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Welcome to The Observer Web Book Shop -- your online direct channel for obtaining literature on autopoiesis and enaction.

The key books in this area are not commonly stocked by local booksellers, and many of them are only available via special order.

Other relevant materials (e.g., videos) are not widely distributed through commercial outlets, and you may not know they exist, much less where to acquire them.

I have established the Book Shop page as a convenience for those of you who would like to explore Maturana and Varela's work, but who are having trouble finding publications and other materials.


You can also...

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  • Complete information on services and policies can be found once you get to their Webspace.

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  • lists both new / in-print and used / out-of-print books. For books not readily available (e.g., out-of-print), will allow you to order the book on the condition that they can locate a copy for you. For used / hard-to-find books which are not readily available, will notify you of the book's condition and price before you make a final commitment to purchase it.

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 PRIMARY MATERIALS on Autopoiesis and Enaction
This section lists the primary publications you should read to obtain a comprehensive grounding in the foundations of autopoietic theory.

The listings are organized in the descending order of importance (i.e., from most to least important) as judged by this editor.



Maturana, Humberto, and Francisco Varela

Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science [ Cohen, Robert S., and Marx W. Wartofsky (eds.) ], Vol. 42, Dordecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1980.

This has to be considered the main published reference on autopoiesis. The book contains two key papers reprinted with an extended introduction by Maturana and a preface by Stafford Beer. Short but painstakingly detailed, this is the theory in a concentrated form. Navigating the book can be greatly facilitated with the extensive Topical Index I've compiled and made available here on The Observer Web.

This is the one book to get if you're only going to read one book on the subject.

Listed in two formats at Amazon (at a discounted price):


OR: Pursue the book directly from the publisher (Kluwer) [Full Retail Price]


Varela, Francisco J.

Principles of Biological Autonomy, New York: Elsevier (North Holland), 1979.

This is Varela's 'magnum opus' on autopoiesis. Highly recommended as an introduction to the field. His exposition of autopoiesis vs. the more general concept of 'autonomy' helps put the theory into a broader context. This is also the single best introduction to Varela's attempts during the 1970's to develop a mathematical nomenclature for his work -- especially his exploration of the theories of George Spencer Brown on 'distinction' as the fundamental act of cognition. In an Internet-based search for data on Brown and his work, one conclusion was that Varela's book was the best single introduction to that work (less dense than Brown's own Laws of Form).


Unfortunately, Principles of Biological Autonomy is out of print. Amazon lists two entries for the book (given below).




Varela, Francisco J., Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch

The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience, Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1991. Paperback edition released in 1993.

This is the primary reference on enaction, in which a new enactive cognitive science is outlined and promoted. However, owing to its lack of explicit links to Varela's earlier work, it cannot be used as an entry point to autopoietic theory. It is recommended that the reader digest some of the primary literature listed above before reading this book. It is much easier to understand Varela's subsequent call for an enactive approach once you have absorbed the thrusts and nuances of his work on autopoietic theory.

The Embodied Mindwas reviewed in The Observer (issue #1, 1993).



Mingers, John

Self-Producing Systems: Implications and Applications of Autopoiesis, New York: Plenum Publishing, 1994.

This book's strength is contextualizing the origin and the proliferation of autopoietic theory. It is a good resource for researching what happened after Maturana and Varela's original publications. It covers the basics of autopoietic theory, plus the many uses and critical analyses to which the theory has been put. Mingers does a good job of laying out the issues relevant to autopoietic theory. This makes an excellent companion volume to Autopoiesis and Cognition.



Maturana, Humberto, and Francisco Varela

The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding, Boston: Shambhala / New Science Press, 1987. Revised paperback edition released in 1992.

This book is a summary popular account of Maturana and Varela's ideas. Many of the basic concepts are introduced here, but some of them (including the key concept of autopoiesis) are not defined to the same degree of detail one finds in Maturana & Varela (1980) or the seminal 1970's-era articles. In other words, The Tree of Knowledge will give you a basic taste of Maturana and Varela's ideas.



