Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living / Edition 1

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Overview

What makes a living system a living system? What kind of biological phenomenon is the phenomenon of cognition? These two questions have been frequently considered, but, in this volume, the authors consider them as concrete biological questions. Their analysis is bold and provocative, for the authors have constructed a systematic theoretical biology which attempts to define living systems not as objects of observation and description, nor even as interacting systems, but as self-contained unities whose only reference is to themselves. The consequence of their investigations and of their living systems as self-making, self-referring autonomous unities, is that they discovered that the two questions have a common answer: living systems are cognitive systems, and living as a process is a process of cognition. The result of their investigations is a completely new perspective of biological (human) phenomena. During the investigations, it was found that a complete linguistic description pertaining to the ‘organization of the living’ was lacking and, in fact, was hampering the reporting of results. Hence, the authors have coined the word ‘autopoiesis’ to replace the expression ‘circular organization’. Autopoiesis conveys, by itself, the central feature of the organization of the living, which is autonomy.

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Table of Contents

Editorial Preface General Table Of Contents Foreword Introduction (by Professor Maturana)
Biology Of Cognition Dedication Table of Contents I. Introduction II. The Problem III. Cognitive Function in General A. The Observer B. The Living System C. Evolution D. The Cognitive Process IV. 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 Observer V. Problems in the Neurophysiology of Cognition VI. Conclusions VII. Post Scriptum Autopoiesis: The Organization Of The Living Preface (by Sir Stafford Beer)
Introduction I. On Machines, living and Otherwise
1. Machines
2. Living Machines II. Dispensability of Teleonomy
1. Purposelessness
2. Individuality III. Embodiments of Autopoiesis
1. Descriptive and Causal Notions
2. Molecular Embodiments
3. Origin IV. 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 Systems V. Presence of Autopoiesis
1. Biological Implications
2. Epistemological Implications
3. Cognitive Implications Appendix: The Nervous System Glossary Bibliography Index Of Names
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