Article: An Autopoietic Conflict Model (English)
An Autopoietic Conflict Model

Conflicts, whence they come?

Conflict and autopoiesis

by Jan Willem van Ee


I have never met anyone who enjoyed it when he was embroiled in a conflict. There are individual differences, but everyone wants to live in peace rather than conflict. But the experience is that we all regularly have to deal with conflicts of all kinds, parents and children, between partners, at work and so on.

The almost general view is that a conflict takes place between the parties to the conflict and that it is about the matter on which they disagree. The conflict theory I will develope in this article shows that it works out very differently. The conflict exists only in each of the persons of the opposing parties themselves. Each party has an entirely different conflict, that is, the conflict is not between the parties but is entirely in each of them. The contents of the outer visible conflict does not matter, but these contents are only the reason to play out the internal conflict.

This is initially so different from how reality looks like that this idea seems to be ripe for trash. However, I invite the reader to read on and look into the examples and situations that follow, and I propose only then to decide if what I say is true. After reading and understanding of what follows your world view will have changed and by it yourself. This change will lie herein that the certainty with which you may now look at the world around you, the certainty that the world really is as you perceive it, shall be replaced by the knowledge that the world outside of you is just only as you perceive it and that this perception is limited by what you can observe biologically and by your structure, that is what you have learned in the course of your life.

The theory on which my conflict model is based is called autopoiesis.[1] The word comes from Greek and means: make yourself. Autos in Greek, is self, and poiein is the verb for to make. We humans are creatures who make ourselves and we are constantly the actual end product of this process.

This theory is therefore interesting in the field of conflict theory, because it shows that, contrary to most theories of conflict, it is not about the interaction between people in the conflict, but the inner process of the people in the interaction.

My aim is to show that conflict is not a purely interactive process, but rather a process that is rooted in the person himself. If the conflict is not about interaction, but happens only in the forum internum of humans, this induces the possiblilty to search for an area of knowledge that is responsible for starting and maintaining the conflict and possibly solve it. Describing this area is what this article is about. The understanding of it and the application of the consequences provides the personal change that is necessary in order to deal with conflicts external, and if possible to solve these internally.


(This article is a translation of the article on this website: Conflicten, vanwaar komen ze; Conflict en autopoiesis)

The translation was made by google translation and manually rectified. If you feel that mistakes are still obvious, I would be obliged to hear at