Rogues Corner

Humberto Maturana

Humberto Maturana was born in Santiago, Chile in September 1928. He began studying medicine in 1950 and received a PhD in biology from Harvard in 1958. In 1954 he studied anatomy and neurophysiology at University College London. He joined Heinz von Foerster at the Biological Computer Lab at the University of Illinois as a visiting professor from 1969-70.

Known variously as a biologist, cybernetician and scientist, Maturana is probably best known for developing the concept of autopoiesis with his student Francisco Varela. This concept of autopoiesis, self-production, came from his readings of Bateson, Wittgenstein, Vico among others. It is a paradigm that insists on the autonomy of living systems and examines the reflexive feedback mechanisms they use. His work has been very influential in the biology of cognition, cybernetics, systems theory and beyond. His publications include:

Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living (with Varela) (1979)
The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding (with Varela) (1992)
From Being to Doing: The Origins of the Biology of Cognition (with Poerksen) (2004)



Here is a link to a rare video of Maturana in conversation with Heinz von Foerster in 1998 discussing the nature of validity and verification in science: available here