Segal, Lynn

The Dream of Reality: Heinz von Foerster's Constructivism, New York: W. W. Norton, 1986. Second printing (Revised edition?): Springer-Verlag, 2001.

This book concentrates on von Foerster and epistemological constructivism. However, Segal relies heavily on Maturana and Varela's work to introduce the relationships between observers' biological constitutions and their constructivistic mode of operation. A good introduction to constructivism generally and von Foerster's (otherwise difficult to obtain) work specifically.

I love this book as an introduction to constructivism. Given its extensive attention to Maturana's theories, I personally prefer The Dream of Reality over The Tree of Knowledge as the first book to recommend to someone beginning their exploration of this area.



Zeleny, Milan (ed.)

Autopoiesis, Dissipative Structures, and Spontaneous Social Orders, AAAS Selected Symposium 55 (AAAS National Annual Meeting, Houston TX, Jan. 3-8, 1979), Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1980.

A good collection of papers on autopoiesis and related theoretical approaches.



Zeleny, Milan (ed.)

Autopoiesis: A Theory of Living Organization, New York: North Holland, 1981.(Vol. 3 in the North Holland Series in General Systems Research).

An excellent collection of papers from writers (primarily from systems science) contextualizing and/or critiquing autopoietic theory. This is a central source of responses / reviews to Maturana & Varela's theories.



von Krogh, Georg, and Johan Roos

Organizational Epistemology, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

A recent (and well-informed) application of autopoietic theory to enterprise knowledge building. This book has a broad scope, and the authors bring a wide variety of the relevant literature to bear on the issues they address. There's enough material here to constitute a minor tutorial on autopoiesis, but it's organized with respect to the authors' theme of organizational knowledge processes. If this is the only relevant book you can obtain, there's enough here to give you much of the theory's basic tenets, especially with respect to interaction and language.



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 SECONDARY MATERIALS on Autopoiesis and Enaction
This section lists additional publications you can read to expand and/or augment your understanding of autopoietic theory and the ways in which scholars have reviewed, critiqued, and applied it.

The listings are organized in alphabetical order of (lead) author.



Capra, Fritjof

The Web of Life : A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems , New York: Anchor Books, 1996.

Capra, well-known author of prior provocative books on science (e.g., The Turning Point), now turns his sights on life and living systems. This book offers his synthesis of the concepts delineating an emerging perspective on living systems and, by extension, self-organizing systems in general. Capra reviews the last three decades' most significant theoretical innovations (e.g., dissipative structures, complexity studies) on the way to a summary overview which prominently highlights Maturana and Varela's work.

Capra's estimation of Maturana and Varela's contributions is best presented in his own words (excerpted from a talk in late 1996):

"The Santiago theory of cognition, I believe, is the first scientific theory that overcomes the Cartesian division of mind and matter, and will thus have the most far-reaching implications. Mind and matter no longer appear to belong to two separate categories, but can be seen as representing two complementary aspects of the phenomenon of life - the process aspect and the structure aspect. At all levels of life, beginning with the simplest cell, mind and matter, process and structure, are inseparably connected. Mind is immanent in living matter as the process of self-organization. For the first time, we have a scientific theory that unifies mind, matter and life."

By his own admission, Capra intends this book to be an update to Erich Jantsch's Self-Organizing Universe -- a classic book on self-organization written before autopoietic theory had been fully formed. In addition to providing summary introductions to some of autopoietic theory's main tenets, this book contextualizes Maturana and Varela's work with respect to other streams of more popularly known work. This contextualization may be the most important contribution of this book to those already familiar with autopoietic theory. The repeated emphasis on Maturana and Varela could well make this book the catalyst to a (long-overdue) proliferation of interest in autopoiesis.



Efran, Jay S., Lukens, Michael D., and Robert J. Lukens

Language, Structure, and Change: Frameworks of Meaning in Psychotherapy, New York: W. W. Norton, 1990.

This is the only book-length work on the application of Maturana's theories of languaging to psychotherapy. These authors note that many of the problems which clients have can be framed as 'self-referential paradoxes' in the course of communicating with others and themselves. Invoking the linguistic aspects of autopoietic theory, the book continues to a practical outlook on how the 'new epistemology' can inform therapeutic practice.

