The primordial forms of autopoiesis: It is self-assemblage all the way down

Vincent Colapietro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Short of the universe in its entirety, there is not any whole that is not also a part, frequently in a dynamic, integral sense. Arthur Koestler coined the word holon to designate any part-whole. Even those parts that are seemingly mere constituents of some whole are themselves wholes to some extent. They have an integrity and identity of their own, even if their existence is apparently reducible to that of a constituent of a whole. If we take the multicellular organism as a paradigm of a dynamic holon, it seems obvious and undeniable that it is a whole as well as a part of any number of more encompassing wholes. But what is equally evident is that such a holon is self-assembling. Moreover, the processes of self-assemblage by which cells, organisms, entire populations, and countless other "beings" secure their existence are ones in which a logic of immanent dynamism and a logic of "external" support are both responsible for what is actually taking place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-206
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Speculative Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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