Autopoiesis: The Organization of Living Systems, Its Characterization and a Model

  • F. G. Varela
  • H. R. Maturana
  • R. Uribe
Part of the International Federation for Systems Research International Series on Systems Science and Engineering book series (IFSR, volume 7)


Notwithstanding their diversity, all living systems must share a common organization which we implicitly recognize calling them “living.” At present there is no formulation of this organization, mainly because the great developments of molecular, genetic and evolutionary notions in contemporary biology have led to the overemphasis of isolated components, e.g., to consider reproduction as a necessary feature of the living organization and, hence, not to ask about the organization which makes a living system a whole, autonomous unity that is alive regardless of whether it reproduces or not. As a result, processes that are history dependent (evolution, ontogenesis) and history independent (individual organization) have been confused in the attempt to provide a single mechanistic explanation for phenomena which, although related, are fundamentally distinct.


Living System Spatial Relation Spontaneous Decay Spontaneous Generation Living Organization 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. G. Varela
  • H. R. Maturana
  • R. Uribe

There are no affiliations available

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