Publication 1206

Zeleny M. (1996) On social nature of autopoietic systems. In: Khalil E. L. & Boulding K. E. (eds.) Evolution, order and complexity. Routledge, London: 122–145. Fulltext at
Every organism, even if temporarily isolated, can emerge, survive, and reproduce only as part of a larger societal network of organisms. Similarly, any cell, organelle, or neuron can exist only as part of a group or society of cells, organelles, or neurons. Each component of an autopoietic system can emerge, persist, and reproduce only within the complex of relationships that constitute the network of interconnected components and component-producing processes. Before any organism can reproduce, it must first be produced (or self-produced), and it must survive. Autopoiesis therefore precedes, and in fact creates, the conditions for a subsequent reproduction. Survival activities of individual organisms (economic and ecological) directly form and re-form local societies of interactive populations, which are further concatenated into regional networks and full ecosystems. Reproductive organismic activities can take place only within such preformed networks and thus assure their own (networks’) reinforcement and self-production. In fact, autopoietic systems can, and many do, adapt and evolve without their own reproduction; only their components may reproduce. Social networks are demonstrably biotic systems. Relevance: This paper builds and relates to the theory of autopoietic systems based on the work of Maturana, Varela and Uribe.


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