Origin Symposium III – Humberto Maturana

Ars Electronica Festival 2011 – Origin
Day 2 of the ORIGIN Symposium gets underway with Humberto Maturana (CL), the man who developed the theory of autopoeisis and a key collaborator on the concepts of radical constructivism. In his capacity as neurobiologist and philospher, he will treat the questions of the preconditions for innovation to occur.

How did everything begin?

Continuous self-production?

We live in language -> we live in communication

The power of now is hidden in the verbs.

Language occurs because we live together.

Language coordinate behaviour.

“We are emotional beings …. that use our rationality to validate or invalidate our emotions”

When emotions change, the world around changes.

“You can be many things, by being interested, in many things.”

The nervous system

  • Always creating internal correlations
  • Operates distinguishing configurations of relations of activity within itself.
  • As a result, the nervous system … operates generating sensory-effector correlations in the organism in its niche.
  • In our living … we do not distinguish in the experience between perception and illusion.

We follow in our thinking, in our doing the path of what we accept as valid, and to accept something as valid …. Is an emotional choice, regardless of the rational arguments that we may have to support our choice.

We have expectations … and because our expectation is satisfied, or not satisfied, we say is an illusion or not. Illusions are not in themselves, an illusion is an experience that we live as valid in the moment that we live it, but will then invalidates our references to another experience. The same thing happens with mistakes.

Themes to reflection

  • explanations
  • laws of nature -> coherence of configurations
  • abstractions
  • deductions
  • computations

What do we do then? We explain the operational coherences of our living with the operational coherences of our living.


Humberto Maturana Interview (2009) by Ward Mailliard


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