Mingers J. (1995) Autopoietic organizations and social systems. Chapter 8 in: Self-producing systems: Implications and applications of autopoiesis. Plenum Press, New York: 119–152. https://cepa.info/5992
Excerpt: The central problem is that the autopoietic definition specifies the production of the components constituting the entity and the production of a boundary separating the entity from its environment. The definition does not specify that these must be physical components, but if they are not, then what precisely is their domain of existence? This chapter is structured by different responses to this central question.
Mingers J. (1995) Conclusions. Chapter 12 in: Self-producing systems: Implications and applications of autopoiesis. Plenum Press, New York: 205–216. https://cepa.info/5973
Excerpt: First, however, let us consider briefly the nature of the work as a whole. How does it stand as a work of science, and how does it fit with Maturana’s view of science? The quotation at the start of this chapter can be seen to summarize science for Maturana. Science is not effective and powerful because it is true, because it corresponds to reality; rather, scientific theories become accepted as truth because they are effective, because they are powerful. Cognition is effective action. So autopoiesis is an explanation presented to a community of scientists; it is the proposal of a mechanism which, if it exists, would generate the phenomena experienced by them. Its acceptance as an explanation, and thereby its truth, will depend on its effectiveness, its usefulness, as part of an ongoing conversation among observers.
Mingers J. (1995) Information systems, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. Chapter 11 in: Self-producing systems: Implications and applications of autopoiesis. Plenum Press, New York: 185–201. https://cepa.info/5999
Excerpt: This final chapter of applications will look at two related areas: computer-based information systems (IS), and cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Within IS, autopoietic ideas have so far had only a limited influence, largely through the work of Winograd and Flores, who have produced a critique of both information systems design and artificial intelligence. This is covered in Section 11.2. More significantly, Varela has concentrated, in recent years, on cognitive science and has developed a new framework, the enactive approach, based partly on earlier cognitive theories and the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty. This is the subject of Section 11.3.
Mingers J. (1996) A comparison of Maturana’s autopoietic social theory and Giddens’ theory of structuration. Systems Research 13(3): 469–482. https://cepa.info/4818
The theory of autopoiesis developed by Maturana and Varela to explain living systems has been applied in various ways to social systems. However, whether such an application can be more than an analogy or metaphor is highly debatable. Maturana himself has generally not claimed that social systems were themselves autopoietic, but were the medium within which autopoietic systems could interact and become structurally coupled. This paper contrasts autopoiesis, and Maturana’s social theory, with Giddens’ theory of structuration which, at first sight, appears quite similar. The conclusion is that whilst autopoiesis does not fit structuration theory, there are valuable complementarities with Maturana’s social theory.
This paper presents a critical evaluation of the impact of Maturana’s constructivist approach to (systemic) family therapy. After an historical introduction and a brief description of the main ideas, a number of criticisms are considered. These concern the radical antirealist epistemology, and problems in dealing with the social context of the family, and power relations within the family
Mingers J. (1997) Systems typologies in the light of autopoiesis: A reconceptualization of Boulding’s hierarchy, and a typology of self-referential systems. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 14: 303–313. https://cepa.info/4819
This paper considers the relations between information and meaning, as generated through the interactions of individuals, and communication, at the level of society, from an autopoietic perspective. It draws on earlier work concerning first, the nature of information and its relation to meaning via embodied cognition; and, second, a classification of organizationally closed, or self-referential, systems. The contribution made in this paper is to link these analyses at the level of the individual up to the social system of communication (based on Luhmann’s work) utilising structuration theory.
Mingers J. (1999) Synthesising constructivism and critical realism: towards critical pluralism. In: Mathijs E., Veken J. V. & Belle H. V. (eds.) World views and the problem of synthesis. Kluwer Academic, Amsterdam: 187–204.
The discipline within which I work is generally known as management science. It aims to assist the management of organisations using a broadly-defined scientific approach. Within management science, I have worked particularly in operational research (OR) and information systems (IS). My work is generally informed by a systems approach. Historically, management science developed with a very positivistic view of science . OR, for example, was concerned largely to develop mathematical and computer-based models of the quantifiable aspects of problem situations in order that these might be “optimised”, while systems methodologies were based on “hard”, engineering principles.
Mingers J. (2001) Embodying information systems: The contribution of phenomenology. Information and Organization 11: 103–128. https://cepa.info/8221
This paper presents a case for embodying information systems. That is, for recognizing the fundamental importance of the body in human cognition and social action, and exploring the consequences for information systems and artificial intelligence. Current work within philosophy, biology, cognitive science, and social theory demonstrates that the Cartesian dualism of mind and body is no longer tenable, and points to the embodied and enactive nature of thought and language. Three different approaches to cognition are identified and their underlying philosophies are exemplified by Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty respectively. Sections of the paper cover: a philosophical and biological framework for embodied cognition; the main arguments in favor of the approach; and the implications for information systems and artificial intelligence.
Mingers J. (2001) Information, meaning, and communication: An autopoietic approach. In: Geyer F. & van der Zouwen J. (eds.) Sociocybernetics. Complexity, autopoiesis, and observation of social systems. Greenwood Press, Westport CT: 109–123. https://cepa.info/2714
Excerpt: This chapter aims to develop the connection between, on the one hand, a conceptualization of information and meaning at the level of interactions between individuals, and, on the other, communication at a societal level.