This paper is a contribution to developing the theories of hierarchically complex living systems and the natures of knowledge in such systems. Problem: Dissonance between the literatures of knowledge management and organization theory and my observations of the living organization led to consideration of foundation questions: What does it mean to be alive? What is knowledge? How are life and knowledge related? Method: The approach is synthetic and multidisciplinary. The concept of autopoiesis (as defined by Maturana) as a definition for life, and knowledge as a product of autopoiesis are developed from first principles regarding the behavior of dynamical systems in time. Results: Autopoiesis and the construction of knowledge are inseparable aspects of physical phenomena scalable to many levels of organization (e.g., cells, multicellular organisms, organizations, social systems, etc.). The result unifies theories of epistemology, physical dynamics, life, biological evolution, knowledge and social systems.
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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