Some Remarks on Autocatalysis and Autopoiesis
Presented at the workshop
Closure: Emergent Organizations and their Dynamics
May 3-5, 1999, University of Ghent, Belgium.
The notions of collective autocatalysis and of
autopoiesis are clearly related; equally clearly, they are not
quite the same. The purpose of this paper is to try to clarify
the relationship. Specifically I suggest that autopoiesis can
be at least roughly characterized as ``collective autocatalysis
spatial individuation''. While some
mechanism of spatial confinement or concentration is probably
necessary to the effective operation of any
autocatalytic reaction network, autopoiesis requires, in
addition, that the mechanism for maintaining this confinement
should itself be a product of the reaction network--and should
thus (?) be capable of separating or individuating otherwise
identically organized networks.
I suggest an informal heuristic test to discriminate the
(merely) collectively autocatalytic from the (properly?)
autopoietic. Finally, in the light of this, I review a variety
of published abstract or model systems
(Alchemy, -universes, Tierra, SCL).
Keys: Autopoiesis, Collective Autocatalysis, Individuality,
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