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Humberto Maturana

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 theRockefeller Foundation to study anatomy and neurophysiology atUniversity 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 Ontologicalcoaching done by Fernando Flores and Julio Olalla.

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


Maturana's inspiration for his work in cognition came while he was a medical student and became seriously ill with tuberculosis. Confined in a sanatorium with very little to read, he spent time reflecting on his condition and the nature of life. What he came to realize was "that what was peculiar to living systems was that they were discrete autonomous entities such that all the processes that they lived, they lived in reference to themselves ... whether a dog bites me or doesn't bite me, it is doing something that has to do with itself." This paradigm of autonomy formed the basis of his studies and work. 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."

Cultural biology

At the Instituto de Formación Matríztica Maturana has contributed extensively to the Biology of knowledge and the biology of loving. At this point, Maturana has formulated 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.


  • MATURANA, Humberto and Varela, Francisco (1984). The tree of knowledge. Biological basis of human understanding. Revised edition (1992) The Tree of Knowledge: Biological Roots of Human Understanding.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Objectivity - An argument to force. Santiago de Chile: Ed Dolmen, 1997.
  • MATURANA, Humberto and Varela, Francisco. Machines and living things. Autopoiese to do Organização Vivo. Porto Alegre: Medical Arts, 1997.
  • MATURANA, Humberto and Varela, Francisco (1979). Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science). Paperback, 1991.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Erkennen: Die Organisation von und Verkörperung Wirklichkeit. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn Braunschweig. Wiesbaden, 1982.
  • MATURANA, Humberto Biology of Cognition and epistemology. Ed Universidad de la Frontera. Temuco, Chile. 1990.
  • MATURANA, Humberto and K. Ludewig. Conversations with Humberto Maturana: Questions to biologist Psychotherapist. Ed Universidad de la Frontera. Temuco, Chile. 1992.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Democracy is a Work of Art. Collection Roundtable. Linotype Ed Bogota Bolivar y Cia. 1994.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Origin of the Human in the Biology of privacy. Ed Institute for Cognitive Therapy, Santiago. (In Print. I have a first draft).
  • MATURANA, Humberto, Verden-Zoller, G. Amore and Gioco. Ed Marsilio, Venice. (In Print).
  • MATURANA, Humberto, Kurt Ludewig. Reflections and Conversations. Collection Family Institute. FUPALI Ed. Cordova. 1994
  • MATURANA, Humberto and POERKSEN, Bernhard. From Being to Doing, The Origins of the Biology of Cognition. Paperback, 2004. Tradução in Spanish: From Being to Doing.
  • MATURANA, Humberto, Verden-Zoller, Gerda and Brunnell, Pille. The Origins of humanness in the Biology of Love. Paperback, 2009.
  • Maturana, HR, Verden-Zoller, G. Spiel und Liebe, die Vergessene Grundladge des Menschlichkeit. Carl Auer Verlag, Hamburg. 1993. Also Appeared in Spanish:
  • MATURANA, Humberto. From biology to psychology. Paperback, 2004.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Sense of humanity. Paperback, 2009.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. A da Realidade Ontology. Belo Horizonte: Ed UFMG, 1997.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Emoções and linguagem na na educação and politics. Emotions and Language in Education Policy and Belo Horizonte: UFMG, 1998.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Reality: objective or built? I: Biological basis of reality. Barcelona: Anthropos Editorial, 1996a.
  • MATURANA, Humberto. Reality: objective or built? II: Biological basis of knowledge. Barcelona: Anthropos Editorial, 1996b.
  • MATURANA, H.; Rezepka, SN and Capacitação Formação human. Petropolis: Vozes, 2002
  • MATURANA, H.; Verden-Zoller, G. Love and jumping: fundamentals esquecidos human do. São Paulo: Editora Pallas Athena, 2004.
  • MATURANA, H. "Biology of language: The epistemology of reality," in Miller, George A., and Elizabeth Lenneberg (eds.), Psychology and Biology of Language and Thought: Essays in Honor of Eric Lenneberg. Academic Press: 27-63. 1978
  • MATURANA, H. Man and society in Benseler, Hejl, and Köck: 11-32.1980
  • MATURANA, H. "Ontology of Observing, The biological foundations of self-consciousness and the physical domain of existence" Conference Workbook: Texts in Cybernetics, American Society for Cybernetics Conference, Felton, CA. October 18-23, 1988.
  • MATURANA, H. "REALITY: The Search for Objectivity or the Quest for a Compelling Argument" The Irish Journal of Psychology 9: 25-82. 1988
  • MATURANA, H. "The origin of the theory of autopoietic systems," in Fischer, HR (ed.), Autopoiesis. Eine Theorie der Kritik im Brennpunkt. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1991
  • MATURANA, Humberto R. and Mpodozis, Jorge. De l'origine des espèces par voie of dérive naturelle. The diversification des à travers la conservation lignées et le changement des ontogéniques phenotypes. Paperback, 1999.
  • Maturana HR & Davila XY (2008) Human Inhabiting six-cultural biology assays. Saez JC, Santiago de Chile.
  • MELERO, Miguel Lopez. Talking with Maturana education. Paperback, 2009.


A drawing in zero time
  • cognition
  • autopoiesis
  • languaging
  • zero time cybernetics
  • structural determined systems


  1. ^ Johh lechte (1994). "Humberto Maturana". in: Fifty key contemporary thinkers: from structuralism to postmodernity. Routledge ISBN 0-514-32694-8. p.339-344
  2. ^ Systems Thinkers, by Magnus Ramage, Karen Shipp
  3. ^ Systems Thinkers, by Magnus Ramage, Karen Shipp
  4. ^ Maturana, Humberto R./Varela, Francisco J. (1980): Autopoiesis and Cognition. The Realization of the Living. Dordrecht: Reidel, p. 13.

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