEP theorists presented a contribution with the main tenets of their framework, together with possible philosophical interpretations, which lean towards so-called Markovian Monism (MM). The present paper assumes some of the abovementioned critiques, rejects the arguments advanced to invalidate the FEP's potential to be a GUT, and overcomes criticism thereof by reviewing FEP theorists' newly minted metaphysical commitment, namely MM. Specifically, it shows that this philosophical interpretation of the FEP argues circularly and only delivers what it initially assumes, i.e., a dual information geometry that allegedly explains epistemic access to the world based on prior dual assumptions. The origin of this circularity can be traced back to a physical description contingent on relative system-environment separation. However, the FEP itself is not committed to MM, and as a scientific theory it delivers more than what it assumes, serving as a heuristic unification principle that provides epistemic advancement for the life sciences.