"This is a readable and thought-provoking book that applies Humberto Maturana's theory of structure determinism to the field of psychotherapy. The book advances ideas that will challenge ingrained assumptions regarding processes of communication, causation, control and change. The proposed model for understanding what makes human beings "tick" can obviously serve as a helpful, general guide for those who practice psychotherapy. In addition, this framework may also be of significant benefit to anyone who is in the business of influencing other human beings." - Co-author Michael D. Lukens, Ph.D.

You can find a more detailed review of this book in The Observer (issue #11, 1995).



In't Veld, R. J., L. Schaap, C.J.A.M. Termeer, and M.J.W. van Twist (eds.)

Autopoiesis and Configuration Theory: New Approaches to Social Steering, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1991.

This collection addresses how applying autopoietic theory to public administration and policy can generate new insights regarding the (im)possibilities of societal steering.



Jantsch, Erich

The Self-Organizing Universe : Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1980.

This book was for many years the de facto landmark publication on the general theme of self-organization. Jantsch's orientation to this topic was heavily focussed on Prigogine's dissipative structures, but he discusses autopoietic theory to a substantial degree. Fritjof Capra's Web of Life is ostensibly an update to the state of the art as reported by Jantsch a decade and a half earlier. by Erich Jantsch



Krohn, Wolfgang, Kuppers, Gunter, and Helga Nowotny (eds.)

Selforganization : Portrait of a Scientific Revolution, Dordrecht / Boston: Kluwer, 1990.

This is a very satisfying collection of essays on issues of self-organization and its relationship with constructivism. Of particular note is Maturana's essay entitled 'Science and daily life: The ontology of scientific explanations'. Also includes essays by Gunter Teubner, Niklas Luhmann, and Peter Hejl.



Luhmann, Niklas
(John Bednarz, Jr., and Dirk Baecker, Translators)

Social Systems, Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.

This is the English translation of Luhmann's 1984 landmark book Soziale Systeme. As such, it is the primary English-language book on Luhmann's ascription of autopoiesis to social systems. Available in two formats:


Luhmann, Niklas

Essays on Self-Reference, New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

This is another of the (all too few) substantial English language specimens of Luhmann's theories on social systems as self-organizing (and even autopoietic) entities.



Morgan, Gareth

Images of Organization, Beverly Hills CA: Sage, 1986.

Gareth Morgan is a widely-known writer on management and organizational issues. In this 1986 analysis of organizations, he invokes autopoiesis in his development of a perspective on enterprises as self-organizing entities. Based on this (some of) his discussion of organizational change and development are framed with respect to autopoiesis. This book represents the initial substantive treatise suggesting application of autopoietic theory to organizational and management studies (as opposed to Luhmann's application to societies in general...). The second edition of this landmark book, published in November 1996, is available in two formats:


Teubner, Gunther (ed.)

Autopoietic Law: A New Approach to Law and Society, Berlin / New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1988.

This is a compendium of papers on the application of autopoietic theory to the field of law. Many of these papers are of interest in terms of the (potential) relations / applications of autopoiesis to social systems in general, particularly with regard to Niklas Luhmann's approach. What is especially interesting about this collection is that Luhmann's ascription of autopoiesis to a socially-manifested system is at its most compelling when applied to the field of law. Although the topical focus is law, many of the points found in the papers are equally applicable to consideration of social systems in general.



Teubner, Gunther, Anne Bankowska, and Ruth Adler (Translator)

Law As an Autopoietic System (The European University Institute Press Series), London: Blackwell, 1993.

I have not read this more recent book by Teubner on autopoiesis and law. The only recommendations I can make about it are that (a) its recency hopefully implies views of a more developed nature than his 1988 collection and (b) it is significantly less expensive than that earlier volume.



Ulrich, Hans, and Gilbert J. B. Probst (eds.)

Self-Organization and Management of Social Systems: Insights, Promises, Doubts, and Questions,(Springer Series in Synergetics, Vol 26), Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1984.

