Of ecosystems and economies: re-connecting economics with reality | Clive L. Spash and Tone Smith | real-world economics review

The state of planet Earth is widely recognised as in jeopardy due to a range of environmental problems relating to a dominant economic system that extracts resources and uses energy on an unprecedented scale in human history. A long-running claim amongst mainstream economists, defenders of unregulated capitalism and those favouring a regulated productivist economy has been that human ingenuity can find substitutes for all resources and technology can solve all problems allowing humanity to change and adapt to anything. These arguments are made in almost total ignorance of how the economy interacts with ecosystems and impacts their structure and functioning, how dependent economies are on the flow of low entropy materials and energy and what are the basic limits to humans as biological animals. Indeed even ignorance itself is ignored and reduced down to risk and probabilities.

Yet, that economies must change is no longer in question. That they will change is also no longer even an issue. The question is what responses materialise as resources, energy supplies and functioning of ecosystems do change? The options being put forward are numerous, but most aim to preserve some form of high-technology, capital accumulating, growth economy embedded in price-making markets, including: green economy, climate economy, low carbon economy, circular economy, knowledge economy, bioeconomy. Yet, none of these addresses the causal mechanisms of the current crises, or structural issues facing social ecological transformation; they are concerned only with controlling for impacts and adapting to consequences, not with the bio-physical relations of the economy with non-human nature.

This article provides an overview of the relationships between economic systems and the environment, human society and non-human nature, ecology and economy. It brings together various literatures with the aim of introducing the reader to the importance of biophysical reality for the operation of real economies, and therefore also for economics. In the next section, we explain the problems facing standard economic approaches if they are to address environmental problems, but more generally their inability to even understand the social ecological crises due to a limited scope and direction. This is followed by outlining the place of economies in the context of their social and bio-physical structural relations, a basic general ontology. More specific detail is then added on the lessons that can be drawn from ecological understanding in terms of ecosystems, materials and energy. The final section draws out the implications of this understanding for social ecological transformation of the currently dominant economic systems and the type of economics required to help achieve that transformation.

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Why Public Schools and the Mainstream Media Dumb Us Down | Academy of Ideas

Malevolent authority, combined with a passive citizenry is the recipe for tyranny and so anti-authoritarians should not be feared or ostracized, they should be welcomed. They are the individuals who raise the alarm and awaken the slumbering masses to the existence of corrupt authority. A society without a healthy number of anti-authoritarians, or a society in which anti-authoritarians are shunned and silenced, is a society that has chosen the comfort of illusions, over the desire for truth, and is therefore a society paving the way for its own destruction. For as the 18th century French philosopher Voltaire cautioned:

“So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious or otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.” Voltaire

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BEYOND DARWIN: THE HIDDEN RHYTHM OF EVOLUTION BY JOSÉ DÍEZ FAIXAT 

This article surprisingly reveals the existence of a very precise spiral rhythm in the emergence of the evolutionary leaps that mark the history of the universe.

The proposed hypothesis is very simple: just as in any musical instrument successive second harmonics (1/3 of the vibrating unit) progressively generate new sounds; these same second harmonics generate all the major evolutionary novelties in universal dynamics as a whole. It is truly surprising that such a simple proposal is found to be precise and categorical when cross-checked against historical data. Let us see.

Fitting our ‘periodic table’ of rhythms to the date of the appearance of matter –the Big Bang– and of organic life, we see that every single instant of the emergence of successive taxonomic degrees of human phylogeny is marked out with utter precision: Kingdom: animal, Phylum: chordata, Class: mammal, Order: primate, Superfamily: hominoid, Family: hominid and Genus: homo! The same then occurs with all the stages of maturation of our primitive ancestors: H. habilis, H. erectus, archaic H. sapiens, H. sapiens and H. sapiens sapiens! Once more, the precision of our hypothesis is repeated in the successive transformations that humanity has experienced in its more recent history: the Neolithic, Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Modern Age and the emergentPostmodern Age! If, as we see it, all these stages resoundingly fit the provisions of the ‘periodic table’ of rhythms that we have proposed, it is more than likely that our hypothesis may also provide the key to glimpse the successive phases yet to be deployed in the years to come in an ever-accelerating process that will eventually lead to a moment of infinite creativity –Omega– within a couple of centuries.

