TVs, Tops, and the primary (primordial) self-reference

In Dominique Paß’s book „Bewußtsein und Ästhetik“ 1 you find a short excerpt of L. H. Kauffman’s paper „Self-reference and recursive forms“ 2.


Figure: „primary (primordial) self-reference“


The same visualization could be found in (Westphal 2006 – Freeing Data From the Silos)3, but without the mathematical background provided by Kauffman’s paper.

Kauffman’s visualization of the „primary (primordial) self-reference“, where the aspect of the original self-reference is stressed, has the same qualities as Spencer-Brown’s „mark of distinction“. Besides „mark“, Kauffman denotes the marking, that is given in the form of the arrow here also pointing the way ahead, as „barb“ or „pointer“ as well. (cf. combinative pointer)

Paß writes on p. 162 quoting Kauffman:

„Therefore, self-reference and the idea of distinction are inseparable (hence conceptually identical).“ (…) Die Markierung („pointer“) wird konstruktiv, insofern mit der Markierung der Raum entsteht, auf den die Markierung verweist. Mehr noch: „the mark points […] to its own location, and in this process becomes a locus of reference. The mark referes to itself. The whole refers to itself through the mark.“ (…)




1Paß, Dominik (2006): Bewusstsein und Ästhetik. Die Faszination der Kunst. Bielefeld: Aisthesis. (

2Kauffman, Louis H. (1987): Self-reference and recursive forms. In: Journal of social and biological structures, 10, pp. 53–72.

3Westphal, Ralf (2006): Freeing Data From the Silos. A Relationistic Approach to Information Processing. Available online at, esp. pp. 13–14.


Ein Gedanke zu “TVs, Tops, and the primary (primordial) self-reference”

  1. Hello Ralf.

    Truly fascinating. Seems like self-referent „wormholes“ are everywhere in Physics. Pity I am not a physicist. Just wrote very quickly a Greek summary of the Boundary Institute’s ideas on causality (basically, they are… against it! -hehe).

    Also recent results (theorem proved by Art Collings) in the LoF List, indicate we’re on the correct path, generally; Still haven’t done any work on linking Pile with M.F. Logic, however (tangled in programming Knots in CLP – constraints programming) and (at the moment) trying to set up a SWI-Prolog CLP application on a server (of a friend’s company).

    You are the featured blog these days in WordPress, for the tag „Lof“.

    Best of luck,

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