Ouroboros 2021: Life and Work of Francisco Varela

Current Stream:

The 1st season of Ouroboros, our annual reading and discussion seminar series, began in March 2021. It focues on the opus of Francisco J. Varela, one of the pioneers of enactivism. In a series of sessions spanning across the year, experts, former collaborators, and friends will introduce some of his key works, followed by discussion among participants and outside guests. Below you may find information on the format as well as a schedule with links to past streams and summaries of events.

Organised by: Sebastjan Vörös (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts), Metanoia, and Mind & Life Europe.


The sessions take place online on Zoom for presenters and invited guests. In addition, there is a public stream to the Mind and Life Europe Youtube channel (a link to it will always be provided on this page as well). Stream viewers may ask questions, and they will be forwarded to the moderator.

Contact: Any questions should be addressed to metanoia.ouroboros@gmail.com. Note however that invites to the Zoom portion of the event are closed. You are welcome to join us on the Youtube stream instead.

Discord Community

We have also set up a Discord community for additional discussions before and after the seminars. To join it, write a short application to our email at metanoia.ouroboros@gmail.com with the subject-line “Ouroboros Discord Application”. Provide an introduction of yourself, your CV/academic background, and why you want to join the community, and after reviewing, we’ll send you a link to the Discord.

Session Structure

  1. Introduction by moderator.
  2. Presentation of article by speaker of the day (20-40 minutes)
  3. Discussion (60 minutes)
    • Attendants write their questions to the moderator privately on Zoom, specifying whether they wish to voice them themselves or have the moderator do it in their stead.
    • Keep questions short and to the point. No long lead-ins, please.
    • Raise hands using the Zoom function if you wish to respond to a point and the moderator will invite you to speak when the opportunity arises.
  4. Postfestum: The events will be uploaded to our Youtube channel, and a precis of the session will be posted on this website for easier tracking.


Every session will begin at 18:00 Central European Summer Time.

17 MarchVarela, “Calculus of Self-Reference” (1975)
and Varela & Gougen “The Arithmetic of Closure” (1978)
Louis Kauffman» Watch
» Summary
7 AprilVarela, “Not One, Not Two” (1976)Evan Thompson» Watch
» Summary
21 April at 10:00 CESTVarela, “Autonomy and Autopoiesis” (1981) & “Steps to a Cybernetics of Autonomy” (1986)Tom Froese» Watch
» Summary
5 May at
18:00 CEST
Thompson, Palacios, Varela, “Ways of coloring: Comparative color vision as a case study for cognitive science” (1992)Adrian Palacios» Watch
» Summary
19 May at
18:00 CEST
Varela, “Organism: A Meshwork of Selfless Selves” (1991) & “Patterns of Life” (1997)Ezequiel A. Di Paolo» Watch
» Summary
2 June at
18:00 CEST
Varela, “Whence Perceptual Meaning” (1992)Mog Stapleton» Watch
» Summary
16 June at
18:00 CEST
Varela, “A Cognitive View of Immune System” (1994)Hugues Bersini» Watch
» Summary
July/August = break
1 September at
18:00 CEST
Varela, “Neurophenomenology” (1996)Antoine Lutz» Watch
» Summary
15 September at
18:00 CEST
Varela, “The phenomenology of Sunyata”Michel Bitbol» Watch
» Summary
6 October at
18:00 CEST
Varela, Depraz, Vermersch, “The Gesture of Awareness” (1999)Claire Petitmengin» Watch
» Summary
20 October at
18:00 CEST
Varela, Weber, “Life after Kant – Natural purposes and the autopoietic foundations of biological individuality”Andreas Weber
3 November at
18:00 CET
Varela, “Steps to a Science of Inter-being”Hanne de Jaegher
17 November at
18:00 CET
Varela, Depraz, “At the Source of Time” (2005)Natalie Depraz
1 December at
18:00 CET
Final Session: Varela, “Intimate Distances” (2001)Amy Varela


Click on any of the speakers to learn more about them.