Although not specifically dedicated to autopoietic theory, this collection contains a number of interesting and relevant papers concerning social systems. The two articles most specific to autopoietic theory are Peter Hejl's 'Towards a theory of social systems' (highly recommended for an alternative to Luhmann's well-known approach) and Varela's 'Two principles for self-organization'.



Winograd, Terry, and Fernando Flores

Understanding Computers and Cognition, Norwood NJ: Ablex, 1986. Reissue edition released in 1995.

This popular book includes a brief introduction to the basics of autopoietic theory, at least with respect to perception, cognition, and communication. This entry point is not the best, but it is very accessible owing to the popularity of the book. I don't recommend stopping after having read this book alone.



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This section lists additional books and materials that can expand and/or augment your understanding of topics and themes related to autopoietic theory and/or the orientations it involves.

The listings are organized in alphabetical order of (lead) author.



Amselek, Paul, and Neil MacCormick (eds.)

Controversies About Law's Ontology (Edinburgh Law and Society Series), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991.



Andrew, Alex M.

Self-Organizing Systems (Studies in Cybernetics, Vol 18), Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, 1989.

"The subject of self-organizing systems has been a central theme of cybernetics and general systems theory since their inception. This work both reviews and develops the field, providing a discussion of fundamental issues and setting the subject in a practical context by examining its implications for artificial intelligence, neurophysiology and other related areas." -Book News, Inc.



Brown, George Spencer

Laws of Form, Portland OR: Cognizer Press, 1994.

This provocative book outlines a 'calculus of indications' based upon a fundamental operation of distinction. In his 1979 Principles of Biological Autonomy, Varela intensively analyzes and builds upon Spencer Brown's calculus as a tool for addressing distinctions as fundamental cognitive acts. Originally published in 1969, this hard-to-find volume was reprinted in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, and 1979. Different prefaces constituted some editions' primary addition to the previous one(s). The 1994 edition includes the Prefaces for the 1969, 1972, and 1979 editions.



Dalenoort, G. J. (ed.)

The Paradigm of Self Organization : Current Trends in Self-Organization (Studies in Cybernetics, Vol 19), Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, 1989.

This volume of essays is not specifically focused on autopoietic theory per se. However, many of the contributors invoke Maturana and Varela's work in addressing the more general notion of self-organization and its relevance to a variety of fields.

"In April 1985, immediately following the European Meeting on Systems Research and Cybernetics, a small international group assembled to discuss the status of thought and work relating to "self-organizing systems"; this nicely produced volume contains 16 essays derived (in the main) from that meeting. Though a few of the papers contain mathematical material, most are qualitative, and would be accessible to attentive non-technical readers. Generally speaking, the effort of the authors is to identify and to underscore the radical elements in the self-organization concept, to promote that concept (now rather less talked about than for awhile it was) to the status of a "paradigm"." - Book News, Inc.



Foerster, Heinz von

Observing Systems, Seaside CA: Intersystems Publications, 1981.

This book brings together von Foerster's writings on second-order cybernetics, the role of the observer in delineating systems, the observer as a systemic entity, and the paradoxes inherent therein. Not a book on autopoiesis per se, but a very informative background text illuminating the general stance or perspective applicable to Maturana and Varela's work.



Geyer, R. Felix, and J. Van Der Zouwen (eds.)

Sociocybernetics : Complexity, Autopoiesis, and Observation of Social Systems (Contributions in Sociology, No. 132), Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.

"In an effort to shed light on recent developments in sociocybernetic research, this volume represents recent and advanced thinking in this rapidly developing field. The authors address the core problems in social science caused by increasing societal complexity and analyze the inadequacy of many of the methodological tools still used for grappling with nonlinear, self-organizing systems. Together, the 18 contributors propose elements of a new methodology based on sociocybernetic principles aimed at describing and explaining the growth of societal complexity, the contribution of "autopoiesis" of societal subunits to more societal complexity, and the new simulation-based methodology needed to observe complex social systems. This unique volume contributes to a greater understanding of sociocybernetics and its uses as a method for researching modern problems of increasing complexity and interdependence." -Book description at



Glasersfeld, Ernst von

Radical Constructivism : A Way of Knowing and Learning (Studies in Mathematics Education Series, No 6) , London: Falmer Press, 1995. Paperback edition released in 1996.

