About autopoiesis

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overview

… "autopoiesis" from greek αὐτo- (auto-), meaning "self", and ποίησις (poiesis), meaning "creation, production" …

… refers to a system capable of reproducing and maintaining itself …

… the term was introduced in 1972 by chilean biologists humberto maturana and francisco varela to define the self-maintaining chemistry of living cells …

… since then the concept has been also applied to the fields of systems theory and sociology …

references

[source1 wikipedia]

[source2 a calculus for autopoiesis, d baecker, 2012]

original definition

… see pg 78, autopoiesis and cognition: the realization of the living, by maturana and varela …

… an autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components which: …

… (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them; and …

… (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in space in which they (the components) exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network …

meaning

… autopoiesis was originally presented as a system description that was said to define and explain the nature of living systems …

… a canonical example of an autopoietic system is the biological cell …

… the eukaryotic cell, for example, is made of various biochemical components such as nucleic acids and proteins, and is organized into:

  • bounded structures such as the cell nucleus …

  • various organelles …

  • a cell membrane and cytoskeleton …

… these structures, based on an external flow of molecules and energy, produce the components which, in turn, continue to maintain the organized bounded structure that gives rise to these components (not unlike a wave propagating through a medium) …

… an autopoietic system is to be contrasted with an allopoietic system, such as a car factory, which uses raw materials (components) to generate a car (an organized structure) which is something other than itself (the factory) …

… an autopoietic system is autonomous and operationally closed, in the sense that there are sufficient processes within it to maintain the whole …

… autopoietic systems are "structurally coupled" with their medium …

… embedded in a dynamic of changes that can be recalled as sensory-motor coupling…

… this continuous dynamic is considered as a rudimentary form of knowledge or cognition and can be observed throughout life-forms …

applications

… sociology - niklas luhmann's systems theory …

… cybernetics and second order observations …

… operations research, viable system model, by stafford beer …

… the form of the firm – dirk baecker …

a calculus for autopoiesis, d baecker, pg 11 of 15

… our calculus for autopoiesis draws attention to networks being indispensable for the production and reproduction of systems understood as unities …

… we are thus naturally dealing with complex system …

… as complexity is defined as the variety constituting a unity, and vice versa …

… and we leave open the question whether the network works its net only inside a system or also outside a system …

… as the notion of network is considered to feature a calculus of uncertainty (white 1992), it is perhaps more attractive to define a network as not having a boundary even if it constitutes a boundary (karafillidis 2009) …

… this means that we re-enter niklas luhmann's (1995) understanding of systems into w. ross ashby's (1960) understanding of them …

… calling for the production and reproduction of a form the "essential" (ashby) variables of which are distributed across system and environment …

… and thus calling for an observer indicating and distinguishing this form as one crossing between system and environment …

… this understanding of form combines operation, that is system, with structure, that is environment-cum-system drawing a distinction within that environment …

… we have heinz von foerster's (2003), humberto r. maturana's, and francisco j. varela's (1980) 'operational closure' together with maturana's and varela's (1980) 'structures' of the realization of that closure within a specific domain …

… and 'network' as the term describing how operational closure necessarily draws on these structures …

… and we have niklas luhmann's (1995) distinction between self-reference (selbstreferenz) and otherreference (fremdreferenz) to indicate the assumed necessity for any operation to indicate and distinguish itself and some other in a constant and thus indeterminate oscillation between the two references …