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about Maturana and Varela

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about Maturana and Varela key concepts books internet
Important thinkers about systems in biology with much broader relevance. Introduced the notion of Autopoiesis. Autopoiesis



Structural Coupling

Whole/Part Relationship

There are two books by Maturana & Varela. Autopoiesis and Cognition (currently out of print) is deeper and harder to read, while the Tree of Knowledge is an easier and more popular work.

Francisco Varela Principles of Biological Autonomy New York: Elsevier Science Publishers, 1979.

Varela, Thompson & Rosch. The Embodied Mind (MIT 1991) is a dialogue between cognitive science and Buddhist meditative psychology
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The Tree of Knowledge

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tree of knowledge H. Maturana and Francisco Varela, The Tree of Knowledge Shambala 1992. Provides a hihgly readable discussion of the notion of closure in biology (and elsewhere). 

A more theoretical presentation of their ideas can be found in H. Maturana & F. Varela, Autopoiesis and Cognition: The realization of the living. D. Reidel, 1980.

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Maturana/Varela on Autopoiesis

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This notion, introduced by Maturana and Varela, refers to autonomous systems that are self-creating, self-organizing and self-preserving. It is commonly applied to biological organisms, and also to human organizations.
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Maturana/Varela on Knowledge

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Maturana & Varela deny the conventional distinction between knowledge and action. Instead they say: ‘All doing is knowing, and all knowing is doing.’
source: Tree of Knowledge
In data processing, this denial has implications for the conventional distinction between data and operations.
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Maturana/Varela on Structural Coupling

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Maturana and Varela introduced the notion of structual coupling as a essential component of identity.
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Varela on Whole/Part Relationship

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In many fields of science and technology, the relationship between the whole (holism) and the part (reductionism) is crucial. Flemons describes this relationship as complementary,
source: Douglas Flemons, Completing Distinctions, p 33

"On the one hand. one can move down a level and study the properties of the components, disregarding their mutual interconnection as a system. On the other hand, one can disregard the detailed structure of the components, treating their behaviour only as contributing to that of a larger unit. ... We cannot conceive of components if there is no system from which they are abstracted; and there cannot be a whole unless there are constitutive elements."

source: Varela, Principles of Biological Autonomy, p 102
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This page last updated on November 15th, 2003
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