Self-reproduction [UTI]

Incorporated contributions
Díaz & Hofkirchner (8/11/09)
Usage domain
German Selbstreproduktion
(Used in the →Unified Theory of Information (UTI) as an intermediate process -in evolutionary sense- of information systems) Self-reproduction is a more elaborated type of self-restructuring processes and refers to the capacity of self-organising systems, which do not only change their structure into another one more or less chosen by themselves, but they also insert these modified structures into a wider context: that of helping them to keep their own existence. Here, a functional structure is not a simple pattern any more, but a ‘thing’ that has meaning, and this ‘thing’ will be called here a symbol, so that the production of signs in this evolutionary stage of living systems changes from creating patterns to creating symbols.

The self-reproducing systems are considered an evolutionary stage (called biotic or living) among the →self-restructuring and the →self-recreating ones, so that they involve a special case of self-restructuring systems, as well as a more general case than the self-recreating ones.

As far as the evolution of the semiotic relation is concerned, one can observe here a ramification in which the syntactic level is separated from the semantic-pragmatic one, regarding the former just to the sensations of the living systems. These sensations -on the syntactic level- consist of self-organised restructurings evoked by the environmental disruptions and limited by the “offer of sensitive mechanisms” in a recursive process of symbolic production. However, on the semantic-pragmatic level, actions are developed according to sensations. Since living systems act according to what such sensations mean in terms of relevance for survival, we could talk about both meaning and action, although in an indissoluble manner. The syntactic difference means -in practice- a difference with regard to the objective of the survival, so that the signs now represent the aptitude of the system towards the environmental conditions (whereas in the self-restructuring systems one talks about reflection, one could talk here about representation).

Self-organising systems on the biotic level are capable of reproducing themselves. Notice that "reproduction" in that context is not the same as to what biologists are used to referring. The notion here includes the narrow biological meaning of reproduction but goes beyond that. It refers to the capability of the system to maintain itself – a meaning that usually comes with the notion in sociological context only. This kind of reproduction can be called after Maturana and Varela "→autopoiesis". Therefore living systems can be called "autopoeitic systems". Autopoiesis is a refinement of, and further development in, dissipative self-organisation (self-restructuring).
  • FENZL, N., HOFKIRCHNER, W. (1997). "Information Processing in Evolutionary Systems. An Outline Conceptual Framework for a Unified Information Theory".  Schweitzer, F. (ed.), Self-Organization of Complex  Structures: From Individual to Collective Dynamics, Foreword by Hermann Haken. London: Gordon and Breach, pp. 59-70.
  • FLEISSNER, P., HOFKIRCHNER, W. (1996). "Emergent Information. Towards a unified information theory".BioSystems, 2-3 (38), pp. 243-248.
  • HOFKIRCHNER, W. (1998). "Information und Selbstorganisation – Zwei Seiten einer Medaille". Fenzl, N., Hofkirchner, W., Stockinger, G. (eds.): Information und Selbstorganisation. Annäherungen an eine vereinheitlichte Theorie der Information. Innsbruck: Studienverlag, pp. 69-99.
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Incorporated entries
J.M. Díaz Nafría & W. Hofkirchner (08/11/2009)
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