edited by O Society July 1, 2019
The term autopoiesis (from Greek αὐτo- (auto-), meaning ‘self’, and ποίησις (-poiesis), meaning ‘creation, production’) refers to a system capable of reproducing and maintaining itself.
The original definition can be found in Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living (1st edition 1973, 2nd 1980):
autopoiesis: It was in these circumstances … in which he analyzed Don Quixote’s dilemma of whether to follow the path of arms (praxis, action) or the path of letters (poiesis, creation, production), I understood for the first time the power of the word “poiesis” and invented the word that we needed: autopoiesis. This was a word without a history, a word that could directly mean what takes place in the dynamics of the autonomy proper to living systems.
~ Varela Maturana
Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Who wishes to walk with me?
無因 wuyin (without cause)
Only he who complies with the Great Change and allows no blockage will be able to use them. Therefore it is said, The corrector must be correct. If the mind cannot accept this fact, then the doors of Heaven will never open!”
Confucius called on Lao Tan and spoke to him about benevolence and righteousness. Lao Tan said, “Chaff from the winnowing fan can so blind the eye that heaven, earth, and the four directions all seem to shift place. A mosquito or a horsefly stinging your skin can keep you awake a whole night. And when benevolence and righteousness in all their fearfulness come to muddle the mind , the confusion is unimaginable. If you want to keep the world from losing its simplicity, you must move with the freedom of the wind, stand in the perfection of Virtue.
Why all this huffing and puffing, as though you were carrying a big drum and searching for a lost child! The snow goose needs no daily bath to stay white; the crow needs no daily inking to stay black. Black and white in their simplicity offer no ground for argument; fame and reputation in their clamorousness offer no ground for envy. When the springs dry up and the fish are left stranded on the ground, they spew each other with moisture and wet each other down with spit – but it would be much better if they could forget each other in the rivers and lakes!”
When Confucius returned from his visit with Lao Tan, he did not speak for three days. His disciples said, “Master, you’ve seen Lao Tan – what estimation would you make of him?”
Confucius said, “At last I may say that I have seen a dragon – a dragon that coils to show his body at its best, that sprawls out to display his patterns at their best, riding on the breath of the clouds, feeding on the yin and yang. My mouth fell open and I couldn’t close it; my tongue flew up and I couldn’t even stammer. How could I possibly make any estimation of Lao Tan!”
Tzu-kung said, “Then is it true that the Perfect Man can command corpse-like stillness and dragon vision, the voice of thunder and the silence of deep pools; that he breaks forth into movement like Heaven and earth? If only I too could get to see him!”