The enactive approach to cognitive science has undergone a bio-phenomenologically inspired “normative turn” by characterizing an organism’s activity as motivated by intrinsic value, where this value is grounded in adaptive self-production under precarious conditions. However, efforts in the field of artificial life to model this enactive conception of life have unwittingly revealed a case of what can be called the hard problem of efficacy (HPE): how could any intrinsic value as such make an effective difference to an organism’s behavior, in particular if bodily activity is purely determined by valueless material-organizational factors? First, this theoretical challenge of the HPE is formulated in the context of the enactive account of motivated activity. Then, by critically analyzing Schrödinger’s work on the methodological principles that define the scientific world image, it is argued that they can be revised to allow solutions to the HPE. This involves placing a limit on Schrödinger’s principle of understandability. The key move is to operationalize this limit with the concept of irruption: an organism’s motivations can make a physical difference to its bodily activity, but only indeterminately so, akin to a breakdown of its material-organizational constraints. Irruptions can thereby indirectly facilitate behavior-switching as well as long-term self-organization of adaptive behavior. Finally, it is proposed that the efficacy of motivated activity has its own specific energy cost due to the disordering effect of irruptions, which provides a new perspective on agency and the notion of mental work.

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