Cultural-Biology: Systemic Consequences of Our Evolutionary Natural Drift as Molecular Autopoietic Systems
Humberto Maturana R.1 • Ximena Dávila Yáñez1 • Simón Ramírez Muñoz1
Found Sci (2016) 21:631–678
Published online: 28 September 2015
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015
1 Matríztic School of Santiago, Rosario Sur Street No 91 Office 304, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
Humberto Maturana R. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ximena Dávila Yáñez email@example.com
Simón Ramírez Muñoz firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract Our purpose in this essay is to introduce new concepts (dynamic architecture and dynamic ecological organism-niche unity, among other) in a wide and recursive view of the systemic consequences of the following biological facts that I (Maturana in Biology of cognition, 1970, Unity and diversity of man. Le Seuil, Paris, 1978; Maturana and Varela in Autopoiesis and cognition: the realization of the living. D. Riedel Publishing Co, Boston, 1980, El Árbol del Conocimiento: Las Bases Bioógicas del Conocer Humano, 1a Edición. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, 1984; Maturana and Mpodozis in Rev Chil Hist Nat 73:261–310, 2000) and we (Maturana and Dávila in Habitar humano: en seis ensayos de biología-cultural. Juan Carlos Sáez Editorial, Chile, 2008) have presented that can be resumed as: (1) that as living systems we human beings are molecular autopoietic system; (2) that living systems live only as long as they find themselves in a medium that provides them with all the conditions that make the realization of their living possible, that is, in the continuous conservation of their relation of adaptation to the circumstances in which they find themselves; (3) that as a living system exists only in a relation of adaptation with the medium that operates as its ecological niche, its reproduction necessarily occurs as a process of systemic duplication or multiplication of the ecological organism-niche unity that it integrates; (4) that the worlds of doings that we generate as languaging beings in our conversations, explanations, reflections and theories are part of our ecological niche; and (5) that we human beings as living beings that exist in languaging, are biological–cultural beings in which our cultural and our biological manners of existences can be distinguished but cannot be separated. Of the systemic consequences of these biological facts that we consider in this essay, we wish to mention two as the principal: (1) that the diversification of manners of living produced in biological evolution is the result of differential survival in a changing medium through the conservation of adaptation, and not through competitive survival of the best; and (2) that we in our living as languaging human beings (observers) are the epistemological fundament of all that we do and know as such.
Keywords Humanness · Cognition · Evolution · Living beings · Epistemology · Reality
Part 1: Where Do We Living Beings Exist?
The reﬂections that we present here correspond to our thinking in the domain of our living as biological–cultural beings since we began to work together after creating Matríztica1 in 2000. Therefore, they show our present vision and understanding of our human living as molecular autopoietic beings that exist as loving languaging persons that generally care for what happens as a consequence of what they do to other persons, to other living beings and to the biosphere in general, … but sometimes they do not. Yes, sometimes we human beings do not care for the consequences of what we do, and we always justify our lack of care with some ad-hoc theory that negates love blinding us to the fact that love is the fundamental sensory, operational and relational condition of the harmony of the ecological ambiance in which a living being can exist, and constitutes the operational relational matrix that makes possible our human living as Homo sapiens-amans amans2 by making possible the realization and conservation of our molecular autopoiesis as such.
In Matríztica we have been concerned with the operational unity of the organism and its manner of living in the realization of its living in the ecological organism-niche unity in which it exists. And we have done so referring implicitly to the manner of living of an individual organism as its ‘‘cultural domain’’, acknowledging that the individual life of every organism occurs as an epigenetic process in an ontogenic history that last as long as its life. From that perspective this article is an essay in cultural-biology, almost as a new perspective in our understanding our living as cultural–biological beings. So, we now present our reﬂections as cultural-biologists. We has shown that the relational nature of the realization of the living of a living being as a molecular autopoietic system, reveals that love3 arises with the arising of the molecular autopoietic system as the sensorial–operational–relational dynamics that makes possible the happening of that part of the medium in which the realization and conservation of its existence is possible (Maturana and Dávila 2015). In what follows we shall call that part of the medium that arises simultaneously with a molecular autopoietic system making it possible, its dynamic ecological niche. In this essay we shall reﬂect on what appears in our understanding as we expand our comprehension of how happens the realization of the living of living systems as they operate as organisms in the dynamic ecological niche that they integrate. And we shall do so following the implications of the observation that love is the fundament of the possibility of the arising and the existence of the molecular autopoietic system and the dynamic ecological niche that makes it possible as well as the condition of possibility of the relational nature of the realization of our human existence as socially and ethically conscious living beings. We call this fundamental relation for the existence of anything, ecological love relation.
Whether we like it or not, we human beings and our living as persons that can reﬂect on what they do, are the question, the path to answer it and the answer itself in our attempt to explain our living and the cosmos that we ﬁnd ourselves inhabiting. This is why we say that: ‘‘Everything said is said by a multisensory observer to another multisensory observer that could be him or herself.’’ (Maturana and Dávila 2015) But to operate as an observer a multisensory living being must operate (exist) as a languaging reﬂective being as we human beings are. And it is in our existing as reﬂective languaging human beings that we can operate as observers and we do all that we do as multisensory observers distinguishing ourselves doing all what we do.
We human beings ﬁnd ourselves doing what we do when we ask ourselves about ‘‘how do we do what we do?’’ And in the process of answering this question, as we analyze our body we ﬁnd that we are made of molecules (implying as we say this all the elements, relations and processes that the molecular space entails) in the same way that all material entities that we distinguish as we do what we do. Moreover, as we observe the molecular processes that constitute our individual existence we ﬁnd that we are molecular autopoietic systems, and that we do all that we do in the continuous realization of our being molecular autopoietic systems (Maturana and Varela 1980).
We human beings ﬁnd ourselves doing what we do in the moment that we reﬂect about what we do, and as we reﬂect about how we do what we do, we ﬁnd ourselves being languaging human beings wanting to explain our living. We do not need any ontological justiﬁcation for our reﬂections, and, as a matter of fact, we ﬁnd ourselves being the epistemological fundament of what we do. As we observe our being, we ﬁnd that the answer to any question that we may ask about how do we do what we do, and about how do we understand the worlds that we generate in our living, appears as we explain the coherence of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living while we show that the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems constitutes the epistemological operational fundament of all our doings, all our explaining, and of all our understanding.
1.2 Systemic Laws
When we speak of systemic laws (Maturana and Dávila 2008), we speak of abstractions that we make as multisensory observers4 of the coherences and regularities that appear in what we do as we explain the coherences and regularities of what we do as molecular autopoietic systems with the sensorial–operational–relational coherences and regularities of what we do as we realize our living as molecular autopoietic systems. Accordingly, the systemic laws, as all that we call laws of nature, are not descriptions of what should happen, but are abstractions of the sensory–operational–relational regularities and coherences of the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems.
1*–Conservation, change and transformation Whenever in a collection of elements a configuration of relations begins to be conserved, a space opens for everything else to change and transform around the configuration of relations being conserved. When this happens an operational entity arises that will last conserving its identity as long as the configuration of relations that defines it is conserved, regardless of any transformation or changes that might otherwise have or may be taking place in it or around it.
2*–Structural determinism Everything that we human beings distinguish as we operate observing what we do, arises in our distinction as an entity, as a process, or as a configuration of entities or processes constituted with features or characteristics that appear determined by what we do as we distinguish it: Everything that we distinguish operates and participates in what we do operating with the features or characteristics with which they arise as we distinguished them. We refer to this fundamental feature of the world or cosmos that arises as we explain what we do in the realization of our living with what we do in the realization of our living, as structural determinism. Accordingly we say that every entity, every process, every system operates according to its structural constitution.
3*–Cosmic love relation The relation of operational coherence between whatever entity happens to be distinguished by an observer, and that part of the medium that operates in relation with it making it possible, and happens while it is realized and conserved, we call the relation of cosmic love.
4*–Fundamental inertia Everything that is happening continuous happening unless some other happening interferes with it, and the happenings change.
5*–Natural drift The natural drift (Maturana and Mpodozis 2000) of living beings in general (organisms), and of human beings in particular, follows a path that arises defined moment after moment by their sensoriality in what an observer sees as their ‘‘preferences or desires, dislikes or fears …’’ and that continuously results in that the organism and its dynamic ecological niche change together congruently. The natural drift is a process that the attentive observers can see that courses without alternatives, finality or purpose; alternatives, finality and purpose are notions and distinctions that pertain to the domain of the expectations or desires of the observer, and not to the domain of the occurrence or operation of what happens in the course of the natural drift.
1.3 Existence,5 Reality and Fundamental Inertia
When we languaging human beings speak in our cultural present of reality, or say that something is real, what we are saying is that we feel that the something that we distinguished had been there before we distinguished it, and that it occurs with independency of whatever we may have done as we distinguished it. And as we say so, we also say that the distinguished entity, whatever its kind, existed, had presence by itself, independently of what we may have done as we distinguished it. Furthermore, in our cultural present the expression ‘‘to exists’’ means that the something to which it is applied occurs or has presence in the domain of our distinctions: to exists means to occur, to have presence. And in our present cultural parlance we tend to equate reality with existence, as is shown by questions such as: Is that real? Does that thing in fact exists?
Yet, as languaging human beings we also now know that we cannot claim that anything has presence or exists by itself because we know that in the experience we do not know and cannot know, due to our condition of structure determined systems, whether what we live as valid at any instant we shall confirm it later as a perception or we shall invalidate it as an illusion or as a mistake as we compare it with some other experience of which we choose not to doubt (Maturana and Varela 1984). This is why in our daily living we frequently ask, how do you know? And that this is so is not due to some insufficiency or failure of our nervous system or of our sensory organs: we are biologically that way. In these circumstances, in this essay whenever we say that something exists or that has existence, we shall mean that that something ‘‘has presence’’ or ‘‘that it occurs’’ as a result of what we do as we distinguish it, and that it arises into existence with the characteristics with which it arises determined by the operation of distinction with which we distinguished it, and, therefore, that it does not occur with independency of what we do as we distinguish it. Being that the case, in what follows we shall use the word existence to refer to the condition of operational presence that arises with what we do in our distinctions and naming, and that the entity, process, concept, or whatever we distinguish or talk about will have presence, that is, it will exist, only as long as the conditions implied in the operation of distinction with which we distinguished it as we talked about it, can be performed. We call fundamental inertia the continued conservation of existence that holds as long as the conditions of the operation of distinction that constitute what we may be distinguishing are conserved. Once the observer makes a distinction in the realization of his or her living, that which is distinguished arises into existence together with the dynamic matrix of the sensory–operational–relational conditions that makes it to occur or possible. Accordingly, as we acknowledge that we exist as molecular autopoietic beings we acknowledge that whatever we say as reflexive languaging human living beings, we say it talking from our implicit or explicit understanding and acceptance of our operation as structurally determined molecular autopoietic beings. And we do so also in the implicit understanding and acceptance that we operate in the domain of the fundamental inertia in which happens all that happens in the cosmos that arises as we explain the operational coherences of the realization of our living with the operational coherences of the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic beings.
In other words, what we are saying, and which is all that we can say, is that as a living being arose spontaneously in the remote past of our planet at the same time arose with it, and generated by it, the individual dynamic ecological niche that both nested it, making possible its existence and conservation as a molecular autopoietic system, and constituted with it the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity as the initial fundament of the evolutionary history of living beings. Or more explicitly, we are claiming two basic things: one, that what begun in the origin of living systems as autonomous discrete entities, was the existence of living beings as dynamic ecological organism–niche unities; and two, that what has occurred since then in the evolutionary history of the natural drift of living beings has been the uninterrupted conservation and diversification of lineages of different dynamic ecological organism–niche unities under the form of different manners of living.
Perhaps what is most uncanny although not unexpected in these circumstances, is that the cosmos that arises with all that we do, all that we live and all that we distinguish as languaging human beings, happens in our operation as such in the closed dynamics of our realization as molecular autopoietic systems in the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that we integrate. All that happens in our living, all that we do as we live, arises and occurs as entities, processes and configurations of entities and processes that are coherent with whatever transformation we make in our operation in the molecular domain that arises as we distinguish ourselves as molecular autopoietic systems, and we feel that molecules occur as if they existed independently of what we do, even though we know through what we do that they are not because they arise with what we do as we distinguish them. Furthermore, all that we live occurs as a spontaneous result of the operation of all that happens in the fundamental inertia and structural determinism that appears as the possibility of the existence of all that we distinguish and do as we generate the cosmos that we live as we explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living in the closed dynamics of the ecological organism–unity in which we realize our living as molecular autopoietic systems. We human beings living in the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that we integrate as we live together are the epistemological condition of possibility of all that occurs and may occur in the cosmos that we generate in our living as we explain the coherences of our living with the coherences of the realization of our living. In these circumstances the greatest vital danger that we human beings face in our collective living as humanity, is the ecological disharmony that arises in the anthroposphere-biosphere unity that we generate in our living when we do not understand and accept the fact that it is us who give rise to the worlds that we live as cultural–biological human beings.
1.4 Dynamic Ecological Organism-Niche Unity
In biology when an observer distinguishes a single living being or a collection of living beings constituting together a single larger living being or a collection of living beings operating together as a totality, he or she speaks either of organisms, of colonies, of communities, or of ecological systems, depending on the intimacy that he or she sees in the closeness of the interrelation of the individual living beings. In fundamental terms, biologists speak of organisms when they refer to a single cell or to a closely spatially interconnected group of cells that operate as a single totality, and they speak of a colony, of a community, or of an ecological system as they refer to their distinction of the manner of their interdependent operation as a totalities as they constitute what appears to be a loosely interconnected collection or group of otherwise apparently independent autonomous organisms.
An observer that observes an organism in the realization of its living, and distinguishes it existing in a domain of events, entities and processes, that extend far beyond the area which appears to him or her to be its surrounding circumstances, he or she usually calls that more extended area that appears to him or her containing it, the medium in which the organism exists. Furthermore, the observer also sees that the organism lives only while the flow of its interactions with the medium, that he or she sees contains it, happens to operate as an ambience adequate for the continuous realization of its molecular autopoiesis as a whole. We have been calling that part of the medium in which the observer sees that an organism is continuously encountering itself in spontaneous sensorial, operational and relational harmony so that it lives, its dynamic ecological niche. In fact, any entity that we distinguish as we operate as observers arises in our operation of distinction implying the sensory–operational–relational matrix in which its existence is possible. The relation with the medium that makes possible the dynamic ecological organism–niche, in which an organism exists, is what we have called ‘‘cosmic love relation’’ and lasts only as long as the conditions of the fundamental inertia apply as it is apparent in the conservation of the living of the organism. As we have just said, in the domain of living beings we refer to this saying that all living beings and all systems of living beings exist only if the cosmic love relation is conserved in their recursive encounters in the medium that makes possible the arising of their dynamic ecological niche.
The dynamic ecological niche in which a living system realizes its living as an organism, arises with the organism as this interacts with the medium that contains it following a path that is moment by moment generated by the operation of its sensoriality as the path in which its living results being conserved, whatever the nature of the sensory–operational–relational domain in which it operates according to the realization of its molecular autopoiesis. The organism and the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that arises with it, constitute together the ecological organism–niche operational unity (dynamic ecological organism–niche unity) that the organism integrates as the manner of living in which it realizes its molecular autopoiesis. The dynamic ecological organism–niche unity thus constitutes what an observer sees as the manner of living that is conserved generation after generation in the constitution and conservation of a lineage6 through systemic reproduction. In us human beings that dynamic ecological organism-niche unity is our biological–cultural existence.
