Publication 1274

Varela F. J. (1992) Autopoiesis and a biology of intentionality. In: McMullin B. (ed.) Proceedings of the workshop “Autopoiesis and Perception”. Dublin City University, Dublin: 4–14. Fulltext at
Excerpt from the introduction: As everybody here knows, autopoiesis is a neologism, introduced in 1971 by H. Maturana and myself to designate the organization of a minimal living system. The term became emblematic of a view of the relation between an organism and its medium, where its self constituting and autonomous aspects are put at the center of the stage. From 1971, until now much has happened to reinforce this perspective. Some of the developments have to do with the notion of autopoiesis itself in relation to the cellular organization and the origin of life. Much more has to do with the autonomy and self-organizing qualities of the organism in relation with its cognitive activity. Thus in contrast to the dominant cognitivist, symbol-processing views of the 70's today we witness in cognitive science a renaissance of the concern for the embeddedness of the cognitive agent, natural or artificial. My intention rather, profiting from the position of opening this gathering, is to try to indicate some fundamental or foundational issues of the relation between autopoiesis and perception. Whence the title of my talk: a biology of intentionality. Relevance: Since the crisis of classical cognitive science has thrown open the issue of intentionality, in my eyes autopoiesis provides a natural entry into a view of intentionalty that is seminal in answering the major obstacles that have been addressed recently.

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