Autopoiesis and Autonomy

That autonomy is a biological function may sound astonishing and novel in the ears of psychologists, but systems research has clearly brought to daylight that autonomy is built into the very structure of living systems. It’s thus not just an add-on to a modern education that prevents parent-child emotional entanglement, which was one of the flaws of authoritarian education with its unhealthy codependence between caretaker and child.

In order to explain the why and how, I need first elucidate what autopoiesis is. Fritjof Capra, in his book The Web of Life (1976) calls it ‘the pattern of life.’ According to system researchers Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, the key characteristic of a living network is that it continually produces itself.

Autopoiesis, or ‘self-making,’ is a network pattern in which the function of each component is to participate in the production or transformation of other components in the network. In this way the network continually makes itself. It is produced by its components and in turn produces those components.
—Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life (1996), 162

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