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biological–epistemological biology of cognition


The Biological Foundations of

Virtual Realities and Their Implications
for Human Existence
Humberto Maturana Romesín A Instituto de Formación Matríztica <>

R Purpose – Purpose: To consider the implications of the operation of the nervous sys- changing relations of activity between its neu-
tem – and of the constitution of cultures as closed networks of languaging and emotioning ronal components, it does not have input or
– for how we understand and generate so-called “virtual realities.” R Findings – The output relations with the medium in its oper-
nervous system operates as a detector of configurations of relations of activities within ation.
itself and thus cannot represent anything external to it. The distinction between virtual
and non-virtual realities does not apply to the operation of the nervous system; rather it Neuronal dynamics
pertains to the operation of the observer as a languaging being. Our human existence has The structure of the nervous system is not
changed as virtual realities have become non-virtual through their systemic cultural inclu- fixed. It varies continuously in a network of
sion in the realization of our biological human manner of living. R Implications – Virtual intercrossing cyclic changes that take place in
realities are never trivial, because we always become transformed as we live them accord- the structural dynamics of its components
ing to the emotioning of the psychic space that they bring about in our living, and this is so through many different cyclic processes with
regardless of whether we like it or not. R Key words – Behavior, dreaming, evolution, different time constants that result in differ-
neural network, robots, self, reality, virtual reality, conversation, culture. ent kinds of changes: changes in the regula-
tion of the dendritic and axonal branching of
Sensors and effectors the neuronal elements, in the metabolic
Introduction dynamics, in the ionic channels, in the density
The nervous system is, both anatomically and of receptors – which in turn result in changes
One of the central features of our operation as physiologically, a closed network of interact- in the effectiveness of the synaptic relations –
living systems is that we cannot distinguish in ing neuronal elements. As such, the nervous as well as many other changes of a cyclic
our experience between what we call, in daily system operates as a closed network of chang- nature. As a result of these structural changes,
life, “perception” and “illusion.” This is so ing relations of activities between the neu- the operation of the nervous system as a
because we, as living systems, are structure- ronal elements that compose it, in the sense closed network of changing relations of activ-
determined systems, and all that happens in that any change of relations of activity in it ities between its neuronal components is also
us or with us is determined in our structure leads to further changes in relations of activity in continuous cyclic change of long (some-
and in our structural dynamics. Indeed, it is in it. Sensors and effectors have a dual charac- times permanent) and short time constants.
precisely because of this that virtual realities ter since they operate as neuronal elements In these circumstances, the course followed
are possible. In the first part, I discuss the bio- and participate in the composition of the ner- by the flow of changing relations of activities
logical aspects of virtual realities; in the sec- vous system through their structural intersec- in the operation of the nervous system as a
ond, I discuss the implications for human tion with some nerve cells. As sensors and closed network arises moment by moment,
existence. effectors they are part of the organism and determined by its structure at each moment
constitute the surface of encounter between in the flow of its continuous change.
the organism and the medium. So, the organ- The course followed by the structural
Part I:Virtual realities ism interacts with the medium through its changes of the neuronal elements that com-
sensors and effectors, not through the ner- pose the nervous system is modulated in sev-
and the nervous system vous system. What happens is that in their eral ways:
Here I wish to discuss what the experiential structural intersection with neuronal ele- 1. through their own internal structural
indistinguishability between what, in daily ments, sensors and effectors operate as com- dynamics;
life, we call “perception” and “illusion” entails ponents of the nervous system and participate 2. through structural changes triggered in
in relation to the nervous system, in relation as such in its closed dynamics of changing them as a result of their interactions with
to our existence as languaging beings, and in relations of activities. The nervous system, other neuronal elements;
relation to virtual realities. This I shall do in a therefore, does not encounter the medium, 3. through structural changes that arise in
series of self-contained statements. and as it operates as a closed network of them as a result of their structural intersec-

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tion with other cells such as the internal vous system exists in its operation in its closed not intersect, and remain independent as
and external sensory elements of the dynamics without any reference to what an such, each modulates what happens in the
organism; and observer may see as external to it. other through the structural changes to which
4. through structural changes triggered in it gives rise. Finally, this occurs under circum-
them by substances secreted by other cells Structural interaction stances in which the sensory and effector sur-
of the same nervous system, cells of the rest Due to the structural intersection of the neu- faces of the organism are operational and not
of the organism, or substances that come ronal elements of the nervous system with the necessarily anatomical in the classic sense.
