Scott H. Boyd
This article questions the predominance of pragmatism and fixed points of reference in academic paradigms regarding culture and proposes a theory of autopoietic culture based on a theory of living forms developed by the biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. The central part of the theory of autopoietic culture is that culture, something originating with humanity and reflected upon by the same, is an autonomous and autonomic unity that is a network of processes and production of components that are continuously generated and “recursively participate through their interactions in the generation and realization of the network of process of production of components which produced them” (Maturana, 1999: 149, 153). This article briefly refers to the theories of Thomas Sebeok, Juri Lotman, Niklas Luhmann and Pierre Bourdieu, which have similar components to the theory of autopoietic culture. The article concludes that within autopoietic culture whatever we would consider describing as a cultural element is not as significant as the processes within which it is part in the construction of its own boundary of discernment; our description of the process is always conducted with other observers in a linguistic domain; our existence carries its own ontogeny and creates perturbations in the structure (elements) which we distinguish; and there are an unknown number of elements and processes continuing in time within the unity that define the unity and are beyond our ability to distinguish.