Publication 5236

Vernon D. & Furlong D. (1993) Relativistic ontologies, self-organization, autopoiesis, and artificial life: A progression in the science of the autonomous. Part I – The philosophical foundations. In: McMullin B. (ed.) Proceedings of the workshop “Autopoiesis and Perception”. DCU, Dublin: 26–40. Fulltext at
Autopoiesis is a very powerful way of looking at and dealing with autonomous systems. It also has some major implications for the philosophy of science. Unfortunately, it is not clear in what philosophical context one should go about using autopoiesis. In this paper, we look at these issues, touching upon the inadequacies of conventional (positivistic) ontologies and philosophies of science, and we briefly describe an alternative relativistic ontology. We argue that self-organization is a necessary condition for autonomous systems and we highlight the difficulties that this raises for conventional representational approaches to autonomous systems. We discuss a methodology for discourse in relativistic ontology (Systematics) and, based on this, we argue in favour of a spectrum of autonomy. In a sister as a particular instance of autonomy in this spectrum. We proceed to describe the progress which has been made towards the development of a computational simulation of autopoietic organization, beginning with a formulation in terms of the calculus of indications (incorporating Varela’s extensions to include autonomous forms), and incorporating the Systematic formulation.


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