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 input).
In 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 Theorem.

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 behaviour.


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 actions.


The practopoietic theory of Prof. Dr. Danko Nikolic consists of two parts:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 system.


Linguistic derivation

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.

External Sources


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