Publication 1841

Kauffman L. H. & Varela F. J. (1980) Form dynamics. Journal for Social and Biological Structures 3: 171–206. Fulltext at
This paper is an exposition and extension of ideas begun in the work of G. SpencerBrown (Laws of Form). We discuss the relations between form and process, distinction and indication by the use of simple mathematical models. These models distill the essence of the ideas. They embody and articulate many concepts that could not otherwise be brought into view. The key to the approach is the use of imaginary Boolean values. These are the formal analogs of complex numbers – processes seen as timeless forms, then indicated (self-referentially) and re-entered into the discourse that engendered them. While the discussion in this paper is quite abstract, the ideas and models apply to a wide range of phenomena in mathematics, physics, linguistics, perception and thought.


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