What an observer distinguishes as the particular part of the medium in which he or she finds that an organism exists realizing its living, appears in his or her distinction as a domain of entities and processes that has its own operational dynamics independent of the operational dynamics of the organism. The operational dynamics of the medium is distinguishable from the operational dynamics of the organism in that the latter appears in the interaction as arising from a dynamic operational boundary generated by the continuous closed realization of the organism’s molecular autopoiesis. As a result the sensory–operational–relational dynamics of the organism and the sensory–operational–relational dynamics of its ecological niche as this arises in the medium that the observer sees containing them, modulate each other’s structural dynamics through the recursive interactions of their respective components as they operate in structural interactions in an operational–relational dynamics in which they conserve their respective independent identities. Accordingly, what an observer distinguishes as he or she distinguishes an organism is that the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity in which the organism realizes its molecular autopoiesis does not preexist to the organism that lives it because it arises with the living of the organism. In this process the observer also sees that the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity continuously arises moment after moment de novo at the tangent encounter of the organism with the medium, following moment after moment the path in which its molecular autopoiesis is conserved guided by its multi-sensoriality in the conservation of its sensory wellbeing.
When an observer distinguishes an entity or process, what defines it in its singularity is the configuration of relations that is implied by the operation of distinction performed by him or her or implied by his or her naming it. So, there is no operational confusion in the operation of the different processes or structural dynamic entities involved in the continuous transformation of the ecological organism-niche unity while the molecular autopoiesis of the organism is conserved.
1.5 Domains of Existence of Living Beings
Living occurs as the continuous realization of the molecular autopoiesis of the molecular autopoietic systems. Living beings exist as molecular autopoietic systems in the domain of their internal dynamics, and exist as well as organisms as they operate as totalities recursively interacting and relating as discrete entities in the interactional and relational domain that an observer sees arising with them as their dynamic ecological niche as they realize their living. This process lasts while the living being operates as an organism in its ecological niche interchanging molecules and energy with it as they mutually trigger in each other structural changes in a process in which they undergo recursive congruent structural changes that lasts while the organizational identity of the organism is conserved. An observer of these recursive interactional sensory–operational–relational processes can see that each living being may realize successively or simultaneously several different manners of living as different sensory–relational–operational dynamics that occur as different manners of realization of its molecular autopoiesis through the same body-hood along its ontogeny. It is the observer that sees these different manners of operation of anorganism along its ontogeny as several not intersecting sensory–operational–relational domains, who must not confuse them as he or she attempts to understand all the transformations that occur along the living of every living being. Moreover, the flow of the relational dynamics that occurs in the realization of the living of an organism in its recursive interactions in its ecological niche, change continuously according to the structural changes that each one is undergoing as a result of their encounters and of their respective independent operational dynamics; and this occurs through the continuous realization of the manner of living of the organism that is taking place in the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that it integrates with its ecological niche. Furthermore, this process of recursive coherent structural transformation of the organism and its dynamic ecological niche lasts as long as the molecular autopoiesis of the organism is conserved.
This means, that all sensory–operational–relational aspects of what is occurring in the different dimensions of the realization of the different manners of living that the different kinds of dynamic ecological organism–niche unities that an organism may live, are for different organisms different aspects of the dynamic ecological niche that they live in their ontogeny. And this is so regardless of how strange they may appear to an observer, because all of them occur as different forms or manners of living that are being conserved as different lineages through the systemic reproduction of the different dynamic ecological organism–niche unities that they integrate while their living is conserved. In these circumstances an observer may find him or herself distinguishing different concrete and abstract forms of manners of living that occur as different forms or manners of behaving that may go from what appears to him or her as unconscious configurations of inner feelings to conscious and unconscious behaviors that arise through reflection or theoretical philosophical, scientific or artistic behaviors in the case of human beings. All these different relational dynamics that occur as different forms or manners of the realization of the ecological organism–niche unity in the realization of the molecular autopoiesis of an organism, to an observer appears as different structurally intersecting but independent domains of existence. Moreover, each one of the different domains of existence that different living systems live, constitute as it is being lived all that there is for the living system that lives it: each living being, whatever its kind, and whatever may be happening to it or with it in its living, lives as valid all that it lives in the moment that it lives it.
1.6 Dynamic Ecological Niche
As we have said a living being lives as an organism only as long as it encounters itself in sensory–operational–relational coherence with its ecological niche, or, what is the same, it lives in the conservation of its relation of adaptation to the circumstances of its living in the flow of the continuous realization of its molecular autopoiesis, or it disintegrates and something else appears instead in front of the observer. In these circumstances the different sensorial, operational and relational dimensions of the dynamic ecological niche that the different kinds of living beings live, constitute different manners of living as different worlds or domains of existence that occur as different domains of sensory-operational-relational processes that they inhabit in the realization of their molecular autopoiesis. All these different worlds or domains of existence intersect in their realization in the body-hood of the organism as this realizes its molecular autopoiesis, but as different domains of existence they consist in different not intersecting domains of sensory–operational–relational processes, each defined by the particular configuration of the dynamic architecture that constitutes it as a distinct manner of living.
Yet, there is one fundamental kind of sensory–operational–relations that all organisms generate in the realization of their living that under the form of different configurations of dynamic relations define, moment after moment, their different manners of relating with other living beings in all the different worlds that they live, and that we as observers usually call emotions. Furthermore, all these different configurations of sensory–operational–relational processes constitute different aspects of the dynamic ecological niche that arises with each organism as it interacts at its dynamic multi-sensory, multi-operational, and multi-relational surfaces with the medium in which it exists, and in which its dynamic ecological niche arises anew continuously. The dynamic ecological niche has no fix extension or boundary, precisely because it exists only as it is happening as the dynamic sensorial–operational–relational domain that arises anew as the organism encounters moment after moment the dynamic part of the medium7 in which it conserves the dynamic wellbeing of the realization of its molecular autopoiesis. That is, either the recursive interactions of the organism with the medium result in the continuous arising of its ecological niche through the continuous realization of its molecular autopoiesis as a consequence of the operation of the sensory-effectors correlations that it generates at its sensory–relational–operational-boundary, or it disintegrates. Or, said in a somewhat different manner, an organism lives only in the conservation moment after moment of its wellbeing as it operates as a totality in the continuous arising of its always new dynamic ecological niche through the recursive interplay of its sensoriality with it, or it dies disappearing with its niche.
The domain of existence of the observer occurs in its observing (Maturana 1990) as it arises distinguishing him or herself in self–distinction as a person with all that arises as she or he reflects about what she or he does and reflect, in the realization of his or her living in language (languaging). In these circumstances, all that an observer does in his or her living, regardless of whether this occurs in what he or she may call his or her concrete or abstract sensory–operational–relational existence as a human being, constitutes his or her dynamic ecological niche in his or her realization as a molecular autopoietic system.
1.7 Different Manners of Living: Different Dynamic Ecological Niches
The dynamic ecological niche of an organism includes everything that an observer may see as if in its operation were external to it, and that he or she sees that is triggering in the organism structural changes that alter its operation as a totality in its relational space while it follows a path of structural transformation that courses in the conservation of the continuous realization of its molecular autopoiesis. The main result of this is that the observer that makes these distinctions sees that the organism and its dynamic ecological niche change together congruently as an operationally integrated harmonious dynamic ecological organism–niche unity in which its ontogenic phenotype8 (Maturana and Mpodozis 2000) becomes its manner of living which is as such the whole world that the organism lives in its individual life. When some particular variation in the realization of a dynamic ecological organism–niche unity begins to be conserved from one generation to the next as a new dynamic ontogenic phenotype through the dynamics of systemic reproduction, a new lineage arises as a new world defined by the new manner of living that is being conserved: the manner of living that constitutes the dynamic ontogenic phenotype of an organism determines all that may happen to it at any moment in the continuous changing present of the realization of the living of the organism that lives it.
The systemic reproduction of an organism conserves its manner of living in the form of an ontogenic phenotype that as a dynamic ecological organism–niche unity operates as a dynamic spatiotemporal network of harmonic sensory–operational–relational coherent processes interrelated in the form of a dynamic architecture through the realization of its individual living. Whatever structural elements and relational processes happen to be conserved in the systemic reproduction of an ecological organism–niche unity are aspects of its realization. An observer of the sensory–operational–relational dynamics of some organisms, whose dynamic ecological niches intersect, may see that all the organisms that have intersecting ecological niches behave as if each one of them could anticipate what the others will do in the flow of the different sensory–operational–relational processes that take place in the different circumstances in which find themselves living together. Moreover and in general terms, if the observer attends to the interactions of one organism with another living being with which it has had some history of interactions, he or she will see that the observed organism behaves as if it knew the inner feelings of that other living being in the moment and place in which they encounter. In our living together in our cultural present when we observe the coherent behaviors resulting from such unexpected apparent foresights, we speak of inter-subjectivity, implying some direct mental or psychic manner of interaction that cannot occur. But what happens is that when we live together our dynamic ecological niches intersect and we generate an operational domain of inter-objectivity (Maturana 2005).
As we have said, the ecological niche is a dynamic operational entity that exists only in an operational relation with an organism. The dynamic ecological niche exists as everything that operates as if it were external to the organism, arising as all that interacts withits components at its sensory–operational–relational surface which itself arises as an operational boundary in the conservation of the organization of the organism through the realization of its manner of living. In these circumstances, when an observer speaks of the ecological niche that arises in the realization of the living of an organism, he or she is connoting all the processes that he or she happens to distinguish as affecting its operation while it conserves the manner of living that constitutes its individual identity as it lives it. The ecological niche appears to the observer as having what he or she may call concrete and abstract dimensions. That which the observer of human beings may call concrete dimensions appear as operations that he or she may say that take place as physical interactions such as manipulative acts or behaviors, and those that he or she may call abstract dimension are those that he or she may say that correspond to operations such as ideas, concepts, theories and spiritual and aesthetic beliefs, preferences or experiences that modulate the relational space in which the others occur. As everything that happens or may happen in the operation of an organism occurs in and through the realization of its dynamic architecture in the realization of its molecular autopoiesis, that which we as observers call abstract dimensions in our operation as languaging human being occur as reflective abstractions that we make of our relational and interactional behavior as we operate as languaging and reflective beings in the course of our realization as molecular autopoietic systems.
1.8 How Do We Human Beings Exist?
All living beings exist in their operation as dynamic ontogenic entities, that is, they exist in their individual realization as molecular autopoietic systems integrating a dynamic ecological organism–niche unity. A lineage exists as a historical entity occurring as a succession of systemically reproduced manner of living ontogenic phenotypes. When an observer distinguishes an organism what matters for him or her is what he or she sees that is happening to it in its individual realization in its dynamic ecological niche, and when an observer distinguishes a lineage, what matters for him or her is what he or she sees that is conserved in the systemic reproduction of its manner of living. We human beings as languaging living beings are peculiar in the sense that we can reflect, and do reflect, about our individual living and about the worlds that we generate alone or with others in communities constituted as networks of conversations. That is, we human beings exist as persons, as reflective beings in self-awareness, realizing our ontogenic living in dynamic ecological organism–niche unities that occur as manners of social and not social networks of conversations sustained by emotional and rational relations, continuously generating theories with which we explain how we live and justify what we do and what we do not do (Maturana and Dávila 2008).
1.9 Molecular Domain: Operational Fundament of Everything
As we distinguish ourselves through our operations of distinctions, we find ourselves through our operation as molecular autopoietic systems to be composed of molecules. The molecular domain appears as the grounding domain of all that we do in our existing as languaging and reflecting human living beings. And in our curiosity one of the things that we recursively do is to analyze what we distinguish; thus we analyze molecules finding that they arise as composite entities, and then we analyze the components that appear as we analyze molecules and we find them composed of other elements and their relations, and then we analyze … and so on into what appears as the unending domain of quantum physic. In each of the new steps of our analysis new operational relational domains appear defined by unexpected operational–relational coherences that can be studied with our operation in the realization of our molecular autopoiesis, but cannot be reduced to them. Something similar happens when we study the domains that arise with the composition of supra-molecular entities and new domains arise with unexpected features that have their own operational–relational coherences. But in this process we find as observers that the only domain in which the phenomenon of autopoiesis occurs as a network of interacting elements that through their interactions generate elements of their same class that through their recursive interactions generate the same network of components and processes that produced them giving rise to the autonomous self-producing entities that are the living beings, is the molecular domain. The fact that the molecular domain arises as our domain of existence as we distinguish ourselves as molecular autopoietic systems, shows that we languaging reflective human living beings operate doing whatever we do through the continuous realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems.
The molecular domain that arises as we analyze the sensory–operational–relational coherences and our own constitution as living beings, and find that we are molecular autopoietic systems, shows us that although we cannot speak of molecules as if they existed in themselves in some transcendental reality, our understanding of operational–relational coherences of the molecular domain in which we exist, opens to us the path to see and understand the cosmos that arises as we explain the operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living with what we do with the operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living. Whatever we do, think or imagine in the realization of our living occurs as an operational relational doing in the realization of our living in the molecular operational–relational of the realization as molecular autopoietic systems. Whatever we may do as reflective languaging human beings Homo sapiens–amans amans, we do it in the realization of our molecular autopoiesis in the molecular domain while our soul is our human ecological niche.
Therefore, the effective difference of the different things that we do is not in what we do, not in the thingness, materiality or form of the acts of doing, but in the relational space in which they takes place in our individual living. In the flow of our living and in the flow of the networks of conversations in which we participate as individual persons, our relational living in the ecological organism-niche unity that we integrate is continuously changing in a manner that is not necessarily always apparent to the observer. And they are not necessarily apparent to him or her because they occur in our inner feelings (Maturana and Dávila 2008) in the continuous present in which we live our living. In these circumstances, the meaning or the sense of what a person does always appears to the observer that beholds her as abstraction of the coherences of what that person appears to him/her to be doing. So, the same doings (behavior) participate in different flows of coordinations of feelings, doings and emotions according to the relational domain in which they take place in the ecological organism-niche unity in which the observed person is acting. A philosophical conversation occurs in an abstract domain for an observer that does not participate in it, but in the concreteness of the doings in the domain of the doings that it evokes in those that do so.
All that happens in our living as languaging human beings, it happens in the domain of the recursive coordinations of the inner feelings, the doings and the emotions that we coordinate in our languaging as we operate in conversations and reflections. That is, all that occurs through our conversations occurs in the concreteness of the doings that our languaging coordinates (Maturana 1978). The concreteness of a doings pertains to the domain of the sensory-effectors correlations in which it occurs in the doings of the person in the conversation in which she is immersed. So, if the person is immersed in a philosophical conversation the doings coordinated have the concreteness of the doings that take place in a philosophical conversation. If the philosophical conversation is about ethics, the doings coordinated will be those proper to the domain of ethical relations.
1.10 Natural Drift
The evolution of living systems occurs as a process of generation and conservation of different lineages of different manners of living through the systemic reproduction9 of the dynamic ontogenic ecological organism–niche unity in which each living system realizes its molecular autopoiesis. Whenever a variation in the manner of realization of the living of some member of a lineage begins to be conserved as a new form of dynamic ecological ontogenic organism-niche unity through its systemic reproduction, a new lineage arises. We call this process of generation and conservation of new lineages of new manners of living as dynamic ecological organism–niche unities through systemic reproduction, evolution through natural drift. Therefore, in the process of evolutionary natural drift the systemic reproduction the molecular autopoiesis of an organism entails that the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity in which this exists, is conserved as a systemic totality.
The evolutionary natural drift does not occur as a probabilistic or aleatory dynamics, it occurs as a deterministic process guided moment after moment by the operation of the sensoriality of the organisms when such operation results in the continuous realization of its molecular autopoiesis through the conservation of its wellbeing. There is no aim for a result, no foresight, no purpose, no intentionality, in this process. The organism moves in its living in an operational–relational space defined by its sensory and effectors surfaces, and slides in its recursive interactions with the medium continuously following a path generated anew at ever instant by the operation of its sensoriality. If in the flow of these interactions the organism conserves its molecular autopoiesis its ecological niche is conserved, and the organism continues realizing its molecular autopoiesis in it. If in the recursive interactions of the organism in the medium its ecological niche is not conserved, either as a result of some structural change triggered in the medium by the organism, or as a result of the independent structural dynamics of the medium, the organism disintegrate and dies.
In evolutionary natural drift the arising, diversification and extinction of lineages occurs as a result of the spontaneous conservation or not conservation of new or old manners of living through the sequential systemic reproduction of particular dynamic ecological organism–unities as their dynamic architecture is realized in an independently changing medium. And this happens without the participation of any metaphysical mechanism of biological advantage as the organisms slide in the medium following the different path that arise moment after moment according to the play of their sensoriality in the locality of their encounters with the medium in which they realize their individual manners of operating as molecular autopoietic beings. When in this process the dynamic ecological niche arises in which the organisms undergo systemic reproduction, an old lineage is conserved or a new one arises, depending of what is being conserved in the systemic reproduction. If the dynamic ecological niche in which the particular manner of living of an organism could undergo systemic reproduction does not arise, the manner of living of that organism is not conserved and its lineage comes to end. Notions of improvement, progress, perfection, efficiency or of comparative advantage, belong to the domain of the cultural living of the observer, and no matter how comfortable their use may seem, they do not apply in the domain of the processes that occur in the cosmos that arises as we explain the coherences of the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems with the coherences of the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems: ‘‘Nothing that occurs in the operation of the cosmos in which we exist as molecular autopoietic beings occurs because its occurrence, or the results of its occurrence, were necessary for its occurrence in any happening that takes place outside the domain of human design’’.
The cosmos that arises as we explain our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living is not chaotic, not probabilistic or stochastic in its own operational nature, these notions refer to our ignorance or incapacity of making computations in some particular domains because we have not been able of abstracting the basic configuration of sensory, operational and relational coherences that define the sensory–operational–relational matrix that constitutes that domain. Natural drift is the spontaneous historical manner in which all processes occur in the cosmos that arises as we explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our living.
1.11 Where Do We Exit as Reflective Observers?
A living being exists in the sensory–operational–relational domain that it integrates as the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity in which it realizes its living. Therefore, the dynamic ecological niche of an organism involves all the concrete and abstract dimensions of its manner of living. The manner of living of an organism is its dynamic ecological niche that is transforming with it along the epigenesis of its ontogeny. This is a recursive process in which the basic structural dynamics (genetic determination) of the anatomy and physiology of the organism together with the consensual (learned) variations that take place in its epigenesis are conserved in the constitution of a lineage through the systemic reproduction of the organisms that realize it.
Our human manner of living as languaging reflective beings constitutes our biological and cultural existence as the dynamic ecological unity that is our biological–cultural niche in which we recursively realize our molecular autopoiesis as reflective human beings. Our reflective languaging manner of living as biological–cultural organisms is both our manner of living and our recursive dynamic ecological niche as the domain in which we describe how we live, reflect on what we do, and in which we may reflect on what we do as we reflect on what we do as we ask ourselves about whether we like what we say that we like. Moreover, we reflective languaging human beings can live as persons that choose to live in a relational dynamics that they choose to conserve open for new reflections, or as persons that choose to live in dogmatic relations denying for themselves and others the possibility of conserving the possibility of being always open to recursive reflective choices. Whichever manner of living we choose to live as languaging reflective human beings, the manner of living that we live is ourselves living the realization of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity that we are.
Whatever we do, think, imagine, understand, accept or reject … generates and conforms at every instant our living and the path of living that we follow, as occurs with all living systems in which whatever happens in them or with them constitutes ecological dynamic organism-niche unite that is the realization of their living. We are not different from other living beings in the realization of our living; what is peculiar to us is that we as cultural-biological beings that live in conversations and reflections, are the only living beings on the earth that can reflect on their own inner feelings and choose whether they want to do or do not want to do what they claim that they want to do. In an operational way, living systems exist in the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity that they continuously generate and integrate as they move in their living following a path that is being generated at every moment through their sensoriality in the conservation of their wellbeing.
Part 2: How are We Made?
2.1 Dynamic Architectures (1)
As we speak of an organism we refer to its manner of constitution as a molecular autopoietic system, and in doing so we are continuously connoting the dynamic manner of disposition of its molecular components. So we wish to make a reflection about three conceptual–operational notions that are basic for the understanding how we do exist as human living beings that operate as reflective self-conscious persons. These conceptual–operational notions are: structure, organization and dynamic architecture.
(a) When we human beings, as we operate as observers distinguish a composite entity, we distinguish a totality in which we distinguish the components and the relations between them that constitute it as the totality that we had distinguished. In this distinction we speak of the structure of the composite entity when we refer to the components and the relations between them that realize it as such totality as a particular case of a particular class of composite entities. At the same time, when we speak of the organization of the composite entity we refer to the configuration of the relations between its components that define its class identity as a composite totality. In these circumstances the structure of a composite entity can change in two ways: either in a way in which the configuration of relations that constitutes the organization that defines the class identity of the composite entity is conserved through those structural changes, or in a way in which the configuration of relations that constitutes the organization of the composite entity is not conserved through those structural changes. In the first case the composite entity changes its characteristics but conserves its class identity; in the second case as the configuration of relations that constitute the organization that defines the class identity of the composite entity is not conserved and it disintegrates, and as result something else appears instead.
When in daily life we speak of the history of any give composite entity we refer to its structural changes with conservation of its class identity that it may have undergo because its organization has not changed (Maturana and Varela 1984). At the same time when we as observers distinguish a composite unity and pay attention to the configuration or form of the disposition of the elements that compose its structure we speak of its architecture, and we can speak of dynamic or static architectures. So, when we speak of the dynamic or static architecture of a composite entity we refer to the manner of its realization as a composite entity in the sensory–operational–relational domain in which we distinguish it. To do this allows us to see the transformation of the particular composite entity that we may be distinguishing as the history of its continuously changing present in the sensory–operational–relational domain in which it arises together with its dynamic ecological niche as the dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity in which it exists. The understanding of the historical transformation of a dynamic composite entity such as an ecological organism–niche unity as it happens as a dynamic architecture, permits us to see that what seems to be structural interactions occurring between temporally and spatially separated entities or processes that have been explained usually resorting to the invention of metaphysical relations such as purpose, regulation, control, intentionality, and progress, are not so. But appear to be so due the structural harmony that is continuously arising in interacting systems from the structural coupling (Maturana and Varela 1984) and historical correlations that happens in them in their natural drift as a result of their occurring as interrelated dynamic architectures.
(b) That which must have happened when the first molecular autopoietic systems arose on the earth, some three thousand eight hundred million years ago, must have been the spontaneous arising of many molecular autopoietic systems that constituted as discrete entities individual organisms integrated in the dynamic ecological niches that arose with them and that as they were conserved initiated the natural structural drift of living beings. And as those dynamic ecological organism–niche unities were conserved through the continued realization of their molecular autopoiesis, they became the basic primary dynamic architecture that constituted the beginning of the evolutionary drift of living systems. Moreover, when these primitive organisms underwent some accidental fracture that resulted in the arising of two or more molecular autopoietic systems with the dynamic ecological niches that they integrated, reproduction occurred. Lastly, when recursive reproduction begun to occur lineages arose, and with them the lineal path for the reproductive conservation of the original or of variations of the original dynamic architecture of the primitive living beings; and as this occurred a path of structural drift was opened, giving rise to an unavoidable historical recursive increase of diversification and complexity of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unities under successive reproduction. The process of reproduction is operationally very simple as it occurs whenever a composite unity undergoes a fracture in which its organization is conserved in the realization of its resulting fragments. In these circumstances, in living systems what is conserved in the reproductive process is the dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity in which the reproducing living system realizes its living.
As the dynamic architecture of an organism undergoes its individual ontogenic structural transformation, an observer can see that the organism and its ecological niche that arises with it change together congruently. Furthermore, the observer can also see that the manner of relating of the organism with its niche and the manner of relating of the organism-niche unity with the medium in which it occurs, also change together congruently constituting a network of systemic dynamic architectures that change together following the path in which the configuration of the systemic dynamic configuration of the realization of the molecular autopoiesis of each organism, is conserved. When the living of an organism (its molecular autopoietic dynamics) stops being conserved and it dies, the dynamic architecture of the system organism-niche-medium disintegrates. Indeed this occurs in the individual history of the dynamic architecture of any dynamic composite singularity that we may distinguish in the cosmos that arises as we explain the coherences of our living with the coherences of the realization of our living.
(c) In our historical present, when an observer distinguishes a particular ‘‘stem cell’’, such as a zygote in a sexually reproducing organisms, what he or she sees is a singular dynamic architecture participating as a single cell organism in the initiation of the constitution of a composite larger dynamic architecture with its ecological niche and the medium in which it occurs as an initial dynamic configuration in a self-assembling (spontaneous assembling) architectural process. And as the dynamic architecture of that composite entity changes, what the observer sees is a history of transformation of the composite entity in sensory, operational and relational dynamic structural congruence with its changing ecological niche while it conserves its identity as a composite unity. This process is relatively easy to see if oneself is attentive to observe what happens in a pregnant woman, as it is now days possible to follow the transformation of the embryo in the uterus, and one observes that it occurs as a process in which every change in the embryo occurs in coherent dynamic congruence with the changes of the uterus, of the mother, of the family niche, and that it dies when that dynamic coherent congruence does not take place.
At first sight what happens in the embryonic development appears to the observer as a process that goes to a pre–established end that has a complexity that appears inexplicable without the operation of some metaphysical organizing principles such as intentionality, purpose or implicit design. Now days we biologists would not generally accept explicitly such metaphysical organizing principles, but they appear hidden in notions of coding and information which do not describe the molecular processes involved and replace them with equally metaphysical notions such as control and regulation (Maturana 2007, 1974). Yet, if we consider that what we see that is happening at every instant spontaneously in the process of the embryonic development, is only a moment of the present of a history of structural transformations of an interrelated system of dynamic architectures, we can understand that what we see happening with the organism and its niche is the local operation of a dynamic network of structural coherences that arose in a history of structural coupling in the evolutionary drift of a network of lineages of living entities that began millions of years earlier in the reproductive conservation of variations in the manner of realization of the molecular autopoiesis of the members of the of some original network of lineages. As the natural drift of different lineages of organism began to take place in some geographical place that contained them, the structural changes conserved in the members of each lineage were only those in which the dynamic of the molecular autopoiesis of the different reproducing organisms of the different lineages was conserved in the common dynamic ecological niche that arose in their domain of coexistence, regardless of the form that was taking the increasing historical structural complexity of the ecological organism-niche unity in which their respective manners of living were realized. As all this begun to happen some three thousand eight thousand million years ago, the evolutionary history of the biosphere begun as a grand system of interrelated different manners of living that occurred as different dynamic ecological organisms-niche unities that occurred as inter-related systems of dynamic architectures. The history of the network of lineages of living beings that constitutes the biosphere has occurred and occurs as a process of structural drift in which the different lineages follow the path that arises in the contingencies of the conservation of the living of its members, or comes to an end. This historical process of structural change in which the lineages follow the path in which the living of their members happen to be conserved according to their structural dynamic coherence with ecological circumstances that arise with the conservation of their living, is what we have called evolutionary drift.
The evolutionary drift of living systems has been from their beginning the history of the arising and conservation of variation of the dynamic structural configuration that constituted the original dynamic architecture that realized the molecular autopoiesis together with the structural variations that realized and conserved through systemic reproduction the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity of the manner of living of the first organisms without the participation of any metaphysical principle of purpose, control, design, or regulation. Once that dynamic architecture appeared, and begun to be conserved through systemic reproduction, biological evolution became a historical process that spontaneously generated different stem cells (mother cell in Spanish) with dynamic architectures that realized different manners of living as a process that did not need, as we have just said, of the participation of any metaphysical organizing principle like control, design, planning, intentionality, purpose or coding and decoding of information to occur. No doubt that in the present we speak of genetic determination and coding of information, and we think that we understand what is occurring because we can do some measure of manipulations that seems to be biologically effective according to the way we describe what we think that is happening, but in fact we blind ourselves about the molecular processes involved as they occur without any ‘‘concern’’ about the result of their occurrence. We can see, for example, that if some thing particular happens in the relation of the stem cell with its ecological niche its architectural transformation goes in one direction, and that if something else happens it goes in another direction. We can say that different regulatory genes were activated in the two cases, and that one controlled the process in a way in which it went in one direction, and that the other in other did something different so that there are two path of control … but let us see the dynamic molecular architecture that might have been involved as spontaneous self-assembling processes.
(d) At some moment along the initial continuous spontaneous arising of the primeval bacteria as discrete entities, all this in the midst of molecular mixing and transforming, RNA first and much later DNA nucleic acids, must have been incorporated as part ofthe dynamics of the realization and conservation of their molecular autopoiesis. As that happened the ontogenic and phylogenic natural drift of the primeval bacteria must have followed a path in which the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that they integrated was transforming around the conservation of the molecular architecture that realized them as molecular autopoietic systems that operated as dynamic ecological stem cell–niche unities in their systemic reproductive dynamics including some of those molecules. When some primeval bacterium became a dynamic ecological stem–cell–niche unity (stem–cell–niche unity) as it divided in a way in which another bacterium similar to it appeared together with its ecological niche, a lineage arose in the initiation of the systemic reproductive conservation of that bacterial form of living under the form of a dynamic ecological organism–niche unity. Moreover, as that reproductive manner of living happened, each variation in the stem–cell–niche unity that appeared in the natural drift of the bacterial lineages became the fundament for the arising and the systemic reproductive conservation of further variations in the stem–cell–niche unity manner of living, giving rise to a process of systemic reproductive conservation of stem–cell–niche unities that became the fundament for the generation of many different forms of living in the arising biosphere.
The evolutionary history of living beings has occurred as the history of the natural drift of the systemic reproductive generation and conservation of different lineages of stem–cell–niche unities whose different dynamic architectures could each realize in its individual manner of living its respective particular dynamic ecological organisms–niche unity as its individual molecular autopoiesis, and its individual ontogeny as its particular dynamic ecological organism–niche unity. What is the participation of nucleic acids in all this?
The DNA is a linear molecule composed as a chain of different combinations of four different small ones (nucleotides) that operates in determining with the participation of RNA molecules in the synthesis of polypeptides and proteins determining the sequence of the amino acids that constitute them. It is this peculiar manner of operation of the DNA and RNA what has lead us biologists think that we can claim that the DNA codifies the synthesis of proteins and what happens in the organism because ‘‘it contains the information’’ that properly de-codified tells the organism what to do. This is a good description in a semantic domain, but obscures what happens in the process of the continuous operation of the dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity in which the living of the organism occurs in its ontogeny. But, let us see.
In the continuous changing present in which living systems live as networks of cyclical processes intertwined with linear ones in their continuous realization as molecular autopoietic systems, the linear processes participate in the sequential (temporal) occurring of those processes as they arise as transformations of the previous ones in a historical dynamics. A dynamic architecture is a historical process of structural change and transformation of a composite entity of some kind around the conservation of its operation. Ontogeny is the dynamic architecture of the continuous transformation and change of the realization of the individual organism-niche ecological unity. As such the ontogeny is a lineal process, and it is as an element of that linearity that the DNA macro molecules operates determining moment after moment what kinds of processes and molecules of the organism or of the ecological niche, participate at any moment in the processes that take place in the realization of the living of the organism in the niche that arises with it. That is, the DNA through its lineal arrangement participates in the sequential timing of the activation and inhibition of the processes of molecular synthesis, as well as what molecules are synthesized and when in the contingencies of the continuously changing present of the structural (molecular) configuration of the dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity that the organism integrates at any moment.
When a primeval molecular autopoietic system and its ecological niche undergoes a division that results in two primeval molecular autopoietic systems in their respective ecological niches, a systemic reproductive process has taken place, and that primeval ‘‘bacterium’’ or ‘‘cell’’ and its ecological niche have become an ecological stem–cell niche unity. And when that occurs, the further systemic reproduction of the dynamic architecture of such primeval unity makes that primeval unity the founding ecological stem–cell–niche unity of an arising lineage. The systemic reproduction of the dynamic architecture of an ecological stem–cell–niche unity conserves simultaneously the molecular autopoiesis of the reproducing cell and the structural configuration of the new ecological cell–niche unity that makes possible that it may operate as a systemically reproducing ecological stem–cell–niche unity. Indeed, this must have happened at least with some primeval bacteria that as they reproduced systemically gave origin to the ecological stem-cell-niche unities that gave rise to several lineages of ecological stem cell-niche unities, one of which became that to which we belong. The present day ecological stem-cell-niche unities are thus all the present of a history of recursive transformation of the dynamic ecological architecture of some primeval ecological stem cell-niche unities through the uninterrupted systemic reproductive generation of millions of lineages.
In these circumstances it also happens that all that occurs with an organism is an aspect of the present of the ontogenic changes of some ecological stem-cell–niche unity that is the present of the uninterrupted history of the sequential systemic reproduction of dynamic ecological stem-cell–niche unities in which the dynamic architecture of the stem-cells and their ecological niches have been changing around the systemic reproductive conservation of the molecular autopoiesis through the systemic reproductive conservation of the stem-cells in their abilities to generate the dynamic architecture that gives rise to the ecological organism–niche ontogeny that makes them possible as the fundament of the lineage of the manner of living to which they belong. Along this process both the structure of the cytoplasm of the stem-cells, the DNA and the ecological niche in which the organisms realize their living have changed together congruently following the course followed by the natural drift of the conservation of the lineages to which they belong. This is a historical process that has occurred and occurs without design or aim to a desired end, it is a process that just occurs as a continuous resulting that happens with no intentionality or purpose. In this historical process the DNA does not operate codifying information about the different structures, processes or functions of the organisms. The DNA operates in the continuous realization of the ever changing present of the dynamic architecture of the ecological organism–niche unity through its participation in the synthesis of different kinds of molecules and in the activation and inhibition of relational and structural processes in some sequential order proper to the epigenesis of the ontogeny of the organism that has arisen in the transformation of the ecological stem-cell-niche unity as a result of the evolutionary drift of the lineage to which it belongs. In this sensory, operational and relational structural dynamics that results moment after moment in the sequential arising of the molecular processes that realize and conserve moment after moment the operation of the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity, the DNA operates establishing moment after moment the sequential order of those processes. This manner of operation of the DNA results in the continuous arising and conservation of the molecular operational and relational configurations that realizes a stem-cell as an ecological dynamic cellular architecture that gives origin to an ontogenic process that results in some particular manner of living, which if it is conserved through systemic reproduction results in the arising of a lineage of that particular form of living.10
In summary we can say and repeat that the evolution of living systems is the history of the systemic reproductive conservation of variations of the form of operation of the dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological stem-cells–niche unities in a way in which the changes in their dynamic ontogenic architecture gives rise to new manners of living that become new lineages as they are conserved through their systemic reproduction. As we observe a stem-cell, in the intent of seeing the manner how it is made in order to discover how it operates, we soon find ourselves facing a complexity that is not easy to understand in its present, nor how it arose in the evolutionary history through natural selection. Yet we have shown that if we change our point of view and consider it having in mind that evolution occurs as a process of arising and diversification of lineages through natural phylogenic drift (Maturana and Mpodozis 2000), and that the realization of the living of a living system happens as the transformation of the ecological organism-niche unity as a dynamic architecture, things become more simple. At any instant of the happening of a dynamic architecture its present structural configuration is the starting point for whatever may happen next as it determines what may happen next. In these circumstances the order at which the epigenetic processes occur along the ontogeny of an organism started by the activation of a stem cell, is determined at every instant by the architectural configuration of the organism and the architectural configuration of its ecological niche at that instant, with the particular ordering participation of the linear arrangement of the DNA molecules and of the encounters of the organism in its ecological niche.
The initial structural arrangement of any ecological stem–cell niche unity of any lineage of reproducing ecological organism–niche unities along the history of the biosphere (or was in those lineages that became extinct), is the result of the history of architectural transformation of the ecological stem–cell–niche unities in the evolutionary drift of the lineages to which they have belonged, through their systemic reproduction with the simultaneous conservation of both the molecular autopoiesis and the capacity of operating as an ecological stem–cell–niche unity in the dynamic medium in which they happen to arise. And if we ask about what occurs in the biosphere, we realize that the same process happens in the network of lineages that constitute it as a network of dynamic intercrossing of dynamic architectures in the intercrossing of the realization of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unities of the living beings that compose it at any instant.
(e) The dynamic architecture of the ecological stem-cell-niche unity that initiates the development of an embryo does not resemble the dynamic architecture of the grown organism that will result from its transformation. Moreover it is not directly apparent how the continuous transformation of the developing embryo occurs in the continuous conservation of its molecular autopoiesis and the architectural arrangement of the systemic reproduction of the ecological stem–cell–niche. Yet, since we know that the embryonic process occurs as the transformation of the dynamic architecture of a composite entity without any final purpose in it, we understand that we do not need notions of control or regulation to explain how that is taking place. Those notions belong to the domain of our reflections as observers, and if we intend to apply them to the structural dynamics of the developing embryo they become metaphysical principles. The same happens with the notion of information coding in the nucleic acids: the molecules of nucleic acids participate in the metabolism of the cell through their participation in the synthesis of molecules through their interactions with other molecules, in the network of the molecular dynamics of the self-assembling processes of the metabolism. In these circumstances the use of notions that claim that in the nucleic acids is coded the information necessary for the operation of the cell gives to those notions a metaphysical power that obscure their spontaneous self-assembling nature.
If we were to look at our personal history to recount it from our birth or even before it, we would see that everything that we lived concatenated in a process that was bringing us step by step to the present that we are now living … and yet, it was not so, we were not coming to be where we are now, our present is a result, not the attainment of an objective or aim. The result of a process does not participate in its origin.
2.2 Dynamic Architecture (2)
(a) When an observer distinguishes a composite entity11 as it operates as a totality, he or she does so by distinguishing in its components and the relations between them as they realize it as the totality that he or she had originally distinguished. The components and the relations between them that realize a composite entity as a totality are, its structure, that is, the manner that it is made. And the configuration of relations between the components of a composite entity that define its class identity is its organization (Maturana and Varela 1984). The structure of a composite entity may be dynamic changing continuously as occurs in living beings, and the entity conserves its class identity while those changes occur with the conservation of its organization. When the structure of a composite entity changes in a way that its organization as a composite entity of a particular class is not conserved, the original composite entity disintegrates and something else appears in its place. As an observer distinguishes the structure of a composite unity looking at the static or dynamic relational disposition of its components he or she distinguishes the static and/or dynamic architecture of the composite entity as it arises in his or her distinction as a totality in the sensory–operational–relational space in which he or she distinguishes it.
Things, processes, entities, relations … the observer itself … do not exist independently of the operations of distinction that an observer performs as he or she distinguishes whatever he or she distinguishes, even him or herself. We human beings find ourselves living beings and we find ourselves operating as observers when we begin to distinguish ourselves doing all that we do as we distinguish ourselves doing what we do. We feel ourselves living in a world that contains us, but when we wish to talk about it we find ourselves immersed in what we do. We feel that there should be a background of independent existence that makes us possible, and sustains all that happens in our living as we do all that we do … all that we seem to discover as we discover the universe or cosmos that seems to exist outside us, but which whenever we talk about it or describe it, we describe and explain it with the operational coherences of what we do. And we invent some kind of transcendental entity that we call reality or the real. In fact, we cannot speak about something that transcends what we do, but what we can say with our doings is not little. That is, we can say that all that we distinguish either arises from some unspeakable nothingness as a new domain of operational coherences in the realization of our living, or as some new aspect of some particular domain of operational coherences about which we can speak because it belongs to our daily experience in the realization of our living as languaging human beings. And we can also say that everything that happens in the realization of our living happens according to the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living, and nothing that we distinguish arises from some chaotic process that is occurring intrinsically outside the domain of the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living. Not even the events of the domain of quantum physics are outside the domain of the realization of our living to the extent that we can speak of them in terms of probabilities, and make adequate computations about the course of their happening. And this is so because a calculus of probabilities, or a computations using probabilistic notions, entails that the domain in which we are making our computations is not chaotic and happens as a domain of operational and relational regularities that we cannot describe (Maturana 1990), but which constitutes anyhow the fundamental dynamic architecture in which all that we distinguish with our doings occurs as an aspect of the realization of our living with what we do in the realization of our living.
Accordingly, we can also say that when we distinguish a living being we distinguish it in its operation as a molecular autopoietic system, and as we do so we find that everything that happens in it or with it occurs in the continuous realization of its changing dynamic architecture as an aspect of the dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological niche that arises with it and constitutes with it a dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that exists as a changing dynamic architecture in some dimension of what may happen in the operational–relational domain implied by its existing as an autopoietic molecular systems. And we can speak of these three conceptual–operational entities in terms of their individual identities as organism, ecological niche and ecological organism–niche unity, in relation to what is conserved in each of them as a particular structural dynamics while they operate as different dynamic architectures that constitute together through their structural interactions the ecological organism-niche unity that realizes the manner of living of the organism that is integrated with it in the realization of its molecular autopoiesis. And all this is occurring continuously in the continuously changing present in the sensory–operational–relational domain in which we human beings exist as we do all that we do as molecular autopoietic systems.
(b) The notions of architecture and dynamic architecture entail a vision of the processes that generate, realize and conserve a particular dynamic composite entity as a particular case of some particular kind in its changing present. The observing of how a changing dynamic architecture operates as a human creation brings with it the possibility of visualizing how processes that occur as historically separated independent happenings appear to affect each other in particular temporally separated moments in the flow of the continuously changing present in which the living of a living being is happening. And it is in the attempt to explain how that happens in the coherent transformation of the ontogeny of an organism in which temporally separated process seem to affect each other what has lead us human in the long history of our reflections to invent metaphysical notions of regulation, modulation, control, codification and de-codification of information. The operating living being that we distinguish as observers occurs as a historical present between a disappearing past and a not yet lived future, and what we see as observer in the present of our observing it is only the continuous present of a dynamic architecture in which there are structural changes without the operation of relations of regulation or control; so that all what an observer sees is a transit of structural changes in the realization of the living of a living being, and not its individual form as a totality which occurs as a historical entity in a historical domain: The living being occurs as a historically changing present in the ‘‘cero time’’ of a historical entity that exists as a changing dynamic architecture.
Thus, the expression ‘‘changing dynamic architecture’’ represents an abstraction of the coherent flow of structural changes in the changing configuration of the dynamic coherences of the processes that realize the living of a living being as a composite historical totality, that occurs as a network of interconnected processes that appear in our experiences as we observe them at different moments as disconnected happenings that seem to need the operation of some special metaphysical agency that may integrate them in the realization of the living organism in its ecological niche. And as we just said above it is in our attempt to give coherence to such apparently disconnected happening in the realization of the living of the organism that we have to invent explanatory notions such as regulation, modulation and control. We do not see an organism as a totality as we observe it in the moment of its changing present; what we see at any moment is a sequence of some sort of ‘‘photographic’’ sections of its happening that we integrate as a discrete historical entity through the combination of our multi-sensorial experiences as they arise in our continuous observation of its changing present, or through our comparison of what we have seen to happen in different organisms in different moments of their life history. If we were to take a multidimensional picture of an organism that would show us the position and relations of all the molecular elements that compose it as a molecular autopoietic system in a particular instant, all that we would see is a static configuration, and not a molecular autopoietic system. And we would not see a molecular autopoietic system because the molecular autopoietic system exists as a molecular dynamic entity in the flow of its operation as a continuously changing historical totality in its ecological niche.
(c) What we are saying is that the notion of a changing dynamic architecture applies to the operation of an organism and its dynamic ecological niche individually as well as to the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that they integrate when they live together as a collective totality as they realize their individual living in their individual ecological niches. And we are saying as well that the living of an organism occurs as the continuous result of the operation of its ontogenic changing dynamic architecture as an individual molecular autopoietic composite entity. Indeed, what we have said implies that all the composite entities that may arise as we distinguish them, occur as dynamic architectures of different kinds in different sensory–operational–relational domains according to the nature of the components and of the relations that arise as their structure in the moment in which we distinguish them.
Moreover, what is conserved in the natural drift of the different kinds of entities that we bring forth with our operations of distinction as we explain the cosmos that arises with what we do as we explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our living as molecular autopoietic beings with the sensory–operational coherences of the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems, are changing configurations of dynamic architectures. The cosmos in which we live arises with our living it, and as we arise in it, it is the extended dynamic changing medium in which arises the ecological niche in which we exist in the ecological organism–niche unities as languaging reflective human beings that generate the cosmos in which they live as they explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of their living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of their living (Maturana and Dávila 2015).
We human beings exist in a cognitive explanatory dynamics that as such is like a Moebius circular ribbon with no beginning, no end, and no other side, and which is such that if we want to explain how it operates from some transcendental view we must destroy it as we invent another side by cutting it from an arbitrary imaginary external perspective as we stand on it.
2.3 Spontaneous Architectures
(a) Every spontaneous and not spontaneous architectural process in our molecular domain of existence occur according the operational forms of the molecules involved as this is determined by their dynamic structural coherences. Molecules and atoms interact with each other like the pieces of a puzzle, fitting with each other according to their congruent forms (energetic coherences) and they give rise to dynamic and static molecular architectures. Accordingly, a molecular autopoietic system operates as such as a dynamic architecture of dynamic configurations of energetic coherences. The metabolism of a cell realizes its operation as a dynamic molecular architecture; the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity happens as a systemic dynamic architecture, the ontogeny of an organism happens as a systemic dynamic architecture integrated in the multidimensional systemic dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological niche unity that it integrates as it realizes its living. A crystal occurs in principle as a static architecture. In these circumstances, in the process of the arising of a dynamic architecture the forms of the molecules that at any instant are fitting together, determine what molecular forms they may ‘‘admit’’ in their interactions; and this occurs in a way such that the course of the processes in which the participating molecules participate is determined at every instant by the dynamic form of the molecules that are already participating in it. This dynamics is acknowledged in the expression self-assembly that is used in cellular biology to refer to the spontaneous synthesis of some complex molecules in the metabolic dynamic of the cell. In fact all that occurs in our domain of existence occurs spontaneously as a self-assembling dynamic architecture. It is the self-assembling nature of the dynamics of molecular and atomic processes what is at the base of the historical conservative character of the evolutionary natural drift. The spontaneous architecture in the natural drift of the cosmos that arises as we explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living in the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that we integrate with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living, is what we human beings attempt to describe and to understand as we want to explain and understand our living.
(b) We human beings explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our living, and as we do so we are both historians and participants of the natural drift of the spontaneous dynamic systemic architecture of the cosmos in which we happen to exist. Yes, we are historians that at the same time realize the history that they reveal. The dynamic architecture of the cosmos that arises as we describe and explain the operational and relational coherences of the realization of our living with the operational and relational coherences of the realization of our living has no design, no purpose, no intent… it just occurs as the happening of a multi-dimensional and multi-spatial self-assembling ecological dynamics of what occurs in the realization of our molecular autopoiesis.
2.4 Ontogenic Architecture: From a Stem-Cell-Niche Unity on
(a) Order, harmony, form … are not features of the spontaneous dynamics of the cosmos that arises as we explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living. Order and disorder, harmony and disharmony, form and chaos, do not exist as operational features of the cosmos that arises as we explain the realization of our living with the operational coherences of the realization of our living; they are notions that we propose to refer to configurations of dynamic coherences that we abstract in its dynamics in relation to the regularities that we distinguish in the realization of our living. All that an observer can say about the cosmos that arises as he or she explains the coherences of his or her living with the coherences of his or her living, is that it appears is a spontaneous dynamic systemic architecture of networks of processes that appeared to him or her as he or she begun to say something about the world in which he or she lived, and that until then he or she had been just living. Disorder appears as he or she displaces things in a way such that operational well-being appears, or reappears if it had been lost, disharmony appears as he or she changes things or processes in such a way that relational wellbeing appears, or reappears if it had been lost. Chaos arises as an inner feeling of despair when we find ourselves in a relational situation in which we cannot show that there was or there is disorder.
Our way of living and our understanding of it appears to us now to be much more rich and complex than what we may think that it must have been when our ancestors begun asking questions as they begun ordering and harmonizing their lives. Yet, in our daily living order is still secondary to disorder as we act to recover well-being, and harmony is still secondary to disharmony as we act to recover some lost coherences in our living, all in processes in which we appear as the generators of the domestic order and coherences in our living. Our ancestors did not live in disorder, disharmony or chaos. The worlds that they lived must have been fundamentally ordered, harmonious and reliable, not chaotic because as they were living they knew how to look. They saw configurations of ecological relational in the multidimensionality of the worlds that were arising with their living; and they saw that there were configurations that were more conservative than others … that is they were living essentially in the same way as us when they began to generate their living in languaging. So it must have been along their living in language in reflective conversations that our early ancestor observing the order and harmony that arose in their intentional doings of their daily living, that the question about how or who created the order and harmony that they observed in the worlds that they encountered in their daily living begun to hunt them, and still hunts us now. And since we always feel that that which we distinguish occurs by itself with independency of what we do, the answer must have been for them as it still is for us now in our psychic nature, something like this: ‘‘it must be an entity similar to us, but more powerful that we must respect, a physical or metaphysical ordering and harmonizing principle that conserves order and harmony in the cosmos’’. The idea that order and harmony in the worlds that we live are not of a spontaneous origin must be very … very … very old in our human history, and this is why when we want to explain and understand the order and harmony that we see in natural happenings we always seem to need a design or plan as well as a designer or comptroller that must guide its application for that order or harmony to rise at all.
This is the main difficulty for understanding the arising of order and harmony in morphogenesis due to the complexity of the process of embryological growth, imagining that it must occur under genetic determination for the conservation of form and function in reproduction and evolution. This difficulty, however, vanishes or diminishes if we change our attention and the questions that we ask.
(b) The usual question that we ask in our experience as designers, is: what must be done so that a certain desired result is obtained? And if we ask such a question we know that what we have to do is to design a procedure or plan that we must follow in our doings approximating to the form or process that we want to happen: we must create a preview of what we want. And we think that somehow in biological processes such as ontogeny, growth in embryogenesis, natural selection for ecological coherences, … the same thing must happen: there must be some sort of plan to attain a desired end, and we invent some explanatory principles such as genetic heredity, communication, coding and decoding in transmission of information, … but in doing so we are secretly resorting to some metaphysical imaginary notions. But if we change our question, and instead of asking ‘‘what guides morphogenesis such that in the process certain forms and behaviors arise that are adequate for the survival of the organism’’, we ask, how do occur natural process, including embryonic growth, that all different organisms live their continuous changing present in adequate coherence with their changing dynamic ecological niches?
All the processes and entities of the cosmos that arises as we explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living arise and occur in a domain of dynamic structural determinism. That is, all the processes and entities that we distinguish as human observers in the cosmos that arises as we explain our living with our living interact and relate according to the different configurations of sensory–operational–relational coherences that constitute their different structures and define their individual operational space as they arise with the operation of distinction through which we distinguish them. So, what happens in the encounters and interactions of the different elements of the cosmos at any instant in any locality that we may distinguish in it, is determined always by their local dynamic structural coherences at every instant, and the course followed by the encounters of the elements of each locality is determined at every instant by their changing dynamic structural coherences as these arise moment after moment as a result of their interactions. The configuration of the dynamic structural coherences of any locality of the cosmos that we may distinguish as it arises as we explain the coherences of the realization of our living with the coherences of the realization of our living, is at every instant the present of a history of coherent structural changes. As a result, any distinction of an entity, relation or process that an observer makes brings forth the distinguished entity, relation or process together with the systemic ecological niche in which it occurs, regardless of whether the observer is aware of this or not. Accordingly, whatever the observer may distinguish arises as a dynamic ecological singularity whose coherences with the dynamic ecological niche in which it occurs are at every moment the result of a history of coherent transformations in the systemic locality of the cosmos in which it occurs.
In other words, at every instant any small or large locality of the cosmos constitutes a spontaneous open or closed coherent dynamic architecture as the present of a historical flow of structural transformations according to what results being conserved in the process. As we observers observe the dynamics of the cosmos we can see that this is valid for all localities in it and we can see the history of the arising, conservation and transformation of architectural configurations that go from quantum processes, atoms, molecules, stars, galaxies, … to molecular autopoietic systems, cultures … depending on the moment of the historical flow that we happen to pay attention to.
Thus, if we happen to attend to the locality in which is occurring the spontaneous molecular autopoiesis of a mammalian embryo in the dynamic ecological niche unity that it integrates in the womb of its mother, we now know that that happening is the present of some three thousand eight hundred million years of the evolutionary drift of the conservation of the dynamic architectures of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unities that begun then as molecular autopoietic systems. And we also know that that embryo is an aspect of the coherent dynamic historical present of the cosmos that arises with our distinction. And if we know and understand all that we have been saying along this essay, we know that that which we distinguish at any instant in the cosmos is the changing present of some local dynamic architecture in which we can always say that whatever occurs and the manner in which it occurs and the circumstances in which is happening whatever happens, is the present of a historical transformation around something that has been conserved, and that all has necessarily taken place in dynamic ecological structural coherence or would not be occurring now at all. In these circumstances, the operational structural and functional coherence of the embryonic processes in the maternal uterus should not surprise us, because what at first glance appears for us mysterious or improbable coherences between two accidentally encountering totally independent processes, the growth of the embryo and the relational ecological niche in which it occurs in the mother’s womb, are in fact not totally independent processes, but are historical correlations of interrelated aspects of the dynamic architecture of the transforming locality of the cosmos that arose with our distinction. Accordingly, if we want to understand how does the dynamic architecture operates as it gives rise to whatever it gives rise, we have to attend to the initial conditions of whatever is being considered as a particular dynamic ecological structural configuration that will be a continuously arising present that is at every instant a historical totality of coherent structural configurations valid in itself. Totality that at each moment is a part of a larger historical totality which the observer could understand only if he or she manages to observe both mentioned above, in the flow of their historically correlated transformation. Indeed this is what we human beings do as we observe what we live as biological–cultural beings (Maturana and Dávila 2008) and reflect about what we live and do. Whenever a composite unite of any kind arises in any domain, the arising totality occurs as such in a different sensory–operational–relational domain than its components and has different characteristics than these; nevertheless as the new totality interacts through its components its history of interactions with other composite entities necessarily results in a process of transformations of all the participants that constitutes a network of structural correlations. This is what happens in the growth of an embryo with the embryo and the mother and … constituting a dynamic ecological embryo-niche unity.
(c) All occurs spontaneously in the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity in which the embryo, the mother and we as observing observers happen to exist part of the resulting historical present of that architecturally coherent ecological organism-niche unity. Moreover, to describe how this history of coherent processes that result eventually in the birth of an independent autonomous living being, we do not need to refer to any notion of purpose, external or internal control, adaptation, information, genetic information, program, communication or phylogenetic drive … or other notions that we use to explain the harmonious dynamics that we see as we seem to see how the different functions and characteristics of the form and manners of operation of the organism are generated by the dynamics of its epigenesis. Indeed, we biologists and philosophers have invented those notions as generative principles to explain how those functions or characteristics of the manner of living and relating of an organism in its niche have been generated such that they are indeed adequate for its living, precisely because we operate in that way when we want to design some instrument or machine that should operate in a pre-specified manner. But now we know so much of anatomy and physiology that we want to see how the organisms operate as structural dynamic entities and the explanatory principles become reductionist invitations that do not let us see the nature of the structural processes involved. Nothing exists by itself, all things, concepts, notions, processes … arise in the operation of distinction of the observer, and so what arises in the sensory–operational–relational space of the observer and what is the dynamic architecture that sustains that sensory–operational–relational space in the dynamic ecological niche of the observer depends on the operations of distinction of the observer (Maturana and Varela 1984). But whatever happens in the operation of the observer occurs in a coherent historical locality in the cosmos that arises in the biological–cultural locality that he or she generates in his or her living. Nothing is chaotic or haphazard in the biological–cultural domain that arises as the observer exists as a biological–cultural being that generates the cosmos in which he or she exists as he or she explains and describes his or her living with the coherences of the continuous realization of his or her living.
The observer always find him or herself immersed in situations in which the course of the natural drift of the locality in which he or she realizes its living may change unexpectedly through happenings of the medium that occurred outside the extension of his or her ecological niche, and that he or she could not have predicted, or as a result of his or her reflections that always expand in an intrinsically new manner his or her dynamic ecological niche as this arises continuously anew with the realization of his or her living as a molecular autopoietic system. Therefore, the niche as it appears necessary for the observer as an aspect of the changing dynamics of a medium that he or she does not see but imagines to be there, is always open to bring forth unexpected events that are never chaotic although they may appear initially to be so. And it is part of the art of observing of the observer to discover the sensory–operational–relational domains in which the structural coherences of those apparently chaotic processes become apparent. The same happens with the new domains in which the observers enter in their acts of reflection. Namely, the cosmos that we live arises as a historically coherent deterministic dynamic architecture, as we describe and explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living as dynamic biological–cultural historical beings operating as local dynamic architectures in the architecture of the cosmos that we generate.
Part 3: Epistemological Reflections
3.1 Nature of Reality
When in our present culture we speak of reality or of something being real, we mean that we think that that of which we are talking occurs with independency of what we do as we distinguish it. As such the notion of reality is an explanatory notion (Maturana 1990) proposed in some moment of our human history to give fundament to the coherences of our living according to the spontaneity of our feelings and sensations. No doubt it has been a very powerful explanatory invention that has constituted an ordering epistemological grounding for all that we do while our fundamental philosophical question has been asking for the essence of things, the nature of the being and the unity of all as it exists independently of what we do. Such fundamental attitude has not interfered with our asking about how happens all that happens, inventing metaphysical explanatory notions to go on when the questions turned about ourselves and we could not answer them beyond referring to our inner feelings and body sensoriality. It was only when the historical moment came, by the middle of the twentieth century, about 1965, in which we as humanity could answer reflexive questions such as how does our nervous system operates in the process of perception that was possible to begin to answer that question in the domain of our operation as molecular autopoietic systems: that is, in domain of the realization of our living. It was only in that moment that it was possible to understand that the fact that we living beings do not distinguish in our experience between what we call in our daily living perception and illusion is not a limitation or a failure of the operation of our nervous system because it operates as a closed network of relations of neuronal activities that are in themselves semantically independent of the ecological niche and of the medium in which the organism exists. Perception and illusion are distinctions that we languaging human beings make as we operate as observers when we compare two experiences that we have lived as valid: we speak of perception when we use two experiences that we live as valid and which we consider not contradictory to confirm each other; and we speak of illusion when we have two experiences that we live as valid but we feel are contradictory, and we chose one of which we do not want to doubt as an argument to invalidate the other. The notions of perception and illusion refer to the way we live our experiences as we live our living not to the nature of the experiences themselves. If we accept what we have just said is the case, then we cannot but become aware that the historically fundamental philosophical questions about the ‘‘being in itself or about the essence of that which we distinguish’’ are questions that cannot be answered. And if we accept this, then we have to change those questions for questions of the form: ‘‘what do I do when I make a distinction such that appears that which appears when I do what I did?’’ These are questions about what we do, questions that as such can always be answered, and not questions about some transcendental entity about which we cannot speak (Maturana 2007).
Accordingly, we live trusting in that whenever we repeat what we do together with the circumstances in which we do it we obtain the same result, and we live trusting in that when this does not happen it is because we have not repeated what we did. In our daily living we call reality all the sensory, operational and relational regularities that we normally use as languaging reflective human beings to describe our effective doings in the realization of our living. Problems arise in our daily living in relation to our notion of reality only when our doings do not do what we expect that they should do, or when we do not trust each other or ourselves in relation to what we are doing, or when someone proposes an explanatory notion of transcendental metaphysical nature because it is not supported by the coherences of our daily living.
3.2 Nature of Our Conceptual Difficulties
Some conceptual difficulties arise when in the attempt to understand the nature of our existence in the molecular domain we become reductionists and immerse ourselves in the unexpected dimensions of quantum physics trying to find there the operational–relational constitution of the molecular, sub-molecular and meta-molecular elements involved in the realization of our molecular autopoiesis that would allow us to explain our operation as self-conscious human beings. However, what happens with our molecular components at the sub-molecular, subatomic and at the quantum level of their own composition is an intrinsic aspect of their constitution as molecules, and is present in all that happens with them in all the circumstances of their operations as components of our dynamic architecture, and do not determine the nature of what happens in the relational space in which operate as totalities the entities that they compose: the components of a composite entity do not determine the operation of the entities of which they are components in the relational space in which these operate as totalities.
What happens with the components of a composite unity, as they exist integrating it as a totality? How do they participate in the realization and the transformation of a dynamic totality? What an observer sees as he or she happens to distinguish a composite unity as it conserves its class identity while it interacts in its niche, is that this occurs only as long all the changes that happen to the components and the relations between them occur in such a way that the class identity of the composite unity is conserved, regardless of how those changes are arising or occur. That is, it does not matter whether the changes were the result the interactions of the organism as it operates as a totality, or of some internal process such as molecular radiations, or of the happening of some subatomic quantum mechanical interaction that are aspects of the dynamic molecular architecture of the realization of the operation of the process in which the components of the composite unity happen to be involved at any instant. Therefore, an organism stays living as an organism of a particular kind only while all that happens in it and to it in the flow of its interactions results in that all the changes that occur in its components and in their relations happen in the continuous conservation of its particular class identity as a particular kind of molecular autopoietic system.
What is usually not easy to visualize is the abstract-concrete double nature of any entity that we distinguish in any domain in which we make our distinctions. Nothing exists in and by itself; something exists pertaining to a relational dynamics of conservation in which what is conserved is conserved together with the circumstances in which it is conserved, and both last together as a dynamic totality that arises when it is distinguished by an observer as a dynamic ecological entity–niche unity relation. And like everything that we conceive and name, that dynamic ecological entity–niche unity relation has an abstract-concrete double nature in the sensory–operational–relational domains of distinctions that we generate in our living as languaging-reflective human beings that operate as observers. As we languaging and reflective human beings make a distinction, we do it in the midst of some conscious or unconscious network of conversations, and whatever we distinguish arises with some explicit or implicit meaning as an abstract entity that has sense in the sensory–operational–relational matrix entailed in the flow of the network of conversation in which it belongs. At the same time whatever operation we perform in the act of distinction, occurs in the moment that it happens as a concrete molecular happening of the realization of our molecular autopoiesis.
Living beings that do not exist as languaging beings operate in the same way that we do, and they do all that they do in the space of the concrete molecular dynamics of the realization of the molecular processes of their molecular autopoiesis; but as sensory–operational–relational beings their encounters in their dynamic ecological niche also involves configurations of sensory–operational–relations that we would have to call abstract relational dimensions. We as human observers may ascribe meaning to those operations according to the meaning that they evoke in the semantic domain of our living, but they do not occur in a semantic domain as an aspect of the realization of the living of those organisms to the extent that they do not operate as languaging beings.
Things arise in the domain of the realization of our living as human languaging beings with some explicit or implicit meaning as abstractions of some particular configuration of sensory–operational–relations that realize them as the concrete sensory–operational–relational entities that occur in the domain in which we manipulate them while we do what we do. No doubt that we human beings refer to the entities that we distinguish in what we do as concrete or abstract operational entities, according to the different configurations of sensory–relational–operational feelings that we live while we do what we do in the different sensory–operational–relational domains in which we realize our molecular autopoiesis in the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that we integrate as we operate as totalities.