from the medium in which the organism sensory and effector elements of the organ- While the nervous system operates in a
exists as it operates as a totality. isms, the sensors and effectors participate in flow of structural changes in its dynamic
A basic consequence of this structural the structural dynamics of both the organism architecture, sensory and effector surfaces are
dynamics is that the and the nervous system notions that the observer introduces in order
structure of the nervous while the nervous sys- to refer to aspects of a systemic operation as
system as a closed net-
It is the observer who sees the tem and the organism components of a larger dynamic architecture.
work of interacting neu- inside and the outside of the stay operationally inde- Thus, for example, in a pressure cooker, the
ronal elements changes organism and who makes the pendent. As a result, two cap that regulates the exit of water vapor can
continuously through distinction “dreaming”, not things happen. One is be said to operate both as a sensor and as an
structural changes that that the structural effector for the regulation of the temperature
arise in its components the operation of the nervous changes that the sensors of the water in the pot, even though it is only
as a result: (1) of their system and effectors of the an element of the dynamic architecture of the
own operation; (2) of the organism undergo in pot. Sensors and effectors are descriptive arti-
operation of the physiological dynamics of their encounters with the medium result in fices to facilitate description and understand-
the organism; and (3) of the interactions of structural changes in the neuronal elements ing of the dynamic architecture. While these
the organism in its domain of existence. with which they intersect. The other is that artifices facilitate understanding, they also
the structurally changed neuronal elements obscure the systemic operation of the archi-
Not dreaming that intersect with the sensory and effector tecture.
The nervous system intersects structurally elements of the organism change their man-
with the organism at different locations that ner of participation in the changing relations Behavior
are its internal and external sensory and effec- of activities of the neuronal network that they In the structural intersection of the nervous
tor surfaces, and does so through some neu- integrate. This is valid both for the external system with the internal and external sensory
ronal elements that are components of both and the internal sensory and effector surfaces and effector surfaces of the organism, the
the nervous system and the organism. The of the organism. changes of activity in the neuronal elements
cellular elements that in this intersection The general results are also twofold. trigger structural changes in the effector and
operate as sensors and effectors as compo- (1) The structure of the nervous system sensory elements of the organism. As a result,
nents of the sensory and effector surfaces of changes in a manner contingent to the struc- the manner of incidence of the organism in its
the organism are elements of interactions of tural changes triggered in the sensory surfaces internal and external medium changes too.
the organism, not of the nervous system. At of the organism during the flow of its interac- Nevertheless, the nervous system does not
the same time, those same elements, as they tion in the medium. The basic result of this is make the organism act on the medium; its
operate as neuronal elements, are compo- that the dynamics of the activity only triggers
nents of the nervous system and not of the nervous system as a The nervous system does not structural changes in the
sensory and effector surfaces of the organism. closed neuronal net- sensory and effector sur-
As a closed neuronal network, the nervous work, and the sensory make the organism act on faces of the organism,
system only operates by generating internal effector correlations that the medium giving rise to the sensory
changing relations of activities between its it generates through its effector correlations
components and does not interact with the intersection with the sensory and effector sur- through the encounters of the latter with the
medium. As such the nervous system does not faces of the organism, change in a manner medium. Those structural changes bring
operate with representations of the medium contingent to the flow of the interactions of about change in the manner of incidence of
or of what happens to the organism in its the organism. the organism on the medium (internal and
interactions in the medium. One cannot even (2) The nervous system as a closed neu- external) in a manner determined by the
say that the closed operation of the nervous ronal network continues generating an inter- structure of the nervous system at every
system is like dreaming, because dreaming nal dynamics that gives origin to internal and moment. However, as a result of such change,
pertains to the manner of being of the organ- external sensory and effector correlations in the manner of encountering the medium of
ism as a totality. It is the observer who sees the the organism that are proper to its manner of the organism changes according to the struc-
inside and the outside of the organism and living its life, or the organism dies. So, tural changes that its nervous system under-
who makes the distinction “dreaming,” not although the operational domains in which goes along its internal and external relational
the operation of the nervous system. The ner- the organism and the nervous system exist do living.

