For more than 40 years the work and ideas of Humberto Maturana has permeated the academic world and applied disciplines. What began as an answer to the question “What is life?” has become an encompassing explanatory network that includes living, cognition, languaging, and emotioning. In October 2010 we decided to collect contributions to find indications of the fruitfulness of Maturana’s work across disciplines. In our call for papers, we were looking for articles dealing with these questions:
- What are the applications of Maturana’s work in various domains of inquiry and action, including both the humanities and the natural sciences?
- What are the potential extensions and expansions of the notions and concepts implicit in Maturana’s work?
- What can be said about Maturana’s work in historical and cultural perspectives, i.e., how does his epistemology fit into a historic view, or fit with current cultural and ethical views?
- The result of our endeavor is a collection of papers that confirms our expectations. Many scholars have been and still are influenced by and concerned with Maturana’s insights.
However, before we present a summary of these contributions, we would like to attend to the question of why Maturana’s insights are difficult to understand.