Maturana and Varela introduced the idea of autopoiesis as a form of system organization where the system produces and replaces its own components in an on-going structural coupling with the surrounding environment. The autopoietic system is autocatalytic – it not only establishes but also maintains a unique boundary with the surrounding world – a boundary which simultaneously separates and connects the system.
Human beings are examples of autopoietic systems – they reproduce themselves in an on-going co-evolution with the environment: people respond (react, adapt) to the changes in their environment, and the environment responds (reacts, ‘adapts’) to human intervention.
Each individual has specific characteristics reflecting his/her unique inner structure. This structure is open for changes: we inevitably evolve in the course of our lives.
As people share with one another what they experience and what they know (or think that they know) about themselves and the environment, many common similarities arise in the ways they see, interpret and understand the life phenomena. And yet, each individual expresses the self as a unique personality – from childhood to old age. In every physical, emotional, mental or spiritual act, the self of each specific person reproduces itself, maintaining a unique boundary with the surrounding world, and ‘evolves’ in structural coupling with its environment.
The reproduction and evolution of the individual self in a vital coupling with its environment is what we call INTRAPERSONAL AUTOPOIESIS.
Intrapersonal Autopoiesis represents an application of the original concept of autopoiesis, introduced by Maturana and Varela in biology and by Luhmann in social systems, to the individual self, its realization and evolution.