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The nervous system does not operate with The evolution of the nervous system The nervous system operates as a closed
representations of the medium, nor does it The structure of the nervous system changes, network of changing relations of activities in
operate with symbols of the features of the through the various processes indicated intersection with the sensory and effector
medium, and it does not use in its operation above, following a course contingent to the surfaces of an organism. Therefore, all that
dimensions proper to the description of the course of the internal and external interac- the nervous system does in relation to the
medium by the observer. The nervous system tions of the organism that it integrates. organism as this operates as a totality in the
operates only as a closed network of changing Moreover, the structure with which any medium, is to give rise to sensory effector
relations of activities between its component organism begins its individual life history is correlations in the organism. These correla-
neuronal elements in a continuous flow of one that has been established along an evo- tions constitute its behavior as the organism
changing relations of activity between them. lutionary history in which the organisms of operates as a totality in dynamic structural
It follows from all this that when the observer any given lineage and the medium in which coherences with the medium in which it
sees an organism performing a particular they are realized have changed together con- exists in recursive interactions. Therefore, it
behavior as a dynamic interaction with the gruently. As a result of this evolutionary his- is because of its manner of operation as a
medium, the nervous system is only perform- tory, the initial closed network of changing
ing a dynamic correlation between the sen- structure of the relations of activities in
sory and the effector surfaces of the organism nervous system at Behavior is not something intersection with the
according to its structure at that moment and the beginning of that the organism does, but organism, and because of
is not generating any behavior. The behavior life of any organ- something that arises in the its condition of being a
that the observer sees as he or she beholds the ism with a nervous structure-determined sys-
organism as a totality in a medium arises in system, is one that
organism/medium encounter tem, that the nervous sys-
the encounter of the organism with the gives rise in the tem does not and cannot
medium in a manner in which both the organism to the external and internal sen- operate in a way that distinguishes the fea-
organism and the medium participate. So sory effector correlations adequate for the tures of the medium as if these were inde-
behavior is not something that the organism realization of the manner of living that pendent entities. No doubt it appears to do
does, but something that arises in the organ- defines the lineage. so to an observer who sees it generating ade-
ism/medium encounter. This is why I said What makes a nervous system a nervous quate behavior in its domain of existence.
above that one cannot even say that the closed system is not the kind of elements that com- But organisms operate in a way that gener-
operation of the nervous system is like dream- pose it, but rather – both in its manner of ates adequate behavior in their domain of
ing, since the notion of dreaming requires the operation as a closed network of changing living as they are alive as the result of the evo-
distinction of inside and outside. relations of activity between interacting lutionary and ontogenic history of struc-
plastic elements, and in its existence as a sys- tural coupling in the medium to which they
The working of neurons tem in structural intersection with the sen- belong.
Neurons operate as detectors of configurations sory and effector surfaces of a larger system
of activities on their afferent surfaces. This is so that operates as a totality in a relational space Robots
because the nerve impulse begins at the origin – that those very same sensory and effector In these circumstances, the difference
of the axon (axon hillock) of any neuronal ele- surfaces contribute to define it. Thus, a pro- between a robot and a living system resides in
ment as a result of a local composition of all the tozoan such as a paramecium, for example, the different manner of origin of their opera-
afferent activity from other neuronal elements has a molecular nervous system in the form tional and structural congruence with the
impinging upon the collector surface of the of a closed network of changing molecular medium in which they exist. Thus, the opera-
neuronal element. As a result, not only single relations in operational intersection with the tional and structural congruence between a
neuronal elements, but groups of neuronal ele- closed autopoietic molecular system that the robot and the medium in which it exists is the
ments and groups of groups of neuronal ele- paramecium is as a living system, The oper- result of an operation of design in which both
ments also operate as detectors of configura- ational intersection occurs at the sensory the robot and the medium in which it oper-
tions of activity in the afferent activity and effector surfaces that arise in the organ- ates have been made to fit dynamically with
impinging upon them. Indeed, the nervous ism as it operates as a totality. Similarly, a each other. So a robot and the medium in
system as a closed network of changing rela- mouse has a nervous system composed as a which it will operate arise as congruent
tions of activities between its component neu- closed network of changing relations of cel- through a human act of design. Contrary to
ronal elements only operates as a detector of lular activities in operational intersection at this, the operational and structural congru-
changing relations of activities in itself. As a the sensory and effector surfaces that the ence between a living system and the medium
consequence, as the activity of the nervous sys- mouse has in the domain in which it operates in which it operates, as I have already men-
tem gives rise to internal and external sensory as an organism. Indeed, it is because of the tioned on several occasions, is the result of an
effector correlations in the organism, it does so manner of the operational constitution of a evolutionary and an ontogenic history in
according to a closed internal dynamics of nervous system that it is possible to design an which both the living systems and the
operational distinctions of recursive changing artificial system that will, indeed, operate as medium have changed together congruently
configurations of relations of activities in itself. a robot with a nervous system. in structural coupling.

