If “abiogenesis” is the hypothesized origin of life from non-living systems, then a good term for the hypothesized origin of mind from non-mental systems would be “apsychogenesis”. A question I find fascinating is: What were the relative times of occurrence of abiogenesis and apsychogenesis?
I’m aware of no non-religious defense of the view that apsychogensisis preceded abiogenisis (and I’m not totally sure there are any religious ones, either). My own money is on the theory that abiogenesis preceded apscyhogenesis. If I understand their positions correctly, in defending the thesis of “strong continuity of life and mind”, theorists such as Fransico Varela and Evan Thompson are thereby committed to the co-occurrence of abiogenesis and apsychogenesis. (See Thompson’s article “Life and mind: From autopoiesis to neurophenomenology. A tribute to Francisco Varela” and his book Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind)
2. Bacterial Cognition
One front where the battle between the “life-first, mind-later” and the “life and mind: same time” folks will need to duke it out is over various competing and compelling claims concerning whether genuine cognition is instantiated in bacterial control systems.
Lots of defenders of smart bacteria gave talks in Australia this past July. (See here for various abstracts in the ASCS proceedings. See here for Kate Devitt’s detailed notes of Pamela Lyon’s talk.)
3. The Greatest Paper Ever Written
I have absolutely no idea what the greatest paper ever written is. I do know, however, that my “Varieties of Representation in Evolved and Embodied Neural Networks” gets more hits, month after month, than any of my other online papers. I know, additionally, that I much prefer that paper’s sequel “Evolving Artificial Minds and Brains”, (EAMB) wherein “apsychogenesis” was coined. Both papers defend the instantiation of genuine mentality in relatively simple control systems (such as those hypothesized to explain bacterial chemotaxis). (EAMB Links: pdf for the uncorrected proofs; html for the penultimate draft.)