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Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

Devouring One’s Own Tail

Autopoiesis in Perspective

Drawing on continental philosophy, Devouring One’s Own Tail examines culture and society as a type of ouroboros.
Inspired by Niklas Luhmann’s theories on social systems, this book examines the concept of autopoiesis, or self-creation, as it relates to society and culture. Approaching the concept from a variety of fields—philosophy, philology, aesthetics, linguistics, archaeology, and religious and media studies—the contributors present the products of humanity as self-referential, self-sustaining, and self-creating systems. Through four sections, the book addresses the philosophical concept of autopoiesis and its relations to creativity, destruction, and self-organization; autopoiesis in literature and art history;  autopoiesis in religion; and autopoiesis in historiography, cognitive linguistics, and social media. Whether exploring Hegel’s theory of knowledge or the viral spread of conspiracy theories on the internet, the authors concentrate on the ouroboros-like nature of their subjects in the ways they feed off of themselves.

324 pages | 5 3/4 x 8

Philosophy: General Philosophy, Philosophy of Society

Table of Contents

Introduction: “All That Is Straight Lies” (Vojtech Kolman)

Part I: Methods of Self-Creation
The Method Is Justified by Its Outcome (Miroslav Petrícek)
From Boundaries to Interfaces: Autopoietic Systems and the “Ontology of Motion” (Martin Procházka)
“I am the Combat”: Hegel’s Dramatic Theory of Knowledge (Vojtech Kolman)

Part 2: Narratives of Self-Creation and Self-Destruction
Autopoiesis and “Pure Culture of Death Instinct”: Creativity as a Suicidal Project (Josef Vojvodík)
The Dark Side of the End of Art (Tomáš Murár)
The Author in the Making: Ethos, Posture, and Self-Creation (Josef Šebek)
A Negative Autopoietic Principle in French Interpretations of Hegel – Breton, Sartre, Bataille (Eva Voldrichová-Beránková)

Part 3: Religion and Education as Autopoietic Projects
Luhmann’s Religious Carnival and the Limits of Communication (Tereza Matejcková)
Historical Transformations of Christianity and Luhmann’s Theory of Autopoietic Systems (Tomáš Halík)
On Universities and Contemporary Society: The Issue of Trust (Jakub Jirsa)

Part 4: Society in an Autopoietic Perspective
An Autopoieticist Vision of Society: Luhmann’s Social System Theory and the Understanding of Medieval Transformation (Tomáš Klír)
Participatory Sense-Making through Bodies: Self-Organizing Principles in the Continuity of Life and Mind (Eva Lehecková and Jakub Jehlicka)
Conspiracy Theories and Disinformation as Viruses in Social Media (Josef Šlerka)
Aspiring Autopoiesis and Its Troubles: What Else Is Produced When the Nation Is Reproduced (Ondrej Slacálek)

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