All this is, indeed, unexpected and surprising, but is now almost certain when we verify that the same hypothesis that has behaved with utter precision when applied to the process of global evolution, also does so when cross-checked against the process of development of the individual human being! Within the same time frame, with the same pattern of folding and unfolding, and passing through the same stages, our ‘periodic table’ of rhythms periodically marks out –step by step– the successive phases embryologists, developmental psychologists and spiritual teachers talk of, thus confirming the old idea of phylogenetic-ontogenetic parallelism and pointing very specifically to an astonishing fractal and holographic universe.

It is impossible, absolutely impossible, that all this accumulation of linked “coincidences” –in both the field of overall development and that of individual human development– highlighted in this paper is the product of mere chance. The conclusions that emerge from all this clash head on with many assumptions of predominant materialistic science. Our proposal, which provides a better fit to the presented data, points to the non-duality of energy and consciousness, as posed by many traditions of wisdom. From these pages, we invite all our readers to participate in this emerging experiential and theoretical research in which dazzling prospects can be glimpsed.

Keywords: Crisis darwinism, integral paradigm, alternative hypothesis, divergent-convergent spiral evolution, accelerated rhythm, teleology, singularity, omega point, syntropy, musical harmonics, stationary waves, quantum leaps, evolutive discontinuity, fractal time, holographic universe, big history, macrocosmos (paleontology, anthropology, history), microcosmos (embriology, psychology), ontogeny-philogeny, spectrum energy-consciousness, spiral dynamics, chakras, perennial philosophy, non-duality.

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Biological Evolution as Defense of ‘Self’ | William B. Miller, Jr., John S. Torday & František Baluška

Although the origin of self-referential consciousness is unknown, it can be argued that the instantiation of self-reference was the commencement of the living state as phenomenal experientiality. As self-referential cognition is demonstrated by all living organisms, life can be equated with the sustenance of cellular homeostasis in the continuous defense of ‘self’. It is proposed that the epicenter of ‘self’ is perpetually embodied within the basic cellular form in which it was instantiated. Cognition-Based Evolution argues that all of biological and evolutionary development represents the perpetual autopoietic defense of self-referential basal cellular states of homeostatic preference. The means by which these states are attained and maintained is through self-referential measurement of information and its communication. The multicellular form, either as biofilms or holobionts, represent the cellular attempt to achieve maximum states of informational distinction and energy efficiency through individual and collective means. In this frame, consciousness, self-consciousness and intelligence can be identified as forms of collective cellular phenotype directed towards the defense of fundamental cellular self-reference.

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Selected articles on the ‘Cellular-Molecular Evolutionary Basis to a Better Understanding of LIFE’ by John S. Torday and William B. Miller Jr. | www.humansandnature.org

“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.”

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Hi – I’m reading “Humanity in a Creative Universe” by Stuart A. Kauffman and wanted to share this quote with you.

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.”

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The whole is more than the sum of its parts | Daniel Christian Wahl

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.

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No entailing laws, but enablement in the evolution of the biosphere | Giuseppe Longo, Maël Montévil & Stuart Kauffman

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.

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THE RISE AND FALL OF THE MACHINE METAPHOR: ORGANIZATIONAL SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MACHINES AND LIVING BEINGS by Victor Marques & Carlos Brito

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.

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An Illustrated Guide to Life-Grounding Elinor Ostrom’s Principles of Managing a (Civil) Commons with Planetary and Population Health Life-Value Guiding Principles

Elinor Ostrom’s 8 polycentric, subsidiarity, hierarchical, coherently-inclusive rule-making and governance-principles can be life-grounded and connected to planetary and population health via life-value guided-principles and strategies as illustrated here.

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