All quotes from Heinz von Förster’s

Seeing the ecology of the whole Earth—you see, the atmosphere, the animals, the plants, the whole ecosphere—as a living organism. And of course, if you do that, you have to somehow make a decision in saying: what do we mean? What is a living organism?

The usual notion of information is that on this sheet of paper you have information, yeah? And this, on my watch there, is information. You see, and you hinted—and I like that!—that that is no information. They are just hands on a clock, and they are black spots on a piece of paper. Only when you, Sherwin Gooch, are looking at the whole thing—you see, here it says, “What is cybernetics?” Suddenly, when you look at that sheet of paper, you generate the information by interacting with your own sensory experience. So information is generated in the one who looks at things.

If you have a system which consists of many components, and these components interact with each other in a productive way (producing some other components)—when the system is organized such that the production of these components are the very components that do this production, then you have an autopoietic system, and then you have a living organization.

These people who expand the notion of autopoiesis to a larger system than just you and me, they said Gaia is an autopoietic system. Because it fulfills all the conditions: it fulfills the condition that all the components of that Gaia system are productively interactive with each other—and what do they produce? The very components with which they start out. So Gaia is a perpetually reconstructing, regenerating system which maintains the system as it is at the moment; the Gaia system. How can it do that? Because the sun is pumping in enough energy that this circularity of the processes which maintain the living organization of Gaia is maintained. Otherwise, it collapses and the whole thing goes.