37 – Autopoiesis …

There is a beautiful side in human nature that is not explored because it would do away with religion as we know it.

Religion is beneficial in the sense that it brings people together to help other people, but it is poisonous when, in the words of Albert Camus, “to preserve its faith, it must deny the sun and humiliate free man”.[1] Religious dogma denies Reality and opts for fantastic fabrications to attract and intimidate its followers, and it punishes the natural inquisitiveness of the human mind by ‘damning’ those who question its irrational fabrications.

A beautiful side of us we are not allowed to explore has been explained in Autopoiesis, the mostly unknown yet compelling theory Humberto Maturana and Francisco Valera wrote in 1972.

Autopoiesis (from the Greek roots Auto which means Self, and Poiesis which means Creating) is self-creating. An Autopoietic System ‘is a network in which the function of each component is to participate in the production or transformation of other components within the System’.

The properties of Autopoietic Systems can be summarized in terms of three criteria: Self-bounded, self-generating and Self-perpetuating.

  • ‘To be Self-bounded means that the System’s extension is determined by a boundary that is an integral part of the network’: Think of the membrane of a cell.
  • ‘To be Self-generating means that all components, including those of the boundary, are produced by processes within the network’: Think of an entire human body produced out of two cells.
  • ‘To be Self-perpetuating means that the production processes continue over time, so that all components are continually replaced while the System preserves its pattern of organization’: Think again about the human body and how it preserves its basic configuration while most of its components are constantly being replaced. [2]

Although composed of other systems that are themselves changing and constantly being regenerated, and although embedded within other systems that are on their own changing and being regenerated, the Autopoietic System maintains a basic configuration that is continuous, progressive and self-preserving.

Like atoms, or cells, or species, or planetary systems, we … every one of us without exception … are self-contained inside a boundary that defines the configuration of our bodies; and we are self-generating in the sense that we consume energy sources from the environment to generate and replace and refine our components; and we are self-perpetuating in the sense that we not only find a way to build a continuous form of existence in time and space, but are driven by a primordial force that seeks pleasure and incites the satisfaction of urges that perpetuate the species.

But because this primordial force urges us to seek pleasure, and sex is the most electrifying expression of pleasure; and because consensual sex can be the closest experience to joining and arousing primordial forces, religion inhibits not only its exploration, but the knowledge that we are essentially created by the urge to seek pleasure, and not by deities imagined thousands of years ago by men with archaic knowledge of Nature and a frantic need to control the rising inquisitiveness of the human mind.

Autopoiesis allows us to explore the self-creating and self-generating side of human nature; it allows us to see that we are driven by Primal Forces that endow us with the capacity to create and refine a form of existence that can break away from its own boundaries and perpetuate its own species.

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Revised May 2018

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[1] Albert Camus’ “The Rebel”

[2] ‘Excerpts’ from F. Capra’s “The Web of Life”

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