Publication 1816

Kauffman L. H. (1987) Self-reference and recursive forms. Journal of Social and Biological Structures 10: 53–72. Fulltext at
The purpose of this essay is to sketch a picture of the connections between the concept self-reference and important aspects of mathematical and cybernetic thinking. In order to accomplish this task, we begin with a very simple discussion of the meaning of self-reference and then let this unfold into many ideas. Not surprisingly, we encounter wholes and parts, distinctions, pointers and indications. local-global, circulation, feedback. recursion, invariance. self-similarity, re-entry of forms, paradox, and strange loops. But we also find topology, knots and weaves. fractal and recursive forms, infinity, curvature and imaginary numbers! A panoply of fundamental mathematical and physical ideas relating directly to the central turn of self-reference.


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