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Implications for the distinction of (dance) together in a flow of recursive coordi- At the same time, once we distinguish our-
virtual/non virtual nations of languaging and emotioning. Lan- selves in languaging, we appear as languaging
The main consequence of the manner of guaging is not a domain of abstractions or entities in the domain of distinctions in which
operation of the nervous system, according to symbolizations, rather languaging occurs as a we arise as selves. Henceforth we can speak as
what I have said, is that as it does not operate domain of concrete doings, whether these are if we had an existence independent from the
with representations of entities that would things we do with our hands, or things we do operation of distinction that brought us
exist as an external reality. As it operates as a in our thinking. Languaging takes place in the forth, and as if we could use language as an
closed network of changing relations of activ- various domains of our doings in the contin- external instrument that is independent of
ities, it only generates sensory effector corre- uous realization of all our doings. So, we our doings. So we find ourselves operating in
lations in the organism that it integrates with- human beings exist in the flow of our living in unaware self-processes when we ask about
out acting by itself on an external world. It conversations, that is, in a flow of languaging ourselves, arise into “thingness” and become
follows from this that the distinctions and emotioning. Whatever we say happens to selves as discrete entities that obscure our
between inside and us that does not appear being processes. This account, of course, does
outside and between It is possible to design an in the flow of our lan- not replace the experience of self, nor does it
virtual and non-virtual artificial system that will, guaging or our conver- intend to do so; it only describes what hap-
realities that an sations, does not hap- pens so that we have the experience we talk
observer may make do indeed. operate as a robot with pen to us as human about as we talk of the self.
not apply to the opera- a nervous system beings. When one says, All that we do as human beings is possible
tion of the nervous sys- “I do not have words for precisely because the nervous system operates
tem. The distinctions between perception and what I see or feel,” one is saying “I am living as a closed network of changing relations of
illusion, or between virtual and non-virtual something that does not yet pertain to the activities between the elements that compose
realities, pertain to the operation of the recursive domain of coordinations of doings it, and because the elements that compose it
observer as a languaging being capable of and emotionings in which I exist as a human have plastic structures. What happens is that
operating in the distinction of the inside and being. I cannot say that what I feel is some- the different circumstances of interactions of
outside of an organism as he or she beholds it thing that is some thing.” We do not use lan- the organism in the medium give rise in its
as a totality in interactions in a medium. guage and conversations; rather, anything we nervous system to two different kinds of
distinguish, including ourselves (as when we interrelated processes, namely:
say “we”), occurs as a flow of conversations in 1. Different changes of relations of activity
Part II:Virtual realities a relational domain with others like ourselves. between the neuronal elements that compose
It is not that language is the home of the it, and through the internal changes of config-
and human existence Dasein, as Heidegger says: our being as urations of relations of activity thus generated
human beings occurs in languaging in the to different flows of sensory effector correla-
The main difficulty that arises for us as flow of our being in conversations. A human tions in the organism; and
observers with the aim of understanding the being is a dynamic manner of being in lan- 2. Structural changes in the neuronal com-
operation of the nervous system as a closed guage, not a body, not an entity that has an ponents triggered through the changes of
network of changing relations of activities existence that can be imagined independent activity of the neuronal network in the con-
between its component neuronal elements, of language and that tingencies of the inter-
has to do with understanding three experien- can then use language The distinctions between actions of the organ-
tial features of our humanness, namely: as an instrument for perception and illusion, or ism.
