First principles in the life sciences: the free-energy principle, organicism, and mechanism | Matteo Colombo and Cory Wright

Abstract

The free-energy principle states that all systems that minimize their free energy resist a tendency to physical disintegration. Originally proposed to account for perception, learning, and action, the free-energy principle has been applied to the evolution, development, morphology, anatomy and function of the brain, and has been called a postulate, an unfalsifiable principle, a natural law, and an imperative. While it might afford a theoretical foundation for understanding the relationship between environment, life, and mind, its epistemic status is unclear. Also unclear is how the free-energy principle relates to prominent theoretical approaches to life science phenomena, such as organicism and mechanism. This paper clarifies both issues, and identifies limits and prospects for the free-energy principle as a first principle in the life sciences.

Keywords Adaptation · Free energy · Life · Mechanism · Organicism

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Baselines for Human Morality Should Include Species Typicality, Inheritances, Culture, Practice and Ecological Attachment | Darcia Narvaez (2019)

Empirical studies involve WEIRD but also unnested (raised outside humanity’s evolved nest) and underdeveloped participants. Assessing human moral potential needs to integrate a transdisciplinary approach to understanding species typicality and baselines, relevant evolutionary inheritances beyond genes, assessment of cultures and practices that foster (or not) virtue, and ecological morality. Human moral reason (nous) emerges from all of these.

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Devolution: a road map | Local Government Information Unit (UK)

Reproduced from: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/devolution-a-road-map Devolution: a road map Document type Paper Publisher Local Government Information Unit Date of publication 4 June 2015 Subject(s) Social Policy, Community Development and Regeneration Download (1.6MB ) This paper outlines proposals to invert the current relationship between central and local government by creating a locally led process of devolution in England,… Read More

From Political Warring Insecure Complexes to TRUE PEACE INITIATIVES based on UNITY of COMMUNITIES

It all started last week, when I had another flare of my recurrent joint problems, which are usually triggered from stress at the workplace that appears to be going from bad to worse. I have been trying to wean myself off steroids for the inflammation in my joints over the year, but each time I… Read More

Epistemological and Ethical Implications of the Free Energy Principle | Eray Özkural

The free energy principle states that self-organization occurs through minimization of free energy, which is a measure of potential thermodynamic work. By minimizing free energy, the organism happens to also minimize surprise over its boundary, promoting chances of survival. We discuss the ethical implications of the cognitive goal in detail from an empirical point of view, highlighting the principle of least action as a physical basis of Occam’s razor, the universality of the free energy principle, and its explanation of natural selection. We explain that the free energy principle extends to groups of organisms and helps us understand group-scale adaptations and selection in biology. The free energy principle applies to all scales of organization in the organism from single cells to the entire nervous system. When this principle is taken to its logical extremes of modeling groups, populations and ecosystems, we uncover a new, evolutionarily sensible path at explaining puzzling aspects of human motivation and judgement, including ethical decisions. To minimize free energy, populations have to act to maximize gathering of information, while building effective models at mitigating changes to its dynamic structure. The free energy principle thus provides a naturalistic explanation of some of our deepest ethical intuitions, and valuable principles of social behavior. We interpret the cognitive goal that corresponds to the principle as seeking a dynamic, fruitful, yet peaceful activity that sustains the organism. This state of mind is interestingly similar to the Buddhist intuition of mental equanimity; the organism’s final goal is to be at peace and harmony with the environment. Another immediately relevant aspect is that assemblies must form to promote symbiotic, synergistic, positive feedback loops, which coincides with the findings of ecologists. Therefore, ethics naturally emerges in self-organizing systems. Assemblies of organisms must ultimately unite in macro-minds to achieve the greatest reduction in free energy, as well as building technological extensions of themselves to improve their capacity to do such, therefore the principle also predicts a post-singularity world-mind composed mostly of artificial intelligence.

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A Manifesto

In the capitalist system, the prime directive enshrined in law is to maximize profit for the shareholders, and not to optimize benefits for all stakeholders, inclusive of workers, customers, communities and our planet.  These are treated as externalities so as to privatize the gains and socialize the losses.

