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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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

‘Overpopulation’: A Cover Story for the Money Cancer System | Prof John McMurtry

It is not “the rising tide of human numbers” simpliciter that loots, pollutes and destroys the life carrying capacities of the planet. It is what all over-populationists conveniently ignore:

(1) the much still exponentially self-multiplying tides of private money demand on the earth’s resources that drives every degenerate trend in the planet’s life carrying capacities, and

(2) its ultimate driver of limitlessly self-maximizing private profit to the top which now puts more demand on the earth’s resources by a few plutocrats than by 90% of the population .

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The lies our culture tells us about what matters — and a better way to live | David Brooks |TED Talks 2019

TED
Published on Jul 3, 2019

Our society is in the midst of a social crisis, says op-ed columnist and author David Brooks: we’re trapped in a valley of isolation and fragmentation. How do we find our way out? Based on his travels across the United States — and his meetings with a range of exceptional people known as “weavers” — Brooks lays out his vision for a cultural revolution that empowers us all to lead lives of greater meaning, purpose and joy.

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The biological default state of cell proliferation with variation and motility, a fundamental principle for a theory of organisms | ANA M. SOTO, GIUSEPPE LONGO, Maël Montévil, and CARLOS SONNENSCHEIN (2016)

The principle of inertia is central to the modern scientific revolution. By postulating this principle Galileo at once identified a pertinent physical observable (momentum) and a conservation law (momentum conservation). He then could scientifically analyze what modifies inertial movement: gravitation and friction. Inertia, the default state in mechanics, represented a major theoretical commitment: there is no need to explain uniform rectilinear motion, rather, there is a need to explain departures from it. By analogy, we propose a biological default state of proliferation with variation and motility. From this theoretical commitment, what requires explanation is proliferative quiescence, lack of variation, lack of movement. That proliferation is the default state is axiomatic for biologists studying unicellular organisms. Moreover, it is implied in Darwin’s “descent with modification”. Although a “default state” is a theoretical construct and a limit case that does not need to be instantiated, conditions that closely resemble unrestrained cell proliferation are readily obtained experimentally. We will illustrate theoretical and experimental consequences of applying and of ignoring this principle.

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Biological organisation as closure of constraints | Maël Montévil, Matteo Mossio (2015)

We propose a conceptual and formal characterisation of biological organisation as a closure of constraints. We first establish a distinction between two causal regimes at work in biological systems: processes, which refer to the whole set of changes occurring in non-equilibrium open thermodynamic conditions; and constraints, those entities which, while acting upon the processes, exhibit some form of conservation (symmetry) at the relevant time scales. We then argue that, in biological systems, constraints realise closure, i.e. mutual dependence such that they both depend on and contribute to maintaining each other. With this characterisation in hand, we discuss how organisational closure can provide an operational tool for marking the boundaries between interacting biological systems. We conclude by focusing on the original conception of the relationship between stability and variation which emerges from this framework.

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Toward a theory of organisms: Three founding principles in search of a useful integration | ANA M. SOTO, GIUSEPPE LONGO, PAUL-ANTOINE MIQUEL, MAËL MONTEVIL, MATTEO MOSSIO, NICOLE PERRET, ARNAUD POCHEVILLE, and CARLOS SONNENSCHEIN

Organisms, be they uni- or multi-cellular, are agents capable of creating their own norms; they are continuously harmonizing their ability to create novelty and stability, that is, they combine plasticity with robustness. Here we articulate the three principles for a theory of organisms proposed in this issue, namely: the default state of proliferation with variation and motility, the principle of variation and the principle of organization. These principles profoundly change both biological observables and their determination with respect to the theoretical framework of physical theories. This radical change opens up the possibility of anchoring mathematical modeling in biologically proper principles.

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Key Papers on Theory of Triadic Influence | Brian R. Flay, John Petraitis and Frank Snyder

Some theories of health behavior focus on proximal cognitive predictors of behavior, some focus on expectancy-value formulations, some focus on social support and bonding processes, some focus on social learning processes, and some point toward personality and intrapersonal processes. Very few extant theories of health behavior incorporate several of these viewpoints, and those that do are limited in various ways. We propose a new comprehensive theory that integrates constructs from all previous theories. Triadic influence theory includes seven “tiers” of “causes” of behavior that range from very proximal to distal to ultimate, and three “streams of influence” that flow through the seven “tiers”: (I) cultural- environmental influences on knowledge and values, influencing attitudes, (2) social situation-context influences on social bonding and social learning, influencing social normative beliefs, and (3) intrapersonal influences on self determination / control and social skills, leading to self-efficacy. In addition to the direct influences of these streams, there are important inter-stream effects and influences that flow between tiers. The theory is intended to account for factors that have direct effecls as well as indirect effects on behavior. It is also intended to account for both new behaviors and regular behavior. Experiences with related behaviors and early experiences with a new behavior lead to feedback loops through all three steams adding to the prior influences of these streams. Our integration of existing theories leads to a meta-theoretical view that suggests higher order descriptions and explanations of health behavior, leads to a new and comprehensive view of health behavior change, and suggests new approaches for health promotion and disease prevention.

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Reflections in relation to the article “Are living beings extended autopoietic systems? An embodied reply.” | Humberto Maturana Romesín

Abstract

This is a very interesting article, and I would like to make a few epistemological and operational reflective commentaries that it evokes in me.

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