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On Machines, Living and Otherwise

  • Humberto R. Maturana
  • Francisco J. Varela
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 42)

Abstract

Machines are usually viewed as concrete hardware systems, defined by the nature of their components and by the purpose that they fulfill in their operations as man-made artifacts. This view however is obviously naive because it says nothing about how they are constituted. That machines are unities is apparent; that they are made of components that are characterized by certain properties capable of satisfying certain relations that determine in the unity the interactions and transformations of these same components is also apparent. What is not so apparent is that the actual nature of the components, and the particular properties that these may possess other than those participating in the interactions and transformations which constitute the system, are irrelevant and can be any. In fact, the significant properties of the components must be taken in terms of relations, as the network of interactions and transformations into which they can enter in the working of the machine which they integrate and constitute as a unity.

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Humberto R. Maturana
  • Francisco J. Varela

There are no affiliations available

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