Publication 1203

Zeleny M. (1977) Self-organization of living systems: A formal model of autopoiesis. International Journal of General Systems 4(1): 13–28. Fulltext at
A formalization, computerization and extension of the original Varela-Maturana-Uribe model of autopoiesis is presented. Autopoietic systems are driven by sets of simple “rules” which guide the behavior of components in a given milieu. These rules are capable of producing systemic structures that are far more complex than we could ever achieve by a direct arrangement of components, i.e., by a method of systems analysis and design. The study of autopoietic systems indicates that the traditional emphasis on internal qualities of a system’s components has been misplaced. It is the organization of components, rather than the components themselves (or their structural manifestations), that provides the necessary and sufficient conditions of autopoiesis and thus of life itself. The dynamic autonomy of autopoietic systems contrasts significantly with non-autonomous, allopoietic mechanistic systems. Relevance: This paper discusses the theory of autopoietic systems based on the work of Maturana, Varela and Uribe.


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