I had the privilege of attending several extended workshops with Humberto Maturana in the early 1990’s. Humberto was leading the charge to provide a biological (aka scientifically credible for those committed to materialist presuppositions) account of language and human relations – including such unscientific notions as “love”. I did and do differ with his premises, but as a scientist I loved his effort, and as a person committed to the primacy of language as a defining feature of our humanness, I was and am profoundly grateful for the ways he broke open new possibilities for talk about talk.
In order to pioneer his path, Maturana had to do quite a bit of naming and renaming – of appropriating some language and making it his own in order to then set us on a new knowledge pathway. Some of them remain memorable and quirky, such as speaking of language as the “the coordination of coordinations” – which makes perfect sense if you’ve heard it enough times – and especially if parts of your education include attempts to use second order cybernetics as a theory of learning..
Years ago I spent some time many collecting up some of Maturana’s renaming’s, as recorded by me in my notes from those workshops, because they form a great case study in attempting to reposition the way scholars framed an entire area of human experience. The interesting thing about these (re-)namings is that they may seem very strange when you encounter them in a list, but as a set they created a whole new “world” for one to stand in and look at language. Here they are.
Maturana’s Re-namings (DAJ notes Day-Page)
That which you live and distinguish in your living (1-16)
The coordination of the coordination of behaviour. (2-21)
A commentary – a manner of describing the appearance of the system. (2-12
Entities arise when the relations that constitute the entity (the distinctions you make in languaging) are realised. (1-35) Objects are brought forth in the distinctions of language. (1-19)
The criteria for the validation of scientific explanations are the same as for everyday life. What distinguishes the scientist is
a) the passion (the desire to be always in this manner of living)
b) the carefulness (1-10)
Science is not extraordinary. It is ordinary. What is peculiar about science is the scientist – the commitment to ask questions. (1-17)
Emotioning defines the action.
An action is play, if in the presence of doing it you are not doing it for the consequences, even if you know what the consequences will be and you want them. (3-38)
A generative mechanism is not physical. It makes reference to the coherences of the system within the framework of which the system works. (1-10)
Competence in consensuality – in the coherences of the relations that arise through living together (3-11) Our primary differences as humans are not in our intelligence, but in our passions. (1-25)
Domain of those behaviours through which the (an) other arises as a legitimate other in coexistence with oneself. (3-7)
Implication by an observer of the domain of behaviours which will take place in bodyhood (3-6) An assessment of the circumstances and possible behaviours, not the particular doing.(3-5)