Reduction of developmental biology to self-referential cell-cell communication offers a portal for understanding fundamental mechanisms of physiology as derived from physics through quantum mechanics. It is argued that self-referential organization is implicit to the Big Bang and its further expression is a recoil reaction to that Singularity. When such a frame is considered, in combination with experimental evidence for the importance of epigenetic inheritance, the unicellular state can be reappraised as the primary object of selection. This framework provides a significant shift in understanding the relationship between physics and biology, providing novel insights to the nature and origin of consciousness.
“Evolutionary research has confirmed that all complex organisms emanate from cellular roots. Further, too, all reiterate through a single cell stage for reproduction. Despite outward appearances, every complex organism remains perpetually attached to an inherent cellular narrative as an intimate co-alignment of mixed cellular ecological units. We are cellular beings, and ever remain thus. Our range of unique human behaviors are therefore derivative, whether manifested as impulsive risk taking or artistic expression. All such human endeavors are our means of exploring a catalogue of necessary information within an obligatory circumstance in which the information upon which we must rely is always equivocal.
Yet, within this complexity, there is hidden unity. Our illusion of singularity depends on the transitory but inseparable conjoining cohesion of all our linked cellular ecologies. And from this emanates the largest Truth: we and the environment are entwined self-similarities. The environment that matters most is not without, it is embedded within our own natural being. And our only sure Truth is our own impermanent and ambiguous transit through this intimate and reciprocating dimension.
Why then is life full of deceptions? At all points in time and for every organism within the informational system that biology represents, the predominating driver is not just access to information, but an active assessment of its inherently equivocal context and quality. Biology’s continuous drama is the struggle to settle a range of unknowns into forms of information that are discretely recognizable as secure. Those actions that sustain us must always travel along that path. It is our simple plight that nothing need be as it seems and, in consequence, our survival is an unceasing battle to overcome inherent untruth.”
Zach Bush, MD is a triple board certified physician specializing in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, as well as in Hospice and Palliative care. The director of M Clinic in Virginia, Dr. Bush has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the areas of infectious disease, endocrinology, and cancer.
This is a mind-blowing conversation that explores new insights into the mechanisms behind human health and longevity. It’s about the massive and misunderstood impact of industrial farming, chemical pesticides, the pharmaceutical industry and even errant Western medical practices have on both human and planetary health.
It’s a conversation about the difference between the science of disease and the science of health. It’s about the microbiome as a critical predictor of and protector against illness. And it’s an exploration of autism, epigenetics and the mechanics of intercellular communication..
In the hard sciences, which can often feel out of grasp for many lay readers, there are “great thinkers” who go far beyond the equations, formulas, and research. Minds such as Stephen Hawking philosophize about the functions and nature of the universe, the implications of our existence, and other impossibly fascinating, yet difficult questions. Stuart A. Kauffman is one of those great thinkers. He has dedicated his lifetime to researching “complex systems” at prestigious institutions and now writes his treatise on the most complex system of all: our universe.
A recent Scientific American article claims that “philosophy begins where physics ends, and physics begins where philosophy ends,” and perhaps no better quote sums up what Kauffman’s latest book offers. Grounded in his rigorous training and research background, Kauffman is inter-disciplinary in every sense of the word, sorting through the major questions and theories in biology, physics, and philosophy. Best known for his philosophy of evolutionary biology, Kauffman coined the term “prestatability” to call into question whether science can ever accurately and precisely predict the future development of biological features in organisms. As evidenced by the title’s mention of creativity, the book refreshingly argues that our preoccupation to explain all things with scientific law has deadened our creative natures. In this fascinating read, Kauffman concludes that the development of life on earth is not entirely predictable, because no theory could ever fully account for the limitless variations of evolution. Sure to cause a stir, this book will be discussed for years to come and may even set the tone for the next “great thinker.”
Whole-systems thinking has to be a transdisciplinary activity that maps and integrates relationships, flows and perspectives into a dynamic understanding of the structures and processes that drive how the system behaves.
We can reduce the world to a whole just as easily as we can reduce it to a collection of parts. Neither the whole nor parts are primary; they come into being through the dynamic processes that define their identity through relationships and networks of interactions.
We should regard the boundaries that delineate one system from another as places of connection and exchange rather than barriers that separate or isolate.
This new edition of the iconic IUBMB-Nicholson Metabolic Pathways Chart brings increased functionality to a canonical tool. Now, all metabolites, enzymes, and selected pathways are searchable and interactive. The “backbone” of the map is the Glycolytic Pathway followed by the TCA (Krebs) Cycle and the Respiratory Chain which together lead to the synthesis of ATP by ATP Synthase. ATP is the source of most of the energy required for all life. Many biosynthetic and breakdown pathways of metabolism such as carbohydrates, amino acids, lipids are associated with this backbone and are differentiated by the use of color. Human metabolism is distiguished where possible by the use of black arrows. Some 550 reactions are identified by their IUBMB Enzyme Commission (EC) numbers which are then indexed.
Biological evolution is a complex blend of ever changing structural stability, variability and emergence of new phenotypes, niches, ecosystems. We wish to argue that the evolution of life marks the end of a physics world view of law entailed dynamics. Our considerations depend upon discussing the variability of the very ”contexts of life”: the interactions between organisms, biological niches and ecosystems. These are ever changing, intrinsically indeterminate and even unprestatable: we do not know ahead of time the “niches” which constitute the boundary conditions on selection. More generally, by the mathematical unprestatability of the “phase space” (space of possibilities), no laws of motion can be formulated for evolution. We call this radical emergence, from life to life. The purpose of this paper is the integration of variation and diversity in a sound conceptual frame and situate unpredictability at a novel theoretical level, that of the very phase space.
Our argument will be carried on in close comparisons with physics and the mathematical constructions of phase spaces in that discipline. The role of (theoretical) symmetries as invariant preserving transformations will allow us to understand the nature of physical phase spaces and to stress the diﬀerences required for a sound biological theoretizing. In this frame, we discuss the novel notion of ”enablement”. Life lives in a web of enablement and radical emergence. This will restrict causal analyses to diﬀerential cases (a diﬀerence that causes a diﬀerence). Mutations or other causal diﬀerences will allow us to stress that ”non conservation principles” are at the core of evolution, in contrast to physical dynamics, largely based on conservation principles as symmetries. Critical transitions, the main locus of symmetry changes in physics, will be discussed, and lead to ”extended criticality” as a conceptual frame for a better understanding of the living state of matter.
From Jos Leys, Étienne Ghys and Aurélien Alvarez, the makers of Dimensions, comes CHAOS, a math movie with nine 13-minute chapters. It is a film about dynamical systems, the butterfly effect and chaos theory, intended for a wide audience. CHAOS is available in a large choice of languages and subtitles.
Parent–offspring conflict can be defined as a state in which parents and children stand in opposition to one another. The source of conflict between parents and children can vary significantly from relatively trivial issues such as clothing choice or bedtime routine to very serious issues relating to the safety and well-being of the child. One of the principal goals of parenting is the socialization of the child – the process by which parents instill in their child the values and behaviors appropriate to a member of society. That this socialization process frequently leads to conflict if the child resists parental attempts to modify their behavior highlights several truths about parent–child conflict. To begin with, parent–child conflict is inevitable. Parents cannot engage in the socialization process without having to occasionally confront their reluctant child, and children cannot test the boundaries of their developing autonomy without occasionally frustrating their parents.
A second, and perhaps surprising, truth about parent–offspring conflict is that it is not necessarily a negative occurrence. Although we often think about conflict as something to be avoided, there is growing evidence that it may serve as a critical catalyst for children’s social cognitive development. Conflict often forces children to take another person’s perspective (in order to understand precisely what is upsetting them about the situation), to practice burgeoning negotiation skills, to understand moral and social values, and to effectively regulate their emotions in order to avoid escalating the conflict further.
A final point is that parent–offspring conflict is not a singular phenomenon. The nature and frequency of conflict changes as children develop, as do the strategies for handling conflict. A parent trying to manage their toddler’s nap schedule is going to face different challenges than a parent trying to manage their adolescent’s curfew. As children develop, they become both more receptive to recognizing and complying with their parents’ perspective on issues and more capable of negotiating and resisting their parents’ instructions. Likewise, parents’ expectations for their children’s behavior during conflict situations, as well as their perspective on their own role as a socializing agent, will change as their child develops. With that said, there also appears to be great continuity in how dyads manage conflict. When a pattern of mutually responsive, effective conflict management in which both partners are free to express their differing viewpoints and work together to resolve the issue is established early in life, it is likely to persist across childhood despite the changing nature of parent–child conflict.
Parent–child conflict is a topic that has received considerable theoretical attention. Therefore, this article begins with a brief comment on theoretical perspectives on parent–offspring conflict. In the following sections, research on the antecedents and outcomes of parent–child conflict is reviewed. We adopt a developmental perspective that focuses on the bidirectional influence of both parent and child behavior during conflict interactions. We conclude this article with a discussion of parent–child conflict that exceeds what can be considered developmentally normative – either because it occurs with greater (or less) frequency than is typically seen, or because it escalates into coercive patterns of interaction or child maltreatment. This focus on nonnormative parent–offspring conflict has particularly practical implications, as the development of successful interventions for families overwhelmed by conflict is of great importance.
Our goal in the paper is to offer both an eulogy and a critique of the machine metaphor as a theoretical resource for understanding organic systems. We begin by presenting an abbreviated history of the machine metaphor, pointing out how it was instrumental in the development of modern biology, as it provided a conceptual basis for an analytical program in the sciences of life. Then we deal with what exactly makes the machine metaphor such a successful resource, pointing to what organisms and machines in fact share in common – based on the relational approaches advanced by Varela and Rosen, we suggest that both are ʻconstrained systemsʼ. In the third part, we present an alternative way of conceptualizing living systems, bringing now the disanalogies with machines to the foreground. Reviewing the independent work of different authors, we show that there is distinct organicist theoretical camp, where the organism is generally understood as an autonomous system. Finally, we observe that many authors from that camp are now reclaiming Kant’s treatment of organisms in the Critique of Judgment, in particular the concept of «natural purpose» – but those authors do that with a markedly anti-Kantian goal: to naturalize teleology. Our conclusion is that the view of organism as an autonomous system gives us the key to a naturalistic understanding that can finally overcome the mechanical view of nature so characteristic of modern thought. The machine metaphor, despite all its undeniable contributions to the advancement of biological research, shows itself ultimately insufficient for a complex view of the phenomena of life – and discarding it doesn’t need to mean any concession to vitalism: on the contrary, it may be exactly what we need to invigorate a robustly materialist project.