An outline of an autopoietic systems approach to emotion.
Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 12(4),
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This paper presents the outline of an autopoietic systems approach to emotion. Distinctions are drawn between organic, psychic and social system types on the basis of the work of Serres, Luhmann and Tomkins. Literature on emotion is reviewed and three forms of reductionism identiﬁed, each of which corresponds to one of these system types. A case is then made that emotions are in fact threshold phenomena at the interstices between these system types, and distinctions between affects, emotions and proto-communication are proposed accordingly. These constitute forms of structural coupling best grasped in terms of parasitism and paradox. Emotions, affects and proto-communication de-paradoxify the paradoxes that we must know what we cannot know and share what we cannot share.
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