Life, the multiverse and everything: An introduction to the ideas of Humberto Maturana

This chapter introduces the central concerns of Humberto Maturana's theory of autopoiesis as they relate to the domain of psychotherapy. Several common terms which are redefined within his theory in an unusual manner are unpacked as to their idiosyncratic significance including the expressions, 'linguistic behaviour', 'languaging', 'structure determinism', 'organisation', 'structure' and others. The source material used for this exposition include not only the cited texts but also several workshops from which verbatim transcripts are often used in the form of brief quotations. I have attempted to stay as close to the original material as possible in order to convey both the meaning and the texture of Maturana's work. This is not an easy theory to grasp ranging as it does across several specialist fields from the neurophysiology of perception through social communication to epistemology. Nor are the implicative transitions from a theory of biology to the praxis of psychotherapy without complexity and controversy. Nonetheless, Maturana offers a novel theory of conversations which could form the basis of a much needed new paradigm for personal change.
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