Ernst von Glasersfeld is a primary proponent of constructivist epistemology, and the formulator of 'radical constructivism'. His epistemological positions parallel in large part Maturana and Varela's 'phenomenology of the living'. This is von Glaserfeld's autobiographical review of his development of 'radical constructivism', which correlates with the epistemological positions of Maturana and Varela. This is probably the best introduction to von Glaserfeld's views on epistemology and learning. Available in two formats:


Goertzel, Ben

From Complexity to Creativity : Explorations in Evolutionary, Autopoietic, and Cognitive Dynamics (IFSR International Series on Systems Science and Engineering), Plenum Press: 1997.

"Presents a combination of interconnected theoretical, computational, and mathematical investigations, and a continuation of the research established in the author's previous books. Goertzel's (U. of Western Australia) psynet model is presented more clearly than in his earlier work, and the connections between this model and other approaches to complex cognitive systems are drawn in detail. Topics include dynamical systems, genetic algorithms, perceptual illusions, fractals, autopoietic systems, consciousness, time series analysis, dreams, personality theory, the World Wide Web." -Book News, Inc.



Hocking, Brent, Johnna Haskell, and Warren Linds (eds.)

Unfolding Bodymind: Exploring Possibility Through Education, Volume Three of the Foundations of Holistic Education Series, Psychology Press/Holistic Education Press, Box 328, Brandon, VT 05733-0328, 2001.

Pre-publication book description available at:


Excerpts from the book description:

Unfolding Bodymind is a gathering of bold, fascinating ideas by twenty-one educators exploring the frontiers of contemporary educational thought and practice. The authors are engaged in various ways with the task of overcoming the philosophical separation of the mind from the physical world that has characterized Western culture, especially our educational practices, since Descartes at the dawn of the scientific era. ...

Body and mind form an inseparable whole; thus, knowing is no longer simply a "cognitive" process but an engagement of the integrated "bodymind" with the environment. ...

Inspired by several streams of unconventional thinking--Buddhism, phenomenology, the holistic biology of Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana, and an exquisite ecological sensibility such as that in David Abram's work (The Spell of the Sensuous)--the authors construct a strong philosophical foundation for a holistic understanding of knowing, teaching, and learning.


Johnson, Mark

The Body In The Mind: The Bodily Basis Of Meaning, Imagination, And Reason, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. Paperback reprint edition released in 1990.

This book doesn't invoke autopoiesis, but its exploration of embodiment as the basis for cognition is certainly relevant to the epistemology of autopoietic theory and enactive cognitive science.



Kampis, George

Self-Modifying Systems in Biology and Cognitive Science, Pergamon Press, 1991.



King, Michael

A Better World for Children? : Explorations in Morality and Authority, Routledge, 1997.

"By exploring such diverse issues as the management of child abuse, legal reforms following sex abuse enquiries, moral explanations for child murderers, actions, the impossible task faced by social workers and the limitations of children's rights campaigns, Michael King examines the revolutionary ideas of the social theorist, Niklas Luhmann, and demonstrates how his theory of authopoietic systems compels readers to re-examine exactly what they mean by society. Questioning the relationship between personal morality and political will, it challenges the assumption that changing society is merely a matter of changing attitudes and highlights the pitfalls associated with formulating social reform. A Better World for Children? will be valuable reading for all professionals in training and practice whose work brings them into close daily contact with children." - Book description from


Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson

Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought, New York: Basic Books, 1999.

The phrase 'embodied mind' in the title of this book does not mean that Lakoff and Johnson explicitly address or follow on the ideas Varela, Thompson and Rosch explored in their 1991 book. In fact, The Embodied Mind is never cited at all. On the other hand, Lakoff and Johnson address similar 'topical territory' in exploring the intersection of cognitive science and philosophy. A relevant book on conceptual issues of embodiment and cognition.