In this system, workers are seen as a cost (a liability) and if the capitalists can automate what workers do, and thus bring the cost of “labour” to zero, they would do that readily to maximize profit gains.  Also having a bumper stock of unemployed people keeps the price of labour low (according to market supply-demand principles), hence the manufacturing of poverty and economic refugees, which can be stopped in a heartbeat if there is the local and global political will to end tribal “wars” and destabilizations within and without……

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TEDx Talks on the theme: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

Table of Contents

What you do with your fork impacts everything | Mark Hyman | TEDxChicago
What is the best diet for humans? | Eran Segal | TEDxRuppin
Microbiome: Gut Bugs and You | Warren Peters | TEDxLaSierraUniversity
Why is the Science of Nutrition Ignored in Medicine? | T. Colin Campbell | TEDxCornellUniversity
The food we were born to eat: John McDougall at TEDxFremont
Debunking the paleo diet | Christina Warinner | TEDxOU
Sugar — the elephant in the kitchen: Robert Lustig at TEDxBermuda 2013 Read More

TRANSCEND – Galtung Track Record on Conflict Solution/Mediation: 1958-2018


The TRANSCEND Method uses dialogues with all parties to identify their goals, testing their legitimacy, and for visions of a new social reality meeting legitimate goals. Diagnoses focus on conflict and trauma, prognoses without or with intervention, therapy on visions of solution and conciliation; proposed, propagated and realized.

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PUBLIC HEALTH: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK | Canadian Public Health Association Working Paper (2017)

This working paper is meant to provide a quick reference guide to and portrait of the underlying principles that support current public health practice; it is not intended to be the definitive treatise on this topic. It defines the perspective that CPHA will use to develop its policy options.

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Global Change and Public Health: Addressing the Ecological Determinants of Health | Canadian Public Health Association Discussion Document (2015)

The relationship between human beings and the ecosystems of which they are a part is profound. The links between health and the environment are as old as human culture. Human evolution takes place within ecosystems, and there are deep psy- chological, social and cultural connections to ecosystems that go well beyond mere physiological needs.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, myriad threats to the health of the Earth’s environment have become apparent. There is a growing recognition that the Earth is itself a living system and that the ultimate determinant of human health (and that of all other species) is the health of the Earth’s life-supporting systems. The ecosystem-based ‘goods and services’ that we get from nature are the ecological determinants of health. Among the most important of these are oxygen, water, food, fuel, various natural resources, detoxifying processes, the ozone layer and a reasonably stable and habitable climate.

Public health in the 21st century must augment its scope to address the natural world; encompass concepts such as One Health and Ecohealth; and specifically target the health challenges of human-induced global climate change, resource deple- tion, ecotoxicity and loss of biodiversity.

Our knowledge of the health impacts of global ecological change is surprisingly limited. What we know is imprecise, pre- liminary and often speculative; we have some idea of the big picture, but the details are lacking. Even in the case of climate change, we have only a modest sense of the potential health impacts, although this has been the focus of some well-resourced research over the past few decades, both globally and in Canada.

We do know that the indirect health effects of global ecological change – those mediated through natural and human systems – are likely to be much greater than the direct effects (such as heat waves), although they are harder to quantify and attribute directly to a specific global change. This difficulty in quantifying the indirect health effects is part of the uncertainty with which we must deal.

The key human forces driving changes in ecosystem functioning are population growth and urbanization, economic growth and development, technological changes and advances, and social changes and movements aligned to these forces. Under- lying and shaping these drivers are societal and cultural values, which for the past 200 to 300 years have emphasized ‘progress’ or modernization, transforming human societies from rural and agrarian to secular, urban and industrial. The long history of modernization helps us to understand our current social, political, economic and cultural conditions, and, perhaps, to anticipate a post-modern society that enables us to stabilize and reverse these harmful ecological changes.

We will need some fundamental shifts in societal values, and with that new principles, and new ways of knowing, measuring and governing. Fortunately, we do not have to invent these from scratch as we have precedents and newly-emerging practices that can help provide a foundation for the new future we need to create. The fields of health promotion and Ecohealth offer conceptual and procedural guidance to catalyze a transformation toward public health equity for future populations.

If we understand the forces that shape us and the future we face, we are better equipped to make choices, express our values in a vision and then work to create it. Within public health, we need to explore scenarios of plausible futures, and help people create visions describing their preferred future.

CPHA’s vision of healthier, more sustainable, more just societies and communities will not be achieved in isolation from wider social processes. Realizing any such vision will demand transitions both within and outside public health and the larger health sector, including an explicit re-engagement with the values of public health.

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