Practopoiesis is an overarching biological theory from
Danko Nikolic. The
term reflects the fundamental presumption on what the common
property is, that can be found across all the different levels of
organization of biological systems: to Act.
For example: Gene expression mechanisms act; bacteria act; organs
act; organisms as a whole act.
Due to this focus on biological action, practopoiesis has a
strong cybernetic flavour as it has to deal with the need of
acting systems to close feedback loops.
Thus, the theory of practopoiesis builds on the concepts of
cybernetics. Cybernetic laws assumes monitor-and-act
machinery (either physical or biological):
input → processing → output → feedback (as new
practopoiesis, input is needed to trigger actions and to
determine whether more actions are needed. For that reason, the
theory is founded in the basic theorems of cybernetics, namely
that of Requisite Variety and of Good Regulator
The key novelty of practopoiesis is that it introduces the
mechanisms explaining how different levels of organization
mutually interact. These mechanisms help explain how genes create
anatomy of the nervous system, or how anatomy creates
Practopoiesis is a theory on how life organizes into a mind. It
proposes the principles by which adaptive systems organize. It is
a general theory of what it takes to be biologically intelligent.
Being general, the theory is applicable to the brain as much as
it is applicable to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
What makes the theory so general is that it is grounded in the
principles of cybernetics (e.g. feedback loops),
rather than describing the physiological implementations of those
mechanisms (e.g. inhibition/excitation, plasticity, etc.).
In practopoiesis there is no longer a cycle: action
→ representation → action … . Instead, practopoietic
theory works with actions only, which interact and form a
hierarchy: One action is in a service of another action. This
hierarchy starts with actions of gene expression mechanisms and
ends with our overt behavior. Perception and cognition are then
understood as emergent properties of those cybernetics-like
The practopoietic theory of Prof. Dr. Danko Nikolic consists of
The first part is the foundation. This is where the basic
principles of adaptive systems are formulated. These principles
can be applied to various biological processes, not only to the
brain. Also, the first part can be applied to non-biological
systems, such as AI.
The second part applies those principles to human mind and to
the mind/body problem. The second part explains the ways in
which the mind is special and different from any other adaptive
The term Practopoiesis is derived from Ancient Greek
words praxis (πρᾶξις)) meaning "deed", "act" or
"action" + poiesis (ποίησις, ποιέω) which
means "to make". Practopoiesis means: creation of actions.