Autopoiesis: The Regenerative Nature of Life

Autopoiesis: The Regenerative Nature of Life

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Autopoiesis: The Regenerative Nature of Life

Come and nerd out with me in thinking about autopoiesis. What? You’re wondering what autopoiesis is? 

The first time I ran across the idea was in reading one of my favorite books: 

The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living by Fritjof Capra 

Essentially, autopoiesis is about systems with the ability to “self-create.” They generate processes that enable themselves to bring in information and resources from the outside in order to sustain themselves over time. Autopoiesis is critical to life.

I think it also has important implications for organizations. I’ve written about aspects of this in the past – particularly around membranes as the critical point of connection between what’s inside and outside an organism – or organization. 

Now I see that Ross Dawson has been talking about this stuff for a while. This piece is quite interesting and worth reading if you’re into this stuff – like I am. 

Autopoiesis and how hyper-connectivity is literally bringing the networks to life

Thanks to John Kellden for flagging this article for me recently. 

No comments

  1. Thank you Gideon! It’s a particularly important concept today. And a nice word to drop into conversation 🙂

  2. There is something in the air, alright. 

  3. My pleasure, Ross Dawson. It’s a good piece and great seeing you propagate these ideas. I really need to tune into your work more regularly. 

  4. I may be wrong Gideon Rosenblatt (and I’m definitely tongue in cheek), but I believe fleas can self reproduce.  ;’)

  5. Fwiw, Gideon Rosenblatt  Ross Dawson  and his book, Living Networks was an early influence on my models that eventually became Glia. Very generously engaged on several conversations that really helped me know I was on the right track. 

    I re-visit the book every so often, and the concepts Ross wrote about then, just now seem to be edging into the mainstream. 

  6. That’s cool to hear, Gregory Esau. Got to make room in my reading queue. 

  7. I know, another book for a growing queue! But it is nicely organized that makes it easy to read it in sections. You’ll immediately recognise a lot of themes and concepts. 

  8. Thank you Gregory Esau ! All of the chapters from Living Networks can now be downloaded from We’re just about to launch a $1 Kindle version of the book 🙂

  9. Let us know when you launch it, Ross Dawson. I’d love to help spread the word. 

  10. I agree with your lines of thinking here, Drew Sowersby . 

    These early generations of large scale social networks are just the beginning. 

  11. I have had autopoiesis as a key word search in Google since 2008… as my life work concerns the subject… you might enjoy a look at the connected and syn-full neuropsych/physics works of Pribram and Bohm, re: holonomy and “the holographic hypothesis of memory and perception”, “wholeness and the implicate order”) interp of mind and matter…  Varela and Machurana were connected to/influenced by pribram prior to their discoveries?

    My work – where autopoiesis meets ecology-of-mind-meets value-rich mobile app suite (future OS potential) for humanity… the potential of human systems synergy will always be dependent on the evolution of the coherence of the YOUnique Hu-Self.

  12. “…Varela and Machurana were connected to/influenced by pribram prior to their discoveries?”  opps, that was not, in the least a question… 

  13. Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks for this post, excellent. At one of my blogs you may find several papers and readings about autopoiesis, as we have organized different workshops to look into it from different perspectives.

  14. Wonderful. I tool a course in Berkeley, CA with Dr. Capra during his early days of defining his constructs relating to autopoiesis and other aspects of design ecology. He has been a strong influence in my own thinking. I look forward to seeing where the expands of his mindfulness has taken him. Key for me, which you are all talking about above, is the shift from mechanistic to organic language and thinking that allows us to create more symbiotic synergistic ways of being. 

  15. Vic, I remember Dr Capra and my prof, Karl Pribram meeting on a couple of occasions in our neuropsych labs at TheFarm (Berkeley nemisis lol )

  16. I have an organic linguistic-centric (self-evovling) ontology folded into a complex topology that I believe, through very simple/easy human data input on a daily basis (smrtph app suite I’m working on) can auto-gen synergistic hu-connectivity (and visualize the degrees of potential synergy) at a finer-grain level than we have yet to experience… would love input from interested parties… search “LeToonz” or “EcoMind, human singularity” if interested.

  17. Did we meet back then? I see you are into startups. Me too. Let me know if you could use a player from time to time to support your startup folks. I have a background in that; especially if they’re open to ‘green’. 

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