Free Reading De máquinas y seres vivos: una teorìa sobre la organización biológicaAuthor Humberto R. Maturana –

This Is A Bold, Brilliant, Provocative And Puzzling Work It Demands A Radical Shift In Standpoint, An Almost Paradoxical Posture In Which Living Systems Are Described In Terms Of What Lies Outside The Domain Of Descriptions Professor Humberto Maturana, With His Colleague Francisco Varela, Have Undertaken The Construction Of A Systematic Theoretical Biology Which Attempts To Define Living Systems Not As They Are Objects Of Observation And Description, Nor Even As In Teracting Systems, But As Self Contained Unities Whose Only Reference Is To Them Selves Thus, The Standpoint Of Description Of Such Unities From The Outside , I E By An Observer, Already Seems To Violate The Fundamental Requirement Which Maturana And Varela Posit For The Characterization Of Such System Namely, That They Are Autonomous, Self Referring And Self Constructing Closed Systems In Short, Autopoietic Systems In Their Terms Yet, On The Basis Of Such A Conceptual Method, And Such A Theory Of Living Systems, Maturana Goes On To Define Cognition As A Biological Phenomenon As, In Effect, The Very Nature Of All Living Systems And On This Basis, To Generate The Very Domains Of Interac Tion Among Such Systems Which Constitute Language, Description And Thinking

10 thoughts on “De máquinas y seres vivos: una teorìa sobre la organización biológica

  1. says:

    Wow, I ve never felt so mentally humbled in the shadow of a biologist In the realm of arrogant physicists and mathematicians, biologists are seen as the housewives of science keeping things clean and tidy while the real men do the work I ve met enough intelligent biologists to know that this is only the case most of the time, but Maturana is a giant I feel no shame in admitting that this was one of the most difficult books I ve slogged through and that I d often spend 10 15 minutes on a single page That said, it was worth the slog.My reactions to this book are a mixture of the following three three letter phrases wow , duh , and wtf The wow s were accompanied by large scale synaptic migrations as my paradigms regarding life and cognition were scrambled The duh s were my response to Maturana s incessant repetition of ideas only a Baptist alligator wrestler from the Deep South would argue with evolution is a blind and local process, biological systems are recursive, blah, blah, blah This might, however, be as unfair as accusing Shakespeare of adhering to every stereotype in Western literature, as I m pretty sure Maturana was an early pioneer in the still fledgling field of theoretical biology and that many works I ve read since are derived from his ideas The wtf s were in response to Maturana s needlessly complicated lexicon of undefined terms It seems like he and Varela went off and lived in a forest for 20 years, shielded from civilization, and developed their own strange and impenetrable vocabulary that only they understand.The wow s occurred almost exclusively during the first essay of this book The Biology of Cognition I was much less impressed by Autopoiesis , probably because the central idea of this book, recursion, has since spawned a closet industry of books ranging from masterpieces of human thought to crackpot theories on how G del s theorem proves that God invented the internet.As usual for books that woo me, I ll reserve my fifth star for another few weeks months to see if my infatuation with the ideas in this book is nothing than a teenage fling or something truly special and lasting.Finally, the following are the main ideas I drew from the two essays These notes are mainly to aid my aging memory, but you re free to treat it as a poorly executed synopsis My criticisms of the text follow afterwards Cyclical Autopoietic Systems A living organism is a cyclical system whose pieces provide for their own synthesis and maintenance call this process autopoiesis The disruption of this cycle destroys the organism This cycle relies on the environment it continually makes predictions about the environment by requiring and expecting certain resources If these predictions fail, the organism may die One goal of an organism is to expand its environmental requirements and thus predictions into broad classes rather than very specific conditions In this way, the organism becomes robust to environmental change These cycles autopoietic systems may be nested, smaller cycles being the components of larger ones There may even be level mixing in which interactions play roles on multiple levels There is some wiggle room in which an autopoietic system can be perturbed and yet still carry out its autopoietic self genesis That wiggle room constitutes the cognitive domain It is the space of biological deformations that do not destroy an organism As autopoiesis defines an organism, the relations between the components that constitute that organism are far important than the components themselves Organisms are fundamentally ontogenic Development is not a process that culminates in an organism The organism is the entire spatio temporal pattern that includes development Domain Distinction An organism s niche is not a subset of the environment an observer describes The niche is defined in terms of the organism s domain of interactions with its environment The observer necessarily describes the environment in terms of his own domain of interactions This is a major barrier to explanation and understanding An organism may interact with its environment in ways unobservable to others An organism may perhaps dysfunctionally interact with its environment in ways unobservable to it, but observable to others Communication is the orienting of one organism to a particular internal state by another organism Note that the cognitive domains of the two organisms are different, so it makes no sense to speak of information transferred in the absolute Absolute denotation of communication exists only in the mind of an observer who notices a relation in his simultaneous interactions with both organisms Two organisms may only communicate if their cognitive domains have significant overlap Otherwise, they are incapable of orienting one another to corresponding appropriate internal states Neural Systems Only that which leaves a signature on the nervous system may enter the cognitive domain That which does not affect the brain is invisible to the organism Interactions that leave the same neural signature are indistinguishable to an organism, be they between the organism and its environment or between internal cognitive states It is possible, however, that an external observer may be differentially affected by similar interactions and be quite capable of distinguishing them Neural systems can give a representation to pure relations , expanding the cognitive domain to include abstract ideas With this, pure relations may begin to independently interact with one another Interesting view of a neuron spatial system of possibly overlapping affector and collector areas Neural systems function in the present The past only plays a role to the extent that it leaves a signature in the brain that carries on to the present In general, for the past and predicted future to play a role in cognition, they must be abstracted and represented The brain is local in interaction but not representation Computation proceeds physically via matter affecting matter interaction is local Ideas, stimuli, and other neural states are distributed across the brain representation is not local Internal states represent spatiotemporal interactions with an organism s sensory service and subsequent internal activity There are at least three time scales to consider Immediate stimuli transiently affect neural activity Lifetime repeated stimuli permanently affect the organization of a neural system learning Evolutionary evolutionary pressures affect the base genetic model that prescribes an organism s development Neural systems change continuously and non predictively For a system to evolve between two states, the intermediate states must be accessible and viable Interesting domain in which to study neurons the I O domain Fix I, vary parameters, and watch O change Fix I O, examine reduced parameter space that preserves that particular I O relation Questions What are the fundamental units of the nervous system What are the fundamental units of any information processing system That is, what should we treat as primitives in order to explain what neural systems do That said, the 40 year old essays do contain some outdated material, namely the oft repeated doctrine that neurons are deterministic Neurons are not deterministic Their input output mappings are pretty friggin stochastic, owing at the very least to the fact that channel dynamics dip into the quantum world of chemical reactions.I also suspect that the reason Maturana and Varela resort to such a tangled web of undefined jargon is that many of their ideas are less developed than the Olsen twins warning my bag of pop culture references has not been replenished since the mid 90s First, how exactly does autopoiesis define unique topological boundaries for an organism If the autopoietic cycle that defines an organism is so deeply interwoven with the environment, how does one separate organism and environment Every organism relies on its environment for resources How to draw structural boundaries is obviously much clearer to Maturana and Varela than it is to my feeble brain Second, Maturana and Varela stress that our descriptions of the functioning of organisms are fundamentally flawed due to the domain distinction problems mentioned in the notes above Why is their description of autopoiesis immune from these mistakes Why are they so certain that autopoiesis is the definitive characteristic of life when they argue throughout the text that the true character of organisms is forever unknowable in our restricted cognitive domains

  2. says:

    The work is as philosophical as it is scientific, even in discussions of neurophysiology, which was particularly refreshing aspect of the book It has a very interesting framework, and there are number of pragmatic problems that are handled in a connected manner Also some people might feel a bit of Kant in it The one downside is, it over explains What autopoiesis is not I definitely recommend this book.