"George Lakoff and Mark Johnson take on the daunting task of rebuilding Western philosophy in alignment with three fundamental lessons from cognitive science: The mind is inherently embodied, thought is mostly unconscious, and abstract concepts are largely metaphorical. Why so daunting? "Cognitive science--the empirical study of the mind--calls upon us to create a new, empirically responsible philosophy, a philosophy consistent with empirical discoveries about the nature of mind," they write. "A serious appreciation of cognitive science requires us to rethink philosophy from the beginning, in a way that would put it more in touch with the reality of how we think." In other words, no Platonic forms, no Cartesian mind-body duality, no Kantian pure logic. Even Noam Chomsky's generative linguistics is revealed under scrutiny to have substantial problems. -Book description at



Lakoff, George, and Rafael Nuñez

Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being, New York: Basic Books, 2000.

From the Back Cover:

"This book is about mathematical ideas, about what mathematics means-and why. It is concerned not just with which theorems are true, but with what theorems mean and why they are true by virtue of what they mean. And it provides an answer to one of the deepest problems of the philosophy of mathematics: how a being with a finite brain and mind can comprehend infinity. This is the first full-scale serious study of the cognitive science of mathematical ideas. It provides a Theory of Embodied Mathematics. It is the first attempt at a rigorous methodology for Mathematical Idea Analysis - a cognitive analysis of the structure of mathematical ideas, of how those ideas are rooted in everyday bodily experience, what cognitive mechanisms they use, and how they are related to one another."



Maturana, Humberto

Biology of Cognition & Biology of Love

A video set offered for purchase by:

Family Nursing Unit
Faculty of Nursing
University of Calgary

From the online description:

"Dr. Maturana's workshop presentation is now available as a set of 5 videotapes! Dr. Maturana is a distinguished scientist, biologist, and educator who resides in Santiago, Chile, where he is professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Chile. The 5 videotape set includes Dr. Maturana's entire presentation from the Calgary 1998 workshop."

Information on purchasing this videotape set can be accessed at:


Maturana, Humberto, and Heinz von Foerster

Truth and Trust

A video set produced as a joint venture between The American Society for Cybernetics and Change Management Systems.

The video set consists of three conversations:

Truth and Trust
What are we doing when we verify and when we validate a statement? Does verification establish truth? Is there a role for trust in science?

Future to be Determined
The biology of cognition reveals that the student learns the teacher. If this is the case, what must the teacher do to teach well? What matters in education nowadays?

The Matrix that Embeds
We may look at objects or at the relationship between them, but either implies making a distinction. What is the ground from which we make distinctions?

Offered for purchase by the American Society for Cybernetics.

Information on purchasing this videotape set can be accessed at:


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice

Phenomenology of Perception, Humanities Press, 1992.

Francisco Varela once remarked to me that if there were a significant philosophical precursor to the orientations he pursued in autopoietic theory, it would have to be Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology of Perception is his magnum opus.



Nuñez, Rafael, and Walter J. Freeman (eds.)

Reclaiming Cognition: The Primacy of Action, Intention and Emotion, Imprint Academic Press, 2000.

Hubert Dreyfus makes the following review comments:

"This collection is a valuable contribution to the elaboration and application of an understanding of mind and brain as situated and embodied. As such, it is timely and important. Although it is unlikely anyone will agree with all the papers, together they pose a challenge every cognitive scientist, neuroscientist and philosopher has to face."



Petitot, Jean, Varela, Francisco J., Pachoud, Bernard, and Jean-Michel Roy (eds.)

Naturalizing Phenomenology : Issues in Contemporary Phenomenology and Cognitive Science (Writing Science), Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.


Schumacher College
The Tree of Knowledge (Video)

From the online description:

"BRIAN GOODWIN, former Professor of Biology at the Open University, shows images of complexity in nature and discusses how a science of qualities is important in studying them.

HUMBERTO MATURANA, Professor of Biology at the University of Chile, talks about language and communication and asks ³what are we doing when we use language?² discussing the implications for education. He also gives a talk about plans, and why they go amiss."

Offered for purchase by Schumacher College Ordering information at:


Thompson, Evan

Colour Vision : A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception (Philosophical Issues in Science), Routledge, 1995.