This abstract-concrete double nature of what ever we distinguish is frequently difficult to evoke in our attempt to speak of the dynamic ecological entity–niche unity that arises as an abstract-concrete sensory–operational–relational dynamics in our domain of existence as totalities in the process of talking about the concreteness of the realization of our molecular autopoiesis. Thus, for example, when an observer of a not human organism speaks of its dynamic ecological niche, he or she is referring to that part of the ‘‘medium’’ that he/she sees that contains it, and in which he or she sees that its interactions result in that its particular manner of living is continuously and recursively conserved through the continuous realization of its molecular autopoiesis. And as the observer makes the distinction what he or she brings forth is a totality in which the abstract and the concrete may appear only as an a–posterior recursive reflexive distinction according to what he or she does with it in his or her doings or reflections. Thus, when we talk about the niche of an organism we are not referring to some particular collection of molecules, but we are referring to our abstraction of some particular configuration of molecular processes in the dynamic encounter of an organism with that part of the medium in which it realizes its living that arises continuously anew while it lives.
Furthermore it is not fully apparent that when the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity disintegrates, what vanishes is the dynamic totality constituted by the organism and its dynamic ecological niche. And it is not fully apparent either that the area of the organism at which its interactions with medium result in the arising and conservation of its dynamic ecological organism–niche unity constitutes the abstract sensory–operational–relational surface of the organism that arises into existence as it appears in concreteness when the observer distinguishes its operation as such. Yet, no matter how it appears to us as observers in our operational domain as totalities, and no matter what we may think about the nature of what happens in the interactions of the molecular entities that we distinguish, if we do not see the unitary intrinsic double abstract-concrete nature of all the entities that we may distinguish in our operation as observers, we shall be unconsciously inclined to forcibly separate them as we attempt to understand the worlds that we generate as we explain our living with our living: for example, when we treat ourselves as composed of body and mind arise two different kinds of entities existing in contradictory domains as if we were composed by them.
In our daily living we use notions of abstractness or concreteness according to what sensory dimensions, or what sensory effectors configurations of our living guide what we do, the same happens with other organisms although we are not always aware as we observe them of the sensory operational domain in which they operate at any particular moment. But we are aware that they do not operate in the body-soul or body and mind fragmentation in which we frequently do; they operate in that sense as unities guided by their sensory effectors configurations as they arise in the conservation of their well-being in the realization of their living. What our human living in networks of conversations and reflections adds is sensory–operational–relational domains that are only possible to languaging living beings and which constitutes our multidimensional cultural domain in which we exist as biological–cultural beings.
3.3 Nature of the Unity Organism-Nervous System
We all living beings resemble each other as molecular autopoietic systems, and to that extent we all living beings realize our living in dynamic ecological organism–niche unities that have similar architectural configurations that an observer sees as giving rise to similar sensory–operational–relational kinds of inner feelings, doings and emotions. We all vertebrates realize our behaviors with similar nervous systems (the vertebrate nervous system) that operate generating sensory-effectors correlations at our sensory-effectors surfaces as vertebrates in our interactions with our dynamic ecological niche. Moreover, we all human beings realize all our different relational behaviors regardless of what an observer may think about their concrete or abstract nature as operational domains with nervous systems that operate in similar manners as they generate our sensory-effectors correlations in our sensory-effectors surfaces in our recursive interactions with our abstract-concrete dual nature in our dynamic ecological niche.
As we have said above, an organism as a composite entity exists in two not intersecting sensory–operational–relational domains, the domain of the operation of its components and the domain in which it operates as a totality. In the domain in which the organism operates as a totality it operates with characteristics, features or properties that are different from the characteristics, features or properties of its components even though it interacts through them. For example, when we say ‘‘Peter, there is your apple’’ we are speaking and interacting in a cultural sensorial–operational–relational domain in which we operate as totalities in our abstract nature, which is where abstract entities such as distinctions and sentences make sense. However, our encounter as totalities with the entity that we called apple occurs through our concrete nature as molecular autopoietic beings through the encounter of light photons, reflected by the surface of the apple, with the photosensitive molecules of the photoreceptors of our retina as they operate with properties and features that pertain to their existence as molecules that operate as components of our organism. In our operation as totalities in our relational space as persons, we do not encounter photons, molecules or electrons, we encounter persons and apples, and in our operation as molecular entities through our sensory receptors we do not encounter persons or apples, we encounter photons, molecules, electrons…
In general terms, the fact that a composite entity exists in two not intersecting sensorial–operational–relational domains results in that an observer cannot deduce what happens with a composite entity as it operates as a totality, from what may be happening with the operation of its components. And similarly, an observer cannot deduce what may be happening with the components of a composite entity from what he or she happens to see that is occurring in the domain in which the composite unity interacts as a totality.
What an observer may see in the actual operation of a dynamic composite entity are two kinds of processes: one, the concreteness of the transformation of the composite entity as a changing dynamic architecture, in a historical process that appears to him or her as occurring in cero time as a continuous changing present; and two, the abstract dynamics of his or her observing as a continuous historical reflection about what he or she thinks that may be the meaning of what is happening, inventing semantic relations that would connect for him or her the before and after of his or her memories of what has been occurring in the observed architectural transformation. As a synthesis of these two processes, the observer may say in his or her reflections that what ever happens with the components of a composite entity in its architectural features results in changes in the domain in which the composite entity operates as a concrete totality, and that any consideration that he or she as an observer can make about the meaning of what is occurring pertains to the abstract domain of his or her dual existence as an observing human being. At the same time, if the observed composite entity is an organism operating in its dynamic ecological niche, the observer will see in the flow of his or her own historical reflections that some of the components of the organism operate in their interactions constituting the abstract domain of its sensory–operational–relational surface participating in the realization of the sensory-effectors correlations that realize its behavior as a totality.
Every entity arises as it is brought into existence by the operation of distinction of an observer as an entity that operates at the same time in two distinct sensory–operational–relational domains, abstract and concrete, according to what the observer does with it. We human beings as we operate as observers also arise in our self-distinction as languaging reflective human persons finding that nothing exists by itself, and that everything exists only as it arises through our operation of distinction as observers operating as singular entities in this dual abstract and concrete existence according to what we do in our existence as observers (Maturana 2005). This dual existence of all the entities that we distinguish as we operate as observers is what permits us human beings to do all that we do as we reflect on what we do and manipulate our doings. And it is in this manner that the dynamic ecological niche of an organism can have as many abstract and concrete dimensions according to the manner of living that it happens to live, alone or in communities, in the actual realization of its molecular autopoiesis.
In these circumstances we as observers can see that an organism in its operation as a totality operates as if it were itself in its operation as such what we call a nervous system in multi-cellular animals. We biologists usually call nervous system a network of interacting cells (neuronal elements) that trigger in each other changes of relations of activity that result in the organism in changes of relations of activities in its sensory and effectors surfaces (Maturana 1974) that result in its different behaviors in its interactions in its dynamic ecological niche. What we have said so far in this section shows that the whole organism operates as a nervous system regardless of whether its architectural realization is unicellular or multi-cellular: the manner of operation of the components of an organism that we call nervous system can be realized through the dynamic relations of the molecules that compose a unicellular organism or through the molecular and cellular components that realize a multi-cellular one.
All this occurs in an organism as it operates as a totality in which all the elements that compose it participate as elements of a multidimensional sensory-effectors system that coordinates its sensory–operational–relational dynamics around the realization of some sensory configurations that guide moment after moment the natural drift of its architectural transformation as it interacts in its dynamic ecological niche, generating a course that results in the realization of its molecular autopoiesis in the dynamic ecological niche in which its living is conserved, or generating a course that results in that its living is not conserved and it dies as its molecular autopoiesis vanishes. Furthermore, all this occurs in the natural drift of a spontaneous dynamics of molecular self-assembly without the paticipation of any organizing principle, genetic plan, information processing or of purposeful hidden metaphysical inspiration. As we just said above, as the molecular dynamics of a unicellular organism occurs in the continuous realization of its molecular autopoiesis, it realizes the sensory–operational–relational dynamic of coordination of the flow of the interactions of the unicellular organism with its always newly arising dynamic ecological niche operating as a molecular nervous system. And as this occurs the actual dynamic realization of the molecular autopoiesis of the unicellular organism operates as its dynamic sensory–operational–relational surface guiding the course of its interactions in its dynamic ecological niche. When in the evolutionary drift arise multi-cellular organisms, the nervous system appears as a discrete multi-cellular system of sensory effectors coordinations in the flow of their encounters in their always newly arising dynamic ecological niche, but each organism as a whole continues operating as an organism–nervous system sensory–operational–relational totality. It is this integrated organism-nervous system manner of living that makes possible that an organism may live recursive internal co-ordinations of co-ordinations of abstract processes that give rise in it to new kinds of relational abstract behaviors in its dynamic ecological niche that an observer may call feelings, emotions and actions of abstract relational nature in the organisms that he or she observes.
3.4 Nature of the Act of Knowing
When we reflective human beings say in our cultural present that a person knows how to do something or has knowledge about some particular thing, we are claiming that that person has the operational capacities to behave adequately in the circumstances in which we observe her, according to what we think that is adequate behavior for those circumstances. And we do so because we think that that person behaves in a manner that satisfies some criterion of validation that we put in our observing as we observe her. So we speak of knowledge as something that we say that a person has when we think that she is acting properly as we observe her. Knowledge is an interpersonal relation. What we do not always realize or are aware of is that what is central in any claim of cognition is the criterion of validation that we consciously or unconsciously use to claim that some thing is true or false, valid or not valid, good or not good, even though we frequently ask ‘‘how do you know that that is so?’’ Nothing is true or false, valid or not valid, good or not good in itself … all depends on the criterion of validation used to accept one or the other in any case. But if nothing is true or false, good or bad, adequate or inadequate of its own nature, and if there is not any universal or absolute criterion to decide for one or the other of the alternatives, how do we harmonize what we do? How is it that we can collaborate, or agree or disagree in a manner that results meaningful for the participants?
Collaboration, agreement and disagreement are possible only if we have some common basic criteria that define a space in which we may desire to be together in the pleasure of doing so. When that happens the participants generate a common dynamic ecological niche that intersects in some measure with their individual dynamic ecological niches. Indeed the only way in which different persons may generate a domain of mutual understanding in doings, feelings, desires and criteria of validation for some common enterprise, is through living together in the desire of living together in the generation of a common dynamic ecological niche in which they understands each other because they listen to each other in mutual respect, conserving their autonomy precisely because they have lived together transforming together in mutual and self-respect in close and distant coherent doings (collaboration) in a common project. This is valid for all organisms in their different domains of existence, what is peculiar to us human beings is that we live as languaging living beings in a sensory, operational and relational domain in which we can reflect on what we do and consciously chose what we do or not do.
3.5 Nature of Self-Consciousness
When we speak of self-consciousness we usually speak as if we were referring to some property or particular manner of operating of the nervous system. We think differently, we think that self-consciousness is a manner of relating, a manner of operating in the recursive dynamics of our living in languaging in which we act or operate distinguishing ourselves distinguishing ourselves in what we do. As we operate in the flow of our living together objects arise, concrete and abstract objects that we can distinguish and handle as different aspects of our dynamic ecological niche. We begin as children to learn to exist in self-consciousness, when our mothers ask us when we are little: ‘‘Peter, do you see what you are doing?’’ That reflexive question creates the space of self-distinctions, and initiates the sensory–operational–relational dynamics of conscious and unconscious self-distinctions as a relational space that can occur only in the recursive operation of our living together in languaging that in our daily living we call self-consciousness.
The usual difficulty for understanding and accepting that self-consciousness occurs as a sensory–operational–relational interpersonal dynamics, and not as a property of the mind or as a manner of operation of the nervous system, is fundamentally a reductionist attitude that may sometimes orient us biologists to think in terms of functions, that are relational notions that obscure what happens, and not in terms of processes that are descriptors of how arises what we do or what we distinguish.
3.6 Nature of Our Sensory, Operational and Relational Existence
We operate as dynamically closed molecular autopoietic systems. Our nervous system as a closed network of neuronal elements operates as a closed network of changes of relations of activities that generate a closed dynamics of sensory-effectors correlations in our body-hood. As we observe ourselves operating as organisms, that is, as totalities, in the ecological organism-niche unity that we integrate as every living being does, we see us as we see every other organism operating immersed in an external world. Yet, when we reflect as observing reflecting human beings about how does occur our cognitive living, we find that we cannot speak about an external world (reality) that we suppose to exist with independency from what we do as we attempt to say something about it. Furthermore, we find as well that whatever we live and experience as an external world, occurs in the intimacy of our inner feelings as a multidimensional matrix of sensory effectors correlations which in our operation in the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity that we integrate, and that whatever we live in our coexistence with other human beings also occurs in the dynamics of the closed network of changes of relations of activities of our nervous system that generates the closed dynamics of sensory-effectors correlations in our body-hood.
As we cannot speak about anything that we may imagine as existing with independency of what we do, the sensations that we feel as we touch, see, smell, taste or hear are not sensations about ourselves or about an outside world. They are sensations that acquire one character or another in the sensory effectors configuration that goes with the ongoing behavior of the organism in the particular circumstance of its ontogeny that it is living in the dynamic ecological organism-niche unity that it integrates at that moment. If I touch something my touching does not reveal the thing touched as a thing in itself, if I see something my seeing does not reveal the seen something as a seen entity in itself, but the thing, the object seen, arises in the configuration of sensations that go with the doings that bring forth the object or things as aspects of my doings in the domain of my inner sensoriality of doings that I am living. As we experience seeing, touching, hearing thinking … that which we distinguish appears to us as existing independently of what we do as we distinguish it, and we attempt to refer to it as if it were having existence in itself in a transcendental domain different from that of our existence as molecular autopoietic systems. Yes, anything that we distinguish as we operate as observers appears to occur in a sensory, relational and operational domain that transcends the molecular materiality that supports it in our distinction, but it is not in itself, it arises into existence with our distinction of it. The same happens with us, we are not the molecules that make us possible as we transcend them as we exist in a sensory, operational and relational domain, as all living systems do, not in the molecularity that makes us possible: we exist in a sensory, operational and relational domain in which we recursively coordinate our inner feelings, doings and emotionings as languaging (Maturana 2005, Maturana and Dávila 2008) and reflexive human beings that can choose what they do, and in which we find ourselves as totalities in an operational–relational domain that involves molecules, relations and reflections.
We as languaging reflecting human beings exist in a relational operational domain in which we arise as living human beings in our self-distinction as the sensory–operational–relational dynamics Homo sapiens–amans amans (Maturana and Dávila 2008). Every entity, thing or process that we distinguish is the verb or dynamic of doings that the noun with which we name it obscures. At the same time everything, entity or process that we distinguish exists as a dynamic ecological thing or process in the entity–niche unity in which it occurs as it arises in our distinction in the domain of our realization as molecular autopoietic systems. Nothing exists by itself, but at the same time everything exists with its domain of existence as the dynamic ecological entity-niche unity that arises with the operation of distinction with which we distinguish it. If some day human beings become extinct, the cosmos will vanish, and a new one may arise if some new kind of reflective being appears and explains the coherences of its existence with the coherences of its existence.
