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WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 03:48, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


At least some instances use "Autopoïesis" with the "Ï" diaeresis. Nagelfar (talk) 11:14, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

The paragraph within the article beginning "Another example would be a whirlpool ... " is both false and misleading. There is no place within the primary literature where a whirlpool is cited as an example of an autopoietic system. The citation link leads to a third-party paper in which a whirlpool example is presented for purposes other than defining autopoiesis, and that paper's author never states the whirlpool is an example of an autopoietic entity. EnolaGaia (talk) 16:20, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

If my memory serves me correctly, Fritjof Capra used the whirlpool in one of his books as a simplified analogy of the human body; Rather than being an object, the human body/whirlpool is a process - a continuous flux of material which maintains its own form, provided that the supply of new material is maintained. Might have been in The Web of Life. Brilliant book/author. nagualdesign (talk) 07:14, 20 March 2011 (UTC)


The criticism section of this article seems to overstate opposition to the concept of autopoiesis. The current reference #4 (Autopoiesis in Systems Analysis: A Debate. Int. J. General Systems, Vol. 21, No 2, pp. 131-271) is indeed a summary of a debate that has a handful of scholars opposing autopoiesis. But it dates from 1992 and opposition since then does not seem to have widened much beyond those original critics. It is particularly hard to understand the charge of solipsism considering that Maturana anticipates and counters any charge of solipsism:

"...cultural differences do not represent different modes of treating the same objective reality, but legitimately different cognitive domains. Culturally different men live in different cognitive realities that are recursively specified through their living in them.... The question of solipsism arises only as a pseudo-problem, or does not arise at all, because the necessary condition for our possibility of talking about it is our having a language that is a consensual system of interactions in a subject depended cognitive domain, and this condition constitutes the negation of solipsism." - Maturana, "Cognitive strategies" (1974), pg 464.

It is also hard to see why Zolo's "desolate theology" quote is justified considering this article has nothing to do with a theological understanding of the world.

Occamster (talk) 10:24, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

I agree. I don't think it would be wrong to post the Maturana quote in the original article, but perhaps with a bit of an interpretation of what Maturana meant--the quote is jargon filled. Briholt (talk) 18:24, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I also agree wholeheartedly. I was very surprised to see Maturana, or especially his theory, described as solipsistic. Though I've heard the term "desolate theology" used before, usually when a scientist proposes a theory which further removes the need for Godly intervention. The last section smacks of religious ideology to me. nagualdesign (talk) 07:27, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
I also agree. The criticisms here are weak (solipsism claim) and possibly totally off-topic (desolate theology claim). The introduction in the Maturana and Varela book, concerning as it is with the development of social structures, would seem to be ample evidence against solipsism. I am not sure as to protocol: Why is this being discussed and not simply being corrected in the text? Robin726 (talk) 04:37, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Because it amounts to the bare assertion of Maturana that it's not solipsistic. Regardless of whether Maturana feels that charge is incorrect it is still a possible charge, and as one who has read large portions of the original texts AP & Cognition, and AP: the Realization of the Living, it comes across as solipsistic. External reality is denied, and any reality that is discusses is discusses as being brought forth by the autopoeitic system or by the observer in other contexts. Perhaps solipsism is the wrong term because he explicitely avoids any talk of "minds" and the language is fairly neutral monist, at times naturalistic. So maybe a monadism is a more accurate term, but regardless, it is clear that these guys don't think that external reality exists in any sense besides as a cognitive domain brought forth by an organism in its ongoing recurrent structural dynamics. Beyond this we are splitting hairs and playing semantic games. This is what themselves have written in their monographs, it's in their lectures, and so on. DivisionByZer0 (talk) 05:37, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Since Maturana explicitly avoids both representationalism and solipsism, and discusses the issue in several of his texts, I'd propose that statements of this sorts of critique should be backed by citations that directly address Maturana's arguments. The way the article is handling this right now gives undeserved visibility to, frankly, extremely superficial arguments that don't even address Maturana's position on the subject!. There are careful reevaluations of the theory out there (for example, Razeto-Barry, 2012, DOI:10.1007/s11084-012-9297-y), that could offer much richer perspectives. Aruboro (talk) 20:18, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Since naive realism is now doubtful in view of quantum mechanics (see naive realism and quantum physics), it should not be considered a criticism of Maturana and Varela that they consider our picture of reality to be a construction. --Brian Josephson (talk) 21:03, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Improving this article[edit]

I think this article would benefit from a more detailed explanation of the concept within the 3 domains it might be applied: biological, chemical, and social. In other words, could 3 headings be created under which follows an explanation of autopoiesis as it is understood/used within those domains? Occamster (talk) 10:24, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Regardless of the categories used, someone with more smarts than myself needs to greatly expand this article. As it stands a critically important topic is done a disservice. Robin726 (talk) 04:40, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Semi-open system, not closed[edit]

Life is a semi-open system, not a closed system, at whatever level it is viewed. I very much doubt that M&V would have said autopoiesis refers to a closed system, but if they did, show me where. Macdonald-ross (talk)

I suggest this clarification in the article: an autopoietic system is autonomous and operationally closed, in the sense that there are sufficient processes within it to maintain the whole answers this criticism. 'Closure' is being defined here as 'no outside processes required'. --Brian Josephson (talk) 21:13, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Original reference[edit]

In the introduction the book "Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living (1st edition 1973, 2nd 1980)" is cited several times, but without further links or information.
In fact, the earliest reference I could find is: [Varela & Maturana. Autopoiesis: The organization of living systems, its characterization and a model. Biosystems 5, 187–196 (1974)]. And this one is not mentioned here.
I think that the introduction should be changed to include just this reference, or the book should be properly referred with full detailed.
Omer 15:36, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Omermar (talkcontribs)

The book "de máquinas y seres vivos" was published in 1973 (Varela states so in the preface to the second edition), but the introduction in this article cites fragments from the preface to the second edition (1994, as far as I can tell). I'm not sure when was that preface added to the english edition of the book. The introduction here is a bit misleading: the original book was written in english, but the spanish translation was published first. Then, in 1980, the original (english) was published, including one article by Maturana, and another by Breer. Aruboro (talk) 20:30, 17 October 2014 (UTC)