1. the experience of the self; communication. As a result of these
2. the experience of the other as an indepen- The self is a manner between virtual and non-virtual two processes, the
dent being; and of explaining the expe- realities, pertain to the structure of the ner-
3. the experience and understanding of what rience of operating as a operation of the observer vous system changes in
psychologists and philosophers call inter- local relational identity a manner that contin-
subjectivity. as a human being that ues to generate sensory
distinguishes (touches, senses) his or her effector correlations in the organism that are
Being in language operation as a body. Existence in language is coherent with its manner of interacting in the
If we attend to what we do, and to what hap- required for the experience of the self to hap- medium in which it exists. In the case of
pens with us, when we engage in languaging, pen. Similarly, subjectivity is not an interior organisms such as human beings who live in
we see that we live together in a flow of coor- living, it is a manner of connoting how we are language, the main consequence is that the
dinations of coordinations of doings or or feel in the distinction of the distinction of structural changes of the nervous system are
behaviors. Further, if we attend to what we do self as if this were an entity. Thus, subjectivity such that they continue to give rise to sensory
and to what happens with us when we partic- exists as a manner of living in the conversa- effector correlations proper to the operation
ipate in a conversation, we see that we live tion that distinguishes the self. of an organism that exists in language.

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Experience of the other (c) we explain experience rather than an

We human beings live the experience of dis- objective independent reality by using the ABOUT THE AUTHOR
tinguishing other human beings. As we coherences of our experiences to explain our
attempt to explain such experience, we experiences, the other arises as an experience
ascribe a self to each of them in the same terms to be explained in terms of the conditions that
that we claim for ourselves – that is, as an give rise to him or her in the distinction of an
entity. As we do this, subjectivity arises as the observer. Accordingly, the other is to be
experience in which we distinguish the differ- explained as an experience of the observer,
ence between distinguishing oneself and dis- and not as if the other existed independently
tinguishing an other self. of being distinguished by the observer. In
In order to account for the harmonization these circumstances, the notions of inter-sub-
of the coexistence of two or more individual jectivity and self become explanatory notions
selves, the notion of inter-subjectivity is pro- for manners of living that arise as we live the
posed in psychological and philosophical experience of interacting with other human
reflections as an explanatory notion that sug- beings in conversations that deal with the ease
gests the possibility that otherwise indepen- or difficulty with which we coordinate our
dent selves may be able to interconnect in behaviors with each other. Difficulties arise,
ways that transcend their boundaries. In our though, when we do not fully see that the
culture we describe the experience of har- effectiveness of our coordinations of behavior
mony with others as an expression of some is the simple result of our operation in recip- Humberto Maturana was born in Santiago
sort of interconnectedness, and we live it as rocal structural coupling, and we insist on Chile in 1928. Starting with biological
such. However, as we are structure-deter- accepting the presence of the other as an inde- research on perception, he has developed
mined systems, this cannot occur. What hap- pendent entity as a primary condition – this is the Biology of Cognition and the Biology of
pens is that all experiences have the character what we cannot do, due to our condition as Love. Several threads are intertwined
of something lived that we can talk about only structure-determined systems. through the development of his body of
as they arise as distinctions in a conversation, work. For one, he notes that in any relation
either with oneself or with another. That is, an Virtual realities as where something, including an explanation,
experience appears in our living only as we domains of coexistence is offered it is the person who accepts who
distinguish what happens to us or in us, and From all that I have said above, it is apparent determines the truth, value, or adequacy of
the experience appears to us with an evoca- that for the operation of the nervous system as the offering. Maturana retains an awareness
tion of what we distinguish in the culture to a closed neuronal network, all that happens in throughout his work that it is the observer
which we belong. or with it are phenomena (processes) of the who determines the validity of what he or
Since experiences are distinctions that we same kind – namely, changes of relations of she accepts as valid. In his works he shows
make of what happens in us or to us as lan- activities in its neuronal components. And that we do not know, and constitutively can-
guaging beings, and since all that we live has this is so for all cases, even when, to the not ever know, if what we live as valid at any
recursive consequences in our living, nothing observer, the organism appears to be realizing instant is something that we shall later treat
that we distinguish as happening to us, be this different behaviors. This means that waking, as a mistake, as an illusion or as a perception.
