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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a very interesting article, and I would like to make a few epistemological and operational reflective commentaries that it evokes in me.
Interview with Humberto Maturana and Ximena Davila, of Matriztica School in Santiago, Chile.
Humberto Maturana is a renowned biologist and philosopher from Chile. He invented a theory of autopoiesis, about the nature of reflexive feedback control in living systems. Ximena Davila is a Professor from Chile who collaborates with Maturana, together they developed the dynamic vision that entangled the Biology of Knowledge and the Biology of Love that conform the basis for the Biological Matrix of Human Existence. Together they co-founded “la Escuela Matriztica de Santiago”.
In this interview, done by Cristina Moreno together with the staff members of the Methodist University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Humberto Maturana and his colleague Ximena Davila offer their insights and reflections about the meaning of the Earth Charter and its relevance for today’s challenges.
Yesterday, a soundclip recorded at a political rally the night before was being circulated on social media which troubled me dearly, as the tone and message was confrontational, gangster in style, and negative in its nature.
I have been involved in studying and working within what is now called the Anthropocene for almost 50 years, and in all that time, not only have we failed to make much progress, but the state of the Earth’s ecosystems has generally worsened. Yet somehow we must create a world in which everyone on Earth has good health and a good quality of life—a matter of social justice—while living within the physical and ecological constraints of the one small planet that is our home; this is the focus of the new field of planetary health. Our worsening situation is not due to lack of knowledge, science and technology; in broad terms, we knew most of the challenges and many of the needed solutions back in the 1970s. Instead, the challenges we face are social, rooted in cultural values, political ideologies, legal and economic systems, ethical principles and spiritual/religious beliefs. Therefore, we have to move beyond science and technology and address these broader socio-cultural issues by engaging in economic, legal and political work, complementing and supplementing ‘head stuff’ with ‘heart, gut and spirit stuff’, and working from the grass roots up.
In dreams we feel like fish in water. Occasionally we surface from a dream and skim an eye over the world on shore, but we again descend with yearning haste, for it is only in the depths that we feel good. During these brief sorties we notice on dry land a strange creature, more sluggish than ourselves, accustomed to breathing in a manner different from our own, and glued to the land with all its weight, deprived of the passion we inhabit like our own bodies. For here below, passion and the body are indistinguishable, they are one and the same thing. That creature out there, that too is us, but a million years from now, and between it and us, aside from the years, lies a terrible calamity that has befallen it, because that creature out there has separated the body from passion
… (Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars)
As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few joining the dots.
For example, no media reports that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral and illegal embargo against oil-competitor Iran. A cynical reply is that this is predictable. Canada attacks any designated US Enemy in junior partnership with global corporate command.
But this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself without knowing it.