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Autopoiesis, Structural Coupling and Cognition: A history of these and other notions in the biology of cognition

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My intent in this essay is to reflect on the history of some biological notions such as autopoiesis, structural coupling, and cognition, that I have developed since the early 1960's as a result of my work on visual perception and the organization of the living. No doubt I shall repeat things that I have said in other publications (Maturana & Varela, 1980, 1988), and I shall present notions that once they are said appear as obvious truisms. Moreover, I shall refine or expand the meaning of such notions, or even modify them. Yet, in any case, the reader is not invited to attend to the truisms, or to what seems to be obvious, rather he or she is invited to attend to the consequences that those notions entail for the understanding of cognition as a biological process. After all, explanations or demonstrations always become self evident once they are understood and accepted, and the purpose of this essay is the expansion of understanding in all dimensions of human existence.
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Keywords: Autopoiesis; cognition; explanations; self-consciousness; structural coupling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Instituto Matriztico, Las Urbinas 87, Appartment 16, Providencia, Santiago, Chile.

Publication date: 01 January 2002

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