In this poster I want to emphasize the relationship between the theories of Sigmund Freud and Humberto Maturana in those aspects that discriminates human from not human, the formation of conscious mind. The so called “Santiago Theory” states that autopoiesis is the sole and unique form to discriminate living from not living beings [De Máquinas e Seres Vivos, 3ª ed., Artes Medicas, 1997 (1971)]
“The function makes the organ” is at its most when we talk about brain: in no other organ it was demonstrated with so much details how the use configure the anatomy of tissues. To be able to live in language determines the shape and evolution of the brain, without falling in the “kinetogenesis” of Lamarck.
Freud’s “the ego is first and foremost a bodily ego” [S.E., XIX, pg 26] has the most dramatic expression in the interface between body and “psyche,” represented by the brain, in a form deeply interweaved with culture. Anatomy is changing, evolution is changing?
Maturana’s “autopoiesis” is the key to understand this and other puzzling assertive of Sigmund Freud, really a genius living much before his time. For instance, when he declares “We see, then, that the differentiation of the super ego from the ego is no matter of chance (emphasis added); it represents the most important characteristics of the development both of the individual and to the species; indeed, by giving permanent expression to the influence of the parents it perpetuates the existence of the factors to which it owes its origins” (idem, pg. 35) he is anticipating Maturana by several decades. It is the merit of Maturana and Varela to bring attention to the fact that “Mendelian” is not the only form of heredity because there is another that they call “evolution by derivation.” This one is the reason for differentiation of primates that use language from the others that do not. In this sense, construction of knowledge is the same as construction of subject, which is the ultimate aim of Psycho-analysis.
If so, then may be Freud was not so aberrant when he stated the perpetuation of “acquired characteristics?” There are more than Lamarck and Darwin in this world?
Some technological achievements changes the way things are done. After Internet, Congresses like this one will be the locus where we will met people who we learnt to admire and recognize as scientific minds, through the discussions groups. As Negroponte said, “two weeks of group discussions in Internet seems to advance knowledge more than a year used to.”
P.S: Some places to go for more info about autopoiesis: