Publication 1143

Beer R. (2004) Autopoiesis and cognition in the game of life. Artificial Life 10: 309–326. Available at http://cepa.info/1143
Maturana and Varela’s notion of autopoiesis has the potential to transform the conceptual foundation of biology as well as the cognitive, behavioral, and brain sciences. In order to fully realize this potential, however, the concept of autopoiesis and its many consequences require significant further theoretical and empirical development. A crucial step in this direction is the formulation and analysis of models of autopoietic systems. This article sketches the beginnings of such a project by examining a glider from Conway’s game of life in autopoietic terms. Such analyses can clarify some of the key ideas underlying autopoiesis and draw attention to some of the central open issues. This article also examines the relationship between an autopoietic perspective on cognition and recent work on dynamical approaches to the behavior and cognition of situated, embodied agents. Relevance: The article focuses on the theory of autopoiesis and related concepts such as structural coupling and cognitive domain.

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