July 10, 2008

Autopoiesis or What is Life?

I just thought you might want to be taken on a trip through my current academic topic. You may never have heard of it, but it is probably the best definition of what life really is. The theory of autopoiesis was made popular by two Chilean neurobiologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, who started out with a theory on visual perception and ended up with this general theory on cognition and life.

It basically says that you call things alive that have boundaries that are produced by the thing itself and that consist of components that all interact and thereby also produce themselves :D Freaky, huh?

In other words, autopoiesis means self-reproduction and tries to explain the difference between a lifeless car factory, where you put things in on one end and get cars at the other end without fail, and a biological organism that is intertwined with its environment, but only uses the material that surrounds it to maintain its own metabolism, not to produce things it can't use itself. That is what life does! It sustains itself :) Stunning!

Varela also says that the study of buddhist meditation techniques and philosophy can help western cognitive science advance in their understanding of the mind. I am for it! There should be more interdisciplinary teaching everywhere!


Esfand` said...

jeeeezzzz!! :D

Switch topics with me :P you do the click chemistry and I will study the autopoiesis.

Lucky you!!! I loved this theory :) and will dive more into its depths... and if I am about to drown I will shout, n you know who will help me ;) You!

I love the idea of interdisciplinary research n teaching, and so I see my self in future as a popular science and philosophy prof :P if I choose to be a prof. at all n if it turns out to be so ...otherwise you may find me at a temple, as a sage who performs miracles and tells future :P hehe, so then you can get help from me in learning buddha's meditation techniques :D

Go on my friend! Lets meet at a conference and surprise each other :D

Robert said...

haha, click chemistry, I have to do some wikisearch to find out whether I would really like to switch topics. It would have to be pretty awesome, you see ;-)

I would totally come to your temple, or university faculty, depending on which path you choose. I myself am still thinking whether to go into politics, just live in a hut in the caribbean or become a sociology prof like my idol Morrie Schwartz :)

Any future will be good! Tell me about the next interdisciplinary conference and I'll be there ;) Take care