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Humberto Maturana.

Humberto Maturana (born September 14, 1928, in Santiago, Chile) is a Chilean biologist and philosopher. He is considered a member of the second wave of cybernetics, known for developing a theory of autopoiesis about the nature of reflexive feedback control in living systems.[1]



After completing secondary school at the Liceo Manuel de Salas in 1947, Maturana enrolled at the University of Chile, studying first medicine then biology. In 1954, he obtained a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study anatomy and neurophysiology at University College London. He obtained a PhD in biology from Harvard University in 1958.

He works in neuroscience at the University of Chile, in the research center "Biología del Conocer" (Biology of Knowledge). Maturana's work has been developed and integrated into the work on Ontological Coaching done by Fernando Flores and Julio Olalla.

As of the year 2000, professor Maturana established his own reflection and research center: the Instituto de Formación Matriztica.


Maturana's work extends to philosophy and cognitive science and even to family therapy. He was early inspired by the work of the biologist Jakob von Uexküll.


Constructivist epistemology

Maturana and his student Francisco Varela were the first to define and employ the concept of autopoiesis. Aside from making important contributions to the field of evolution, Maturana is also a founder of constructivist epistemology or radical constructivism, an epistemology built upon empirical findings of neurobiology.

Maturana and Varela wrote in their Santiago Theory of Cognition: "Living systems are cognitive systems, and living as a process is a process of cognition. This statement is valid for all organisms, with or without a nervous system."

Biology of knowledge

At the Instituto de Formación Matriztica Maturana has contributed extensively to the Biology of knowledge and the biology of loving. At this point, Maturana has formulated, with Ximena Davila, new perspectives about human life and continues to do so. Psychology, the use of language, experience, and the general impulse to understand serve as explanatory bases for the depiction of human ways of life. In this way, they are proposing the notion of "Cultural biology" as the intertwinement and dynamic of the biology of knowledge and the biology of loving as a manner to present both cultural and biological bases of human existence.

See also


Books, a selection:

  • 1972 (with F.G. Varela). De máquinas y seres vivos. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria. English version: "Autopoiesis: the organization of the living," in Maturana, H. R., and Varela, F. G., 1980. Autopoiesis and Cognition. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Reidel.
  • 1982. Erkennen: Die Organisation und Verkörperung von Wirklichkeit. Wiesbaden: Friedrich Vieweg & Sohn Braunschweig.
  • 1987 (with F. J. Varela). The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding. Boston: Shambhala. ISBN 0-87773-373-2
  • (with F. J. Varela). Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living.
  • 1993 (with G. Verden-Zöller), Liebe und Spiel, die vergessene Grundlage der Menschlichkeit. Carl Auer Verlag.
  • 2004 (with Bernhard Poerksen). From Being to Doing. The Origins of the Biology of Cognition. Carl Auer International. ISBN 3896704486, ISBN 978-3896704481

Articles, chapters and papers, selection:


  1. ^ Johh lechte (1994). "Humberto Maturana". in: Fifty key contemporary thinkers: from structuralism to postmodernity. Routledge ISBN 0514326948. p.339-344

External links


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