3.7 Nature of the Ontogenic Phenotype
The process of embryonic transformation happens as a dynamic architecture that occurs in an intimate continuously changing present with no reference to what may be happening moment after moment in the relational space of the growing organism as we mentioned before, or with what the observer may want to evoke as he or she uses reflective notions of coding or information as if they were revealing the depth of his or her understanding of what is indeed happening. The use of these notions by the observer obscures his or her possibility of establishing and understanding the historical correlation of what may be happening at any instant in the dynamic architecture of the organism with what occurs in the present of its interactions as it operates as a totality in its dynamic ecological niche. The notion of genetic coding has become a metaphysical temptation to reduce molecular interactions in the biological processes to communications and transmission of information as if these were actual molecular happenings in the structural dynamics of the growing embryo. What we have to understand is how in the long evolutionary history of the uninterrupted continuous conservation of the realization of the molecular autopoiesis of the living systems, the dynamic architecture of the different lineages that have arisen in the natural evolutionary drift, have become different forms of realizing the molecular autopoiesis of the organisms as different manners of living. What we see as different lineages of manners of living in the different manners of the realization of the molecular autopoiesis, are different dynamic architectures that can be repeated from one generation to the next including some variations, through the systemic reproduction of some different basic architectural configuration under the form of different initial dynamic ecological organism-niche unities. We have talked about those basic initial conditions as we talk about the dynamic architecture of the ecological stem-cell-niche unity without fully describing them, but we have shown that we think that they must have been those of the basic initial architectural configuration of the first primeval ecological molecular–autopoietic–bacterium–niche unity that underwent a reproductive division. That first step initiated a lineage of ecological molecular autopoietic stem–cells–niche unities and the phylogenetic natural drift of transformation around the conservation of that initial condition. The process of the phylogenetic natural drift of a lineage of reproducing molecular autopoietic systems happens as a historical process of transformation of the dynamic architecture of an ecological stem–cell–niche unity and necessarily occurs as a historical lineal process open to recursive increasing complexity around what is conserved. In living systems what is conserved is the cyclical dynamics of molecular autopoiesis and reproduction. Those of our ancestors that in different moments of our history faced the need and desire of explaining the enormous diversity of manners of living, all effective in their respective undisturbed medium did what they could using their own manners of living and thinking to generate explanations that would satisfy them for some time. Yet, it has not been until the last three hundred years that ideas could be developed with the possibility of understanding the spontaneous character of the natural process in a way that has become possible to visualize the dynamic architecture of the ecological organism-niche unity, and the spontaneous nature of the evolutionary transformation and diversification of lineages of living systems through natural drift in an uninterrupted dynamic of conservation through systemic reproduction of a dynamic architecture of spontaneous self-assembling molecular autopoietic systems.
In these circumstances, the first step in understanding biological evolution through natural drift, without resorting to the notion of coding of information, is to understand that in the process of systemic reproduction what is reproduced is an ecological organism-niche unity under the form of a basic self-assembling dynamic architecture such that variations in its manner of realization may be conserved. Therefore, when there is sequential systemic reproduction two kinds of things may happen, namely, the conservation of a lineage or the arising of a new lineage in a dynamic of conservation of adaptation in a changing medium. When systemic reproduction stops happening, there is lineage extinction.
The fundamental result of evolutionary natural drift under the systemic reproduction of the dynamic ecological organism-unity is that every living system while it lives exists in structural, sensory, operational and relational coherences with the cosmic locality that is the medium in which it occurs.
Part 4: Metaphysical Temptations
4.1 Existence Beyond Existing
Metaphysical notions are explanatory propositions and reflections with which we attempt to refer to experiences that we live with the feeling that their source lies outside the realm of our sensory–operational–relational handling of our doings in the different domains of our daily living. As such they are explanatory inventions that, when we accept them, and depending on their particular nature, can give transcendental order and meaning to our living, or conserve a mystery instead of an understanding that illuminates our daily living with love in an ethical social existence.
Metaphysical notions distract us from the possibility of understanding how do we exist and operate as living beings in our daily living.
4.2 Explanatory Principles
We all individual human beings exist as the present members of some lineage that arose in the conservation via systemic reproduction of a manner of living that entails sexual intimate encounters that must occur as manners of behavior in which we approach each other in the pleasure of mutual body acceptance. As a result of this we human beings are the present of a history of natural drift of changing together congruently in the evolutionary drift of our abstract and concrete behaviors, so that we presently all live as sexual animals realizing and conserving interrelated dynamic ecological organism–niche unities in which that manner of living can occur. In systemic reproduction what is conserved from one generation to the next is the structural dynamics of an ecological ontogenic phenotype in the form of an ecological organism–niche unity as a manner of living (Maturana and Mpodozis 2000). So sequences of events of systemic reproduction of molecular autopoietic systems constitute lineages of ontogenic phenotypes or manners of living that can be conserved ad infinitum. At the same time, since what is conserved from one generation to the next in systemic reproduction is the ontogenic realization of an ecological organism-niche unity through the continuous conservation of the realization of the molecular autopoiesis in it, regardless of the manner in which this happens, the systemic reproduction of the ecological organism-niche unity is a process continuously open to giving rise to new lineages through the conservation of any ontogenic variation that does not interferes with the realization of the molecular autopoiesis in it. Living systems live sliding in the realization of their molecular autopoiesis in the ecological organism-niche unity that they integrate, regardless of whatever may happen in their continuously changing dynamic structure, following the tangent in their encounter with the medium in which their molecular autopoiesis is conserved, or they die. As a result of this, since all ontogenic variation in the ecological organism-niche unity that do not interfere with the realization of the molecular autopoiesis of the organism in it, are conserved in systemic in reproduction, systemic reproduction becomes the fundament for the conservation and diversification of lineages in evolutionary drift. Conservation of adaptation in the conservation of the molecular autopoiesis in the realization of living in a dynamic ecological organism-niche unity in a continuously changing medium, and the conservation of ontogenic variation in the manner of the realization of living through systemic reproduction, constitute the fundaments of the evolution of living systems in the dynamic of natural drift as a continuous process of open ended conservation and diversification of lineages of manners of living. The relation of sensory, operational and relational coherence with the medium to which we usually refer when we speak of adaptation or of becoming adapted is misleading and becomes an explanatory principle because in the realization of living the relation of adaptation is not a variable: an organism is alive only while it is in sensory, operational and relational coherence with the medium in which it occurs in the ecological organism-niche that it integrates.
The understanding of these basic sensory, operational and relational conditions of the existence of living beings in general, and of us human beings in particular, namely, systemic reproduction, conservation of adaptation and relational-abstract as well as concrete double existence, show that we as living beings live in dynamic ecological organism–niche unities that intersect in numerous forms of multi-dimensional networks of abstract-concrete processes that constitute groups of living beings in which we, as observers can only distinguish operational boundaries that arise as a consequences of what they do in the flow of their interactions in their continuously changing present. In our daily living, when we observe a person operating adequately in the circumstance in which we observe her, may say that she knows what she is doing. And as we do so, the expression ‘‘she knows what she is doing’’ means that we think that what she does is adequate according to what we think is adequate doing for the circumstances in which we observe her. But what ever an organism does at any moment is the only thing that it can do in the present of its sensory, operational and relational ‘‘now’’ in the course of the natural drift of the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that it integrates.
What is interesting in the nature of the natural drift of the dynamic ecological organism–niche unities, regardless of their diversity and of their complexity, is that it occurs as a spontaneous dynamics that generates what we see as sensory, operational and relational harmony, and not as disorder. We marvel at the beauty and harmony in nature, as if the different processes that constitute the continuous operation of the different dynamic ecological organism–niche unity had been specially designed with the intent that they should operate coherently regardless of their nature, speaking some times of synchrony. And in our awe in front of the mystery of how could it have happened, thinking that it is impossible that such harmony could have arisen spontaneously in the haphazard of a probabilistic world, we want to tranquilize our souls inventing some metaphysical explanatory principles that could violate structural determinism. That is a great meta-physical temptation, yet it is not necessary to fall in it.
The operation of the dynamic ecological niche–unity shows that the continuously arising and conservation of the order and the harmony in all biological processes happens as a result of the conservation of the dynamic structural coupling of all the processes involved in the ontogenetic and evolutionary natural drift of the dynamic architecture of the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity in which all organisms exists guided by their sensoriality following the path of the realization of their different manners of living in an independently changing medium … or die. The metaphysical notions that are proposed are presented under the form special properties that would be intrinsic to the biological processes such as ‘‘intentionality’’, ‘‘teleological dynamics’’, ‘‘finality’’ or genetic teleonomy in the epigenetic and evolutionary arising and conservation of lineages. All these metaphysical notions are proposed under a deep inner feeling that the complexity of biological processes is so great that cannot be the simple spontaneous result of some ontogenetic and phylogenic dynamics that are not guided by some end oriented purposeful organizational principle.
We as scientific usually say that we live in a probabilistic universe, because we cannot predict or compute what will happen, and that we can only speak of chance and probabilities. We think that in that statement there is an epistemological confusion. In a prediction what we do is to make a computation operating with some configuration of operational coherences that we think is an abstraction of the operational coherences that define what happens in a particular natural domain. Therefore, if we cannot make such abstraction in the particular domain of our interest, we cannot compute what will happen in it. But, if we know the total operational coherences of what happens in any domain and we trust the basic structural determinism of the cosmos that arises through our living as molecular autopoietic systems as we explain the coherences of our living with the coherences of our living, then, although we cannot claim to make an abstraction of the coherences of the fundamental processes that constitute it, we can always make a computation of the probability of the possible results of our operations in it according to the coherences that we can observe at present. A computation is a cognitive operation that extrapolates the consequences of generating a system of logical transformations in some particular operational domain around the conservation of some basic configuration of relations in it that we assume are intrinsic to it. A computation, therefore, only tells us what would happen in that system if what we assume to be the case were the case, so it only tells us something about what we think that we know, but it tells us nothing about the ‘‘intrinsic nature of the operational coherences’’ of the domain in which we claim that happens what we compute. We cannot compute what will happen in the course of our living, but we know that the course that our living will follow will be determined, moment after moment, by what we conserve through our sensory–operational interactions in our dynamic ecological niche.
4.5 Progress and Intentionality
In our cultural present we speak of progress to refer to a transformation whose outcome seems to us to constitute something better than what was before in some particular situation according to some personal scale of goodness or values. Yet we usually speak as if the notion of progress connoted changes that are valuable by themselves, which is not the case. The notion of progress however is a notion that applies only to what we do in the cultural dimensions of our ecological niche, and does not apply to the spontaneous nature of the cosmos that arises as we explain the coherences of our living with the coherences of our living in the domain of the realization of our molecular autopoiesis in the flow of our biological natural evolutionary drift. Something similar happens with the notion of intentionality that is also a notion that applies only in our reflections as we live as biological–cultural beings and not in the ecological dynamics of the organism–niche unity that we integrate as molecular autopoietic systems. It happens though that the notions of progress and intentionality may easily become metaphysical temptations in the moment in which we stop trusting structural determinism, and we confuse what we think that a system is doing in its relational as it operates as a totality, with the processes of its internal dynamics that generate it as a that totality. For example, we see in the biological evolution what it seems to us an increase of complexity and harmony in the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity in the history of the members of a lineage, occurring in a manner that seems impossible to understand without the participation of some directive mechanism, and we resort to some metaphysical notions to calm our anxiety. If we do not see that the natural drift of living systems occurs as a historical process in which the organisms conserve through systemic reproduction their relation of operational coherences with the changing part of the medium in which they exists, we cannot understand the way natural drift operates. And we cannot do so because we cannot see that the process of natural drift necessarily results either in the stabilization, the simplification or the increase in complexity of the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that the organisms integrate along the conservation and diversification of their lineages, through the operation of their sensoriality that all the time guides the conservation of their living in the flow of the contingency of the encounter of the changing organisms with the changing medium in which they realize their ecological niches, or they die. Whatever happens in the course of the evolutionary natural drift, whether it seems to us that it is an increase or decrease in the complexity or harmony or beauty of the dynamic ecological organism-niche unities or of the diversification of the physiological–anatomical complexity in the arising of new lineages, all occurs without the action of any ordering force as a spontaneous changing dynamic architecture while the realization of the molecular autopoiesis of the reproducing organisms are conserved in systemic reproduction. So, everything that happens in the lives of living beings is the spontaneous result of the historical dynamics of their structural drift as this occurs as the continuous and recursive transformation of the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that they integrate and realize guided by the operation of their sensoriality in the conservation of their circumstantial well-being in the realization of their molecular autopoiesis.
We generally talk about information in our cultural present as if it were some kind of operational entity that can be handled, contained, modified and transferred from one person to another in a process that is generally called communication. Moreover we generally use the notion of information as an operational or as an explanatory principle in a relational dynamics when we speak of transmitting information as if a receptor of that transmission were to receive something from the transmitter that would expand his or her knowledge or understanding in some particular situation. As we think in this way we obscure the fact that the notion of transmission of information, as it was proposed in the mathematical theory of communications, refers to interactions in which the state of uncertainty of an observer is reduced when he or she receives some signal that permits him or her to associate or correlate alternatives occurring in different separate domains, that are otherwise isomorphic in that respect. If I do not understand this, I may say that the genome of a zygote contains the information needed for the embryo to grow and transform in a way specified by that information in the process of becoming an adult. Yet, the growth of the embryo occurs as a dynamic architecture of local processes of spontaneous assembly guided at every instant by the assemblies already realized in a process that occurs without plans or the need of imagining an organizing notion such as information. We do not know at present the initial dynamic architecture of the embryo, but we know that this initial dynamic architecture must be such that it may initiate a series of structural transformation that result in a process of continuous transformation of the dynamic architecture of the ecological niche in which it is immersed such that its relational form becomes the form of the adult of the species to which it belongs.
4.7 Genes, Genetic Determination
The notions of gene, heredity and of genetic determination are very interesting notions because they have been both very inspiring in biological research and understanding biological evolution, but at the same time have become great explanatory reductionist temptations. The notion of gene is used as a molecular dynamic evocation of developmental and relational processes as well as a molecular visualization of the dynamic molecular architecture of the processes of the synthesis of different kinds of molecules and of the dynamic of coordination of their synthesis … but their conceptual use in those terms as explanatory principles has frequently obscured the understanding of those very same processes. For example, a historical process such as embryonic growth occurs in two not intersecting domains: (a) the domain of the actual processes that takes place in the structural internal dynamics of the growing embryo as a dynamic architecture, and (b) the relational domain in which the growing organism interacts as a totality in the medium that is arising with it through the different features of its body generated in it through the process of its growth as its interactional and relational surfaces. These two domains do not intersect, and one cannot deduce from what happens in the internal dynamics of the growing organism what will happen with it as it interacts as a totality in the in the medium that is arising with it operating with its own independent structural dynamics; yet we biologists says that the genes codify the information needed for the realization of the molecular dynamics that gives rise to the organism through its growth. ‘‘How did the process of growth occurred?’’… ‘‘Well …the genes carried the information for those processes to occur’’. ‘‘How does an organism interact with an independent medium and stays alive?’’ ‘‘Following through the operation of its sensoriality the tangent path in which it conserves its wellbeing’’.
4.8 Molecular Manipulations
A living being exists as a dynamic self-assembling molecular architecture that realizes itself as a molecular autopoietic system. As such a living system exists as a closed network of cyclical molecular processes of molecular productions that produces itself as a singular dynamic architecture in continuous structural transformation around the conservation of its molecular autopoiesis. The different processes of molecular productions that compose the closed network of cyclical molecular processes of molecular productions that a living system is, constitutes a coherent and harmonious systems by means of free or fix molecules that trigger, enhance or inhibit their respective activities integrating them as a totality. In their long evolutionary drift living systems, since their origin some 3800 million year sago, have constituted a biosphere integrated by millions of different kinds of living systems that modulate each other’s living and death through a continuous flow of molecules that results harmonious while the diversity of living systems is conserved. We human beings with our knowledge and technological abilities are a curious danger for the biosphere and ourselves if we fall in the metaphysical temptation of the desire of control of the course of our living and of the natural drift of the biosphere.