  3. says:

    Profound and rich A thrilling blend of biology and philosophy Just my cup of tea Also very influential.

  4. says:

    These two Chilean researchers may be two of the greatest minds of the 20th century Clear paradigm shifters of cognition and self awareness Autopoiesis and Ennaction are two concepts that many don t know that underly the sciences of complexity and cognition nowadays.

  5. says:

    Incredible Maturana a Surprising Genius

  6. says:

    Very dense read Something I will revisit again and again.

  7. says:

    GENERAL TABLE OF CONTENTSEDITORIAL PREFACEGENERAL TABLE OF CONTENTSFOREWORDINTRODUCTION by Professor Maturana BIOLOGY OF COGNITIONDedicationTable of ContentsI IntroductionII The ProblemIII Cognitive Function in General A The Observer B The Living System C Evolution D The Cognitive ProcessIV Cognitive Function in Particular A Nerve Cells B Architecture C Function D Representation E Description F Thinking G Natural Language H Memory and Learning I The ObserverV Problems in the Neurophysiology of CognitionVI ConclusionsVII Post ScriptumAUTOPOIESIS THE ORGANIZATION OF THE LIVINGPreface by Sir Stafford Beer Introduction I On Machines, Living and Otherwise1 Machines2 Living Machines II Dispensability of Teleonomy 1 Purposelessness 2 IndividualityIII Embodiments of Autopoiesis 1 Descriptive and Causal Notions 2 Molecular Embodiments 3 OriginIV Diversity of Autopoiesis 1 Subordination to the Condition of Unity 2 Plasticity of Ontogeny 3 Reproduction, a Complication of the Unity 4 Evolution, a Historical Network 5 Second and Third Order Autopoietic SystemsV Presence of Autopoiesis 1 Biological Implications 2 Epistemological Implications 3 Cognitive ImplicationsAppendix The Nervous SystemGlossaryBIBLIOGRAPHYINDEX OF NAMES

  8. says:

    i was confused because i disbelieve in unities, save perhaps a single collective cosmic one, i guess i get nervous even guessing that unicity stays in question for me since one would need to convince the observer of an impermeable border whether or not you re sold on the idea of a unity it s still useful to see how the idea is worked out here, and to consider the portability of this philosophical tool i ve heard the term autopoiesis float around for a while so reading this for me has been a long time coming i keep daring myself to read hard science texts, it just takes me forever to get through and i understand like less than half of it reading this it felt increasingly untenable to disagree that autopoiesis could be anything other than interdependence, as it is observed here that an individual autopoietic organism can become a component in a higher order system s autopoiesis reading this i realize i need to check out bertalanffy, but how many times must i make myself read something my poststructuralist mind dissents to

  9. says:

    It was one the first Book related to autopoiesis I did read it 30 years ago, exprcting that authors and other will connect it with religion Gid is the most autopoietic person, almost only He , philosophy Plato, Spinisa, specially Hegel and Heidegger are nearer to autopoietic concepts than Maturanata and late Varela, who before death started to learn Indiana philosophy , specially i did expect it in psychology, economics, and law Only Luhmann who i met 1992 satisfied my interest Anyway autopoiesis is for me the greatest concepts I am waiting the better books

  10. says:

    De ac es la definici n de sistemas autopoi ticos Una m quina autopoi tica es una m quina organizada definida como una unidad como una red de procesos de producci n transformaci n y destrucci n de componentes que i a trav s de sus interacciones y transformaciones continuamente regeneran y realizan la red de procesos las relaciones que los han producido, y ii la constituyen la m quina como una unidad concreta en el espacio en el que ellos los componentes existen especificando el dominio topol gico de su realizaci n como tal de una red p g.78