the experience of self or the experience of mating, eating, breathing, emotioning, In noting that we live our lives trusting the
inter-subjectivity, is trivial for our living as reflecting, thinking, or talking are different repetitiveness of the manner in which things
languaging beings. Furthermore, and since a phenomena only in the relational domain in appear to operate, he developed the
culture is a closed network of conversations, which the organism operates as a historical notion of structural determinism.As we too
we necessarily live the consequences of these whole, and not in the operation of the actual are structure determined systems so that
experiences in our living according to the cul- nervous system as a closed neuronal network. external agents do not specify what hap-
ture in which we live them, which is where No doubt the different relational circum- pens in us, then nothing external can tell us
they are features of the world that we live. stances that an animal lives involve different anything about itself. Thus instead of asking
Thus, for example, sorcery is effective in a cul- neuronal dynamics in the operation of its ner- how things are, he began following a path of
ture that accepts sorcery as a feature of its liv- vous system. However, what gives them their asking for the processes that gave rise to
ing, and it is lived in the form proper to that different characters is what happens in the them, and for the criteria used to accept the
culture. relation between the organism and the answers he considered valid. Thus in all his
medium, and not what happens in the ner- writings one may find the proposition of
Intersubjectivity vous system itself. The normal manner of generative mechanism that give rise to the
In these circumstances, since (a) the notion of operating of living systems as systems that do phenomena he explains, along with the cri-
reality is an explanatory notion (b) the notion not distinguish in the experience between teria he uses to claim that something is as
of structural determinism is an abstraction perception and illusion is what makes possi- he says it is. (Photo: Pille Punnell)
from the coherences of our experience, and ble what are now called “virtual realities.”

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Virtual realities are illusions – that is, expe- have ethical concerns, is what happens to our stop being virtual. As features of our culture,
riences that we call “virtual” in relation to psychic existence as we manipulate the they become part of our biological manner of
some other experiences that we call “real.” domains of virtual realities to which we living and, hence, of the non-virtual reality
According to all that I have said about scien- expose one another. No matter whether we that we live.
tific explanations, the nervous system, and are aware or not of what kind of reality we live The problem with virtual realities, then, if
structural determinism, the only experiences at any instant, all the realities that we live there is any, is not how they occur, or if they
that can possibly be called real as a reference affect us in the same way in the emotional occur at all, but whether we do or do not like
that permits us to call all others virtual, are dimensions of our psychic existence, because the psychic manners of existence and the cul-
those that we live in the realization of our bio- there is no virtual emotional life. Indeed, it is tural transformations that we generate
logical living in structural coupling with the precisely because of this that all that we live in through them. Virtual realities are never triv-
medium in which we exist. our psychic existence is non-virtual. Indeed, ial, because we always become transformed as
As humanness arose with language, it is the absence of any “virtual” psychic exist- we live them according to the emotioning of
humanness arose in a historical path open to ence that allows virtual realities to become, the psychic space that they bring about in our
the possibility of endless generation of virtual first, cultural manners of being and, eventu- living, and this is so regardless of whether we
realities through the open-ended possibility ally, features of our non-virtual living in the like it or not. If we care about what happens to
of recursion in the consensual coordinations realization of our biological living. us and to other human beings through what
of consensual coordinations of behavior of Let me expand on this idea. Our nervous we do through virtual realities, then it is our
languaging. Moreover, as actual living in lan- system is continuously changing along the responsibility to act accordingly.
guage expanded, the possibility of recursions flow of our living, and it does so in a manner
in the inner dynamics of the nervous system that is moment by moment contingent on the
expanded too, and with that came the possi- course of our living, both in our conscious Note
bility for the recursive generation of more and unconscious, external and internal, rela-
domains of virtual realities. Indeed, virtual tional psychic space. As a result, all that we This paper is comprises two appendices from
realities in the domain of conversations have live, regardless of what kind of living we live, the book “The Origin of Humanness in the
been with us from the very beginning of our arises in us modulated by the history of our Biology of Love” written in 1994 by Hum-
human existence. Our human existence has psychic existence regardless of whether this berto Maturana Romesín and Gerda Verden
changed as virtual realities have become non- takes place through our living in what an Zöller (edited by Pille Bunnell). The appendi-
virtual through their systemic cultural inclu- observer might call a virtual or a non-virtual ces were written by Hunberto Maturana
sion in the realization of our biological reality. In these circumstances, and since our Romesin in the years 1996–1997. The book is
human manner of living. structure and the structure of the medium in press with Imprint Academic, to be pub-
that we bring about systemically in our living lished in the summer of 2008. This excerpt
Conclusion: change together congruently as we live, our from the forthcoming book is published with
Virtual realities are never trivial living becomes dependent on the virtual real- permission of the surviving author and the
Yet virtual realities, as we have distinguished ities that we live as they become systemic fac- publisher.
them in our technological culture, should not tors in the cultural realization of our living. In
by themselves be a source of serious concern. other words, as we live them repeatedly, reali- Received: 18 November 2006
What should call us to reflect, though, if we do ties that were initially virtual progressively Accepted: 8 March 2008

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