Part 5: Ethical Reflections
The validity of all that we say in this essay stands on the sensory–operational–relational coherences of our realization as molecular autopoietic systems in our daily living as human beings that operate as reflective persons doing all that we do and can do in our cultural present. And we do all that we do as we move in our daily living from home chores to science, technology, art, philosophy, child bearing or poetry as different manners of realizing our molecular autopoiesis alone as individuals or with others as social beings. And we have done all our reflections without using any metaphysical explanatory principle, operating only in the domain of our sensory, operational and relational coherences. The different human experiences that we live are different aspects of the diversity of manners of living that we generate or may generate as we realize our individual living in the social and not social dynamic ecological niches that appear with us as we happen being molecular autopoietic systems. We may call the different kinds of experiences that we live, spiritual, material, aesthetic, ethical, moral, demoniacal, good, bad, cosmic, local … and it does not matter what experiences we live, what matters is what we do with them as reflective loving human beings Homo sapiens–amans amans, in the different dynamic ecological organism–niche unities that we happen to generate at every instant, alone or with others in the realization of our living.
In other words, what matters is our understanding of what we are doing and of what we wish to conserve in the course of living the different worlds that we generate as we live. We human beings are the only self-conscious loving ethical living being that we so far know on the earth, and may be that we will know in the cosmos that we generate as we explain the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living with the sensory–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living in the individual or collective dynamic ecological organisms–niche unities that we live.
We initiated the reflections that we have present in this essay with the observation that as living beings appeared on the earth in the spontaneous arising of molecular autopoietic systems, they must have appeared together with the condition of the medium that made them possible as their dynamic ecological niche. In other words, we are saying that the spontaneous arising of living beings as molecular autopoietic systems could only have happened with the simultaneous arising of ‘‘love’’ as the individual relational dynamics that made possible for each organism the spontaneous constitution its ecological niche as the dynamic domain of the realization of the continuous now of its existence. The word love connotes in our human daily living interpersonal sensory, operational and relational dynamics that occur without demands, without expectations, without assumptions and without prejudices, (Maturana and Verden-Zðller 2008; Maturana and Dávila 2008) which is the only ambience in which organisms exist and can exist in the realization of their living. Frequently it is said that feelings, emotions, love … are not scientific themes because they are subjective, not objective happenings, but to say so is a great mistake.
Science12 occurs as we describe and explain the coherences of what we do in the realization of our living with the coherences of what we do in the realization of our living satisfying the criterion of scientific explanations, criterion that can be used in any domain in which we may have a question for which we want an explanation. If we do not understand this we do not understand science, philosophy, technology, art, morals, social relations, ethics… Accordingly, love, the spontaneous relational dynamics that makes possible the happening of the dynamic ecological niche in which an organism exists, is the fundament of the coherences of all that happens in the spontaneity of ‘‘nature’’; the negation of ‘‘love’’ always appears in the worlds that we humans generate as we live them when we want to control the lives of other human beings, other living beings, or nature in general.
The unfortunate happening is that, as we want to control nature we lose understanding of the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that we integrate, and we begin to lose the social wellbeing and ethical harmony of the spontaneous coherence with our domain of existence in the realization of our living. And as that happens we fall in the metaphysical temptation of wanting the certainty of a transcendental control in the attempt to recover it through more control, generating more disharmonies as we lose our understanding of our ecological living. What kind of coexistence do we want to live? What kind of dynamic ecological individual and collective niche we want to generate and integrate as we realize the anthroposphere–biosphere that we generate and inhabit as we live as reflective human beings? Do we want the harmony that arises as we collaborate in a common project of coexistence in the anthroposphere–biosphere that arises as our extended ecological niche, acting in the spontaneous mutual respect and understanding of love that can arise with what we do as we enjoy what we do with others?
In these circumstances what matters is what we chose to conserve as we always do in our living what we want to do; even when we say that we do not want to do what we are doing, we do what we do because we want to conserve something not apparent in that moment. What do we want to conserve in our living as human beings that exist as persons that know that they know that they generate the worlds that they live as they live them? This is the fundamental ethical question in our human living. An ethical concern occurs when we reflect on the possible consequences of what we do, and we realize that we do not want any negative consequences on other human beings, other living beings, and the ecological domain in which we exist, or the biosphere that makes us possible and we chose to act so that nothing of that kind occurs. There are no different ethics for different domains of human activities. The fundament of ethical concerns is love, and if we speak different ethics the most likely thing is that we are justifying some discrimination.
Part 6: Epilogue
6.1 Spontaneous Ethical Being
In our transitory existence that occurs with a beginning and an end, there are three questions that always remain unanswered, and that are: (1) what are the initial conditions for the possibility that all that happens in our domain of existence, may happen? (2) Is it possible that we human beings that exist as languaging reflective beings that exist with a beginning and an end in the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that we integrate may be able to answer the first question? And, (3) Are the answers to these three questions of any relevance for our understanding of the nature of our living as molecular autopoietic beings?
If we do not want metaphysical answers, the answers to these three questions are the following:
Whatever answer we human observer give to these questions will necessarily occur in the domain in which we exist and operate as molecular autopoietic systems. That is, any answer that we may propose for question (1) will have the form: All the conditions that make possible the molecular domain must take place as operations in a sub-molecular generative domain that makes possible the arising of the molecular domain. Such sub-molecular domain must necessarily exist in the same fundamental sensory, operational and relational domain in which we make all our cognitive statements as molecular autopoietic systems as we operate as human observers, including our distinction of ourselves as molecular autopoietic systems: that is, we can speak about such sub-molecular domain only to the extent that it appears in our distinctions through what we do in the sensory–operational–relational domain that is our domain cognition as molecular autopoietic systems.
Therefore, whatever answer we give to question (1) will take place as an operation that we perform as molecular autopoietic systems in the molecular domain in which we exist as such, and whatever answer that we may give pretending that has a transcendental foundation will be an explanatory invention that attempts to put us operating outside the molecular domain of our existing as molecular autopoietic systems. Cosmology as it appears as we explain the coherences of the realization of our living with the coherences of the realization of our living, shows the sub-molecular generative processes that would have generated the molecular domain in which we have arisen as molecular autopoietic systems: we exist in the sensory–operational–relational domain that arises as we operate as totalities, and what happens to us and with us as human beings does not belong to the sub molecular domain although this may affect our molecularity.
The answer to question (2) is implicit in the answer that we gave to question (1) because in it we say that whatever we may propose in our answers to all questions will of necessity take place in the domain in which we operate as human beings as we happen in the realization of our molecular autopoiesis. In other words, the answer to question (2) is yes to the extent that we do not want to invent a transcendental answer founded on a transcendental domain of which we cannot speak.
The answer to question (3) is that the answers to questions (1) and (2) are irrelevant for the understanding of the nature of living because we already understand that the happening of living occurs in the realization of the biological domain as the domain of dynamic sensorial–operational–relational existence that arises with the spontaneous happening of molecular autopoiesis, and that the human domain arises in the sensory–operational–relational domain in which living systems operate as totalities as languaging human beings.
The reflections just presented leave us again with the first question, question that has fascinated humanity since many generations ago, and that in the present fascinates many scientists, particularly physicists that search for a unique cause for everything. But now we are aware that we know that any answer that we may propose to the question about the origin of everything will necessarily take place in the sensory–operational–relational domain of the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems as we operate as totalities in our human domain as languaging beings, precisely because we are molecular autopoietic systems, and everything that we do occurs in that domain. However, we are now also aware that if we were to insist in explaining our living and what we do in our living with some fundaments that do not belong to the molecular domain in which we exist as molecular autopoietic systems, we can do so only inventing some ad hoc transcendental metaphysical generative principle that we choose to accept. The good thing is that we now also know that if we were to propose some transcendental notion in order to explain the origin of everything, that notion will necessarily be a metaphysical invention in the domain of our realization as molecular autopoietic systems in our human domain.
Nonetheless, if we dare to accept that we now know that the question about the origin of everything that happens in our living cannot be answered by making reference to some fundaments that do not belong to the molecular domain that arises as we explain what we do and how we do what we do in our living with what we do in the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems, we are free to choose what path we wish to follow. We are free to choose, either to accept that all that there is occurs in our doings and in our explaining our doings as human beings in the realization of our molecular autopoiesis, or to accept that the fundament of all that we do occurs in an invented transcendental domain that lies beyond the domain of what we do, and that it may be whatever we choose it to be. And we are now also aware that whatever we choose in this dilemma will guide our living and what we do until we change, and decide something else while we can reflect on what we think and do. Whatever we chose is a legitimate choice provided we do not become fundamentalists and lose our ethical concerns. Love is in every case the fundament for anything to happen in our living, even when we deny it.
The path that we (the authors) choose here to follow to answer the questions about the fundaments of all that we do, is that of accepting that all that we do occurs in the sensorial–operational–relational coherences of the cosmos that arises as we explain the sensorial–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living as reflecting languaging human beings with the sensorial–operational–relational coherences of the realization of our living as molecular autopoietic systems.
Therefore, we chose to accept the consequences of our finding and of our understanding through our explaining of our living with our living, that shows that all that there is in our living occurs as the dynamic ecological organism–niche unity that we integrate as the cosmos that arises as the domain in which occurs our living as human beings as we explain our living with our living as a spontaneous dynamic molecular architectures. And in doing this we choose as well to accept that whatever we may wish to call reality in our cultural present, is in fact all that which we live through all that we do as molecular autopoietic systems in the dynamic ecological niche unity that we integrate in the realization of our living as reflective languaging human beings.
In these circumstances, and according to what we have already said, even that which some person may wish to call transcendental would occur, if it occurs in some aspect of his or her living is necessarily as an aspect of the reality that he or her happens to live as a molecular autopoietic systems in the dynamic ecological spontaneous architecture of the organism–niche unity that he or she integrates in the realization of his or her living. So, whatever we do in our living as reflective human beings always arises in one way or other according to what we consciously or unconsciously conserve in the realization of our living, in a process that gives or negates meaning to our living. Reality is whatever we live in our daily living, and will have one character or another depending on how we live and what we conserve in the realization of our living.
What do we want to conserve?
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Humberto Maturana R. PhD in Biology at Harvard University. Co-founder, researcher and professor of Matríztica, also he is emeritus professor in the University of Chile. He is co-founded also of the first science faculty of Chile; to his laboratory he called Neurobiology and experimental epistemology. In 1994 he received the national science award. He studied medicine and biology and he created the notion of Autopoiesis a manner to understand living beings among another concept that have been used in many different ambits of the human knowledge.
Ximena Dávila Yáñez Co-founder, researcher and professor of Matríıztica. She studied human and family relations, specializing in work relations. Over the last years, she has developed her vision of the biological–cultural nature of humanness in particular, focused in the domain of human relations in order to understand how relational pain and suffering arises and how a person can come out of it. Following this path, she has developed the understanding and praxis of what she calls liberating conversations, in the field of therapy, that is manner of generate autonomy and self-respect releasing the pain and suffering through conversation understating that this one is the mechanism of the world(s) that we lives and live together.
Simón Ramírez Muñoz researcher, professor and assistant manager of projects of Matríztica. He studied biology in Chile. His career as focused as student of Humberto and Ximena in the domain of biology and cultural-biology. And his main preoccupation has been the understating of humanness (observer), evolution (natural drift), and the impact that such comprehension have in the different field as daily living, science etc.
- Ximena Dávila Yáñez and Humberto Maturana Romesín created Matríztica as an Institute that later has become a school for studying our human manner of living as person that fundamentally care for avoiding the possible negative the consequences of what they do on the living of other persons and the biosphere … and sometimes do not. Now we think of Matríztica as a School of the South of the World for Ideas, Understanding and doings that expand the harmony of the anthroposphere and the biosphere that we humans generate with what we do.
- Our zoological denomination as species is Homo sapiens, but we have decided to speak about us human beings calling our psychic evolutionary identity Homo sapiens-amans amans to refer to the manner of living that begun to be conserved from one generation to the next in the learning of the children since the origin of their living in languaging in an ancestral family in which the ontogenic conservation of love deﬁned their manner of living.
- Love in our human domain is a word that connotes a relational dynamics in which the participants of an interaction do not act with demand or expectation for a particular response of the other in their encounter, and proceed in the relation according whatever is happening in it in a way such that if there is no coherence for going on the participants separate, and if there is coherence they continue in the interaction in the pleasure of the company each conserving its individual identity. In our human domain the love dynamics is the fundament of our coexisting in wellbeing in the conservation of our respective individual identities. Accordingly, the relational dynamics that makes possible the living of living beings as molecular autopoietic systems is love, and it is so as a basic relational condition that arises and occurs in the existing of a living system but is not part of its living. We call this fundamental love relation basic or primary love ecological relation because it is the local condition of possibility for anything to occur in the cosmos that arises as we explain the coherences of our living with the coherences of the realization of our living.
- We human beings operate as multisensory observers as we make distinctions, that is, in any distinction that we make we do it being involved in it with all our sensoriality. Therefore, in what follows whenever we speak of the observer or of observing we refer to us human beings involved with all our sensoriality in making the distinction that we are making.
- Existence arises with the operation of distinction of the observer because all that he or she can talk about what appears as he or she makes a distinction is that what he or she distinguishes arises with characteristics or properties that result defined by what he or she does in the operation of distinction through which it appears. As we realize that we do not distinguish in the experience between what we may later call a perception or an illusion, we also realize that we can only talk about what we do.
- When we speak of systemic reproduction we refer to the fact that when organism reproduces what happens is that what is indeed reproduced is the organism and its dynamic ecological niche because the organism does not exist as a living system without it. The systemic reproduction involves both genetic and not genetic phenomena in the systemic involving of its dynamic ecological niche in the phenomenon of reproduction itself.
- The medium is what an observer sees as the great operational container in which the dynamic ecological niche of whatever he or she distinguishes arises as that dynamic part of it in which the distinguished entity occurs while it occurs. Although in this essay in particular we speak of the dynamic ecological niche of living beings, this notion applies to everything, entity or process that we distinguish.
- When we speak of ontogenic phenotype we refer to the form of realization of the living of a particular living being in the ecological dynamic niche that arises with it. What is conserved in the constitution of a lineage in the process of systemic reproduction is an ontogenic phenotype that involves the configuration ecological organism-niche unity.
- The notion of systemic reproduction was first presented in English in the article ‘‘The origin of the species by means of natural drift’’ written by Humberto Maturana-Romesín and Jorge Mpodozis, and was published in the ‘‘Revista Chilena de Historia Natural vol. 73, the year 2000. The English version is an expansion of an article published in the same journal the year 1992 with the same title but in English.
- An epigenetic process occurs in the manner that we describe with the use of a toy, a lego. Imagine that you give to your son or daughter a lego in which the instructions that come with it only tell: (1) Take a piece that says on it beginning totality, and fit on it the pieces that you see fit with it. (2) After you have done that you will see that you have in your hands a new totality that looks very different from the first one, and whose shape tells you that now it is possible to fit other pieces that could not have been put together before. (3) After you have done, that you have in your hands a new totality that look different from the first and second one, and see that its shape tell you that now you can fit on it other pieces that you could not have fit on the previous totality. (4) After you have done that, you have in your hands a new totality that looks different … and the instructions tell you that if you recursively repeat this process you will find that an unexpected figure appears.
- As observers we distinguish two kinds of unities, simple unities and composite unities. When we distinguish a simple unity we distinguish a totality interacting in its niche by means of features or properties that arise with the operation of distinction with which we distinguish it, and in which we do not or cannot distinguish components. When we as observer distinguish a totality in which we distinguish components, we distinguish a composite unity of which we can speak of organization and structure.
- What we scientists do is not what we say that we do when we say that science is an objective manner of knowing the cosmos, the universe, and the reality in which we exists. And we usually are not aware of this because we do not ask ourselves about what is to know. What we indeed do as we do science is to explain what we do in our living with what we do generating domains of sensory–operational–relational coherences in the realization of our living. And we do this as we explain proposing generative process in the sensory–operational–relational coherences that if they operate in the domain of the realization of our living give rise as a result to experience that we want to explain. And this is how science expands the domain of our doings in the domain of our doings.