Dear Terry and colleagues,

In the Biology of Language and Knowledge, Maturana (1978, pp. 56 ff.) considered the biologist using biological discourse a super-observer, analytically to be distinguished from the languaging animals under study. He formulated as follows:

Human beings can talk about things because they generate the things they talk about by talking about them. That is, human beings can talk about things because they generate them by making distinctions that specify them in a consensual domain, and because, operationally, talking takes place in the same phenomenic domain in which things are defined as relations of relative neuronal activities in a closed neuronal network.

From a biological perspective, not language itself, but “languaging”
behavior is considered the system of reference. Language, however, is generated and reproduced by languaging and therefore a second-order domain attributable not to individual agents, but to their interactions—that is, their languaging as a first-order domain. Different from languaging, language is no longer biological. Cultural phenomena emerge on top of the biological ones and then take over control. Construction is bottom-up, but once constructed control can be expected to operate top-down.



Loet Leydesdorff

Professor emeritus, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) <>; Associate Faculty, SPRU, <>University of Sussex;

Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ. <>, Hangzhou; Visiting Professor, ISTIC, <>Beijing;

Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck <>, University of London;

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