The recurrent action of an element in a system, which activates some process.
This is a systemic extension of the classical chemical model of catalysis.
M. ZELENY observes that "…it is unreasonable to assume that the catalyst is unaffected by its participation in the production of links. Each single act of production diminishes its catalytic power. Initially, when there is a lot of free substrate, the number of produced links is naturally very high. At the same time, the number of holes necessary for disintegration is still very low" (1977).
However, the catalyst uses up the substrate and, as a consequence, finds less opportunities to act. It is its own activity which limits, and finally suppresses its capacity for activity.
This seems to open avenues for the explanation of what ZELENY calls "built-in death" of autopoietic organizations.
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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