In this book, one of Varela's Embodied Mind co-authors explores perception and cognition with respect to color vision.


Thompson, Patrick W., and Leslie P. Steffe (eds.)

Radical Constructivism in Action : Building on the Pioneering Work of Ernst von Glasersfeld, Falmer Press, 2000.



Thompson, William Irwin (ed.)

Gaia, a Way of Knowing : Political Implications of the New Biology, Hudson NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1987.

A collection of essays on the nascent ecological / Gaian worldview and its ramifications. Includes an article by Maturana entitled 'Everything said is said by an observer', as well as a piece by Varela entitled 'Laying down a path in walking'.



Thompson, William Irwin (ed.)

Gaia 2 : Emergence : The New Science of Becoming, Hudson NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1991.

A second collection of Gaia-oriented essays, including Varela and Anspach's 'Immu-knowledge: the process of somatic individuation' (cf. Varela's most recent work on immunology).



Timm, Eitel, Mendoza, Kenneth, and Dale Gowen (eds.)

Textuality and Subjectivity : Essays on Language and Being (Studies in English and American Literature, Linguistics, and Culture, Vol. 9), Camden House Publishers, 1991.



Timm, Eitel, and Kenneth Mendoza (eds.)

The Poetics of Reading (Textuality and Subjectivity, Vol 2), Camden House Publishers, 1993.



Varela, Francisco J., and Jeremy W. Hayward (eds.)

Gentle Bridges : Conversations With the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind, Boston: Shambhala, 1992.

Although not specifically focused on autopoiesis or enaction per se, this novel series of dialogues with the Dalai Lama illustrates Varela's commitment to linking Buddhist philosophy with Western cognitive studies. This makes a nice companion volume on the Buddhism-oriented aspects of The Embodied Mind.



(Varela, Francisco J., editor and narrator)

Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying : An Exploration of Consciousness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Wisdom Publications, 1997.

The second book Varela produced addressing the Dalai Lama's viewpoints on experience, cognition, and epistemology.

"Sleeping, Dreaming, And Dying is an exploration of Consciousness with the Dalai Lama edited and narrated by Francisco Varela. Sleeping, Dreaming, And Dying is the account of an historic dialogue between leading Western scientists and one of the foremost representatives of Buddhism today, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Revolving around the three key moments of consciousness of sleep, dreams, and death. Sleeping, Dreaming, And Dying is engrossing and highly readable, whether the topic is lucid dreaming, near death experiences, or the very structure of consciousness itself, this unique exchange between the Dali Lama and philosopher Charles Taylor, psychoanalyst Joyce McDougall, psychologist Jayne Gackenbach, cultural ecologist Joan Halifax, and neuroscientist Jerome Engle will delight any reader with an interest in Buddhism, psychology, ;neuroscience, the alternative worlds of dream, and the afterlife." - Midwest Book Review



Varela, Francisco J.

Ethical Know-How : Action, Wisdom, and Cognition (Writing Science), Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.



Varela, Francisco J. (ed.), with introduction by Jonathan Shear

The View from Within, Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

"Since William James, there has been remarkably little attention in the sciences of the mind to the detailed investigation of conscious experience at the personal level. The View from Within advances such investigation along several fronts, with articles on introspection, phenomenology, and meditative psychology. Especially valuable is the editors' introduction, which provides a useful guide to the methodology of first-person accounts, and the articles that build bridges to cognitive science, psychiatry, and the scientific study of meditation techniques. Invited commentaries by leading investigators of consciousness, together with authors' replies, make for a provocative presentation that will be discussed for some time to come." -Evan Thompson



Watzlawick, Paul (ed.)

Invented Reality : How Do We Know What We Believe We Know?, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1984.

This collection of essays addresses epistemological constructivism. It includes an article by Varela entitled 'The creative circle: Sketches on the natural history of circularity'.



Watzlawick, Paul

How Real Is Real? : Confusion, Disinformation, Communication, New York: Random House, 1977.

This earlier work by Watzlawick is a puckish popular book challenging the notions of naive epistemological objectivism. It is a nice low-intensity introduction to the general idea of epistemological constructivism.



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