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.
An attempt is made to model the structure of science and art discovery processes in the light of currently defined ideas on the societal flow of knowledge and conservation of information, using the versatile physical concept of toroidal geometry. This should be seen as a heuristic model that is open for further development and evolution. The scientific process, has been often described as a iterative and/or recurrent process. Current models explain the generation of new knowledge on the basis of a number of sequential steps (activities) operating in a circular mode. This model intrinsically assumes this process to be congruent for all individual scientific efforts. Yet, such a model is obviously inadequate to fully describe the whole integral process of scientific discovery as an ongoing interactive process, performed in a cumulative fashion. This implies that any new cycle starts from a different perspective or, optimistically seen, is initiated from a higher level, in a spiral mode, that takes into account the ongoing rise of scientific perspectives. Also, any model that attempts to picture the scientific process, should include potential interactions of concepts or hypotheses, in the sense that concurrently developed concepts may (mutually) influence each other and even may be mixed or superposed or, alternatively, may even result in concept extinction. Science and art progression, both seen as an individual effort and as a historically-based flow of events, is inherently a non-linear or even sometimes a chaotic process, where quite suddenly arising visions can cast a very different light on main-stream scientific thought and/or seem to remove existing barriers in more traditional “habits of the mind”. In contrast to the rather gradual evolution of science, the history of art sometimes even shows complete rejection of preceding conceptualizations and styles. The dynamics of cognition and perception are fruitfully suggested by the rotational dynamics of a torus as a basis for its “self-reflexive” property. Also, the torus exhibits contraction/relaxation loops, in which the torus turns inside out in a vibrating mode, implying strange loop trajectories. This suggests that the toroidal geometry embodies a cognitive twist, relating the “inside” to “outside” of knowledge as with a Möbius strip, a phenomenon that can be seen as the basis for self-consciousness. The torus geometry may also be applied to the art process on the basis of personal experience, intuitive vision, intention, imagination, and technical realization of the becoming piece of art. The finalization of the art concept can be conceived as a sort of knotting of the spiral information process: By literally connecting both ends of the toroidal information trajectory, the spiral is closed and a final product is created. Importantly, both scientists and artists may be inspired by intuition and serendipity, possibly through contact with an underlying knowledge field, as identified in modern physics. Unfortunately, science that often claims objectivity, sometimes seems dominated by a range of subjective human attitudes, not different from any other field in society. One factor is the deficient science-philosophical education of our students in the current curricula and loss of academic worldviews in university careers, in which “time is short” and necessary moments for reflection scarce.
God’s dice liberates us from the prison of determinism, the hopeless tedium of the cosmic clock and the inevitable death of entropy. We have instead an intelligent Universe, where ever new and evolving life forms thrive on Chaos, where negentropy creates higher order from decaying forms. The clock is not winding down as the second law of thermodynamics had thought, it is ever being created anew. God is back in the picture, not just as the creator of the machine who then left — the ghost in the machine — but as the Strange Attractor, the origin of inexplicable and unpredictable order from chance.
We consider the fabric of spacetime from a wide perspective: from mathematics, quantum physics, far from equilibrium thermodynamics, biology and neurobiology. It appears likely that spacetime is fractal and quantum coherent in the golden mean. Mathematically, our fractal universe is non-differentiable and discontinuous, yet dense in the infinite dimensional spacetime. Physically, it appears to be a quantum coherent universe consisting of an infinite diversity of autonomous agents all participating in co-creating organic, fractal spacetime by their multitudinous coupled cycles of activities. Biologically, this fractal coherent spacetime is also the fabric of conscious awareness mirrored in the quantum coherent golden mean brain states.
Whitehead’s philosophy, discontinuous nondifferentiable spacetime, fractals, coupled activity cycles, deterministic chaos, quantum coherence and fractals, golden mean.
It is shown how both the principles of extremum of entropy production, which are often used in the study of complex systems, follow from the maximization of overall system conductivities, under appropriate constraints. In this way, the maximum rate of entropy production (MEP) occurs when all the forces in the system are kept constant. On the other hand, the minimum rate of entropy production (mEP) occurs when all the currents that cross the system are kept constant. A brief discussion on the validity of the application of the mEP and MEP principles in several cases, and in particular to the Earth’s climate is also presented.
In a recent paper  Reis showed that both the principles of extremum of entropy production rate, which are often used in the study of complex systems, are corollaries of the Constructal Law. In fact, both follow from the maximization of overall system conductivities, under appropriate constraints. In this way, the maximum rate of entropy production (MEP) occurs when all the forces in the system are kept constant. On the other hand, the minimum rate of entropy production (mEP) occurs when all the currents that cross the system are kept constant.
In this paper it is shown how the so-called principle of “minimum energy expenditure” which is often used as the basis for explaining many morphologic features in biologic systems, and also in inanimate systems, is also a corollary of Bejan’s Constructal Law .
Following the general proof some cases namely, the scaling laws of human vascular systems and river basins are discussed as illustrations from the side of life, and inanimate systems, respectively.
The principles which underpin physical law are at the heart of science. New ideas and new concepts are examined and evaluated in terms of how they lead to new insight into present paradigms. The lectures discuss methodology, important mathematical structures and various aspects of symmetry, how they lead to consistency, or otherwise, with present understanding, and how also they can facilitate quantitative analysis. Read More
Reproduced from: https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-octonion-math-that-could-underpin-physics-20180720/ FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICS The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature New findings are fueling an old suspicion that fundamental particles and forces spring from strange eight-part numbers called “octonions.” Natalie Wolchover Senior Writer/Editor July 20, 2018 DOWNLOAD AS PDF In 2014, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, Canada,… Read More
Published on Apr 4, 2015 An introduction to Constructor Theory presented by David Deutsch and Chiara Marletto, introduced by Simon Benjamin. http://constructortheory.org Constructor Theory is a new approach to formulating fundamental laws in physics. Instead of describing the world in terms of trajectories, initial conditions and dynamical laws, in constructor theory laws are about which… Read More
Our purpose in this essay is to introduce new concepts (dynamic architecture and dynamic ecological organism-niche unity, among other) in a wide and recursive view of the systemic consequences of the following biological facts that I (Maturana in Biology of cognition, 1970, Unity and diversity of man. Le Seuil, Paris, 1978; Maturana and Varela in Autopoiesis and cognition: the realization of the living. D. Riedel Publishing Co, Boston, 1980, El Árbol del Conocimiento: Las Bases Bioógicas del Conocer Humano, 1a Edición. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, 1984; Maturana and Mpodozis in Rev Chil Hist Nat 73:261–310, 2000) and we (Maturana and Dávila in Habitar humano: en seis ensayos de biología-cultural. Juan Carlos Sáez Editorial, Chile, 2008) have presented that can be resumed as: (1) that as living systems we human beings are molecular autopoietic system; (2) that living systems live only as long as they find themselves in a medium that provides them with all the conditions that make the realization of their living possible, that is, in the continuous conservation of their relation of adaptation to the circumstances in which they find themselves; (3) that as a living system exists only in a relation of adaptation with the medium that operates as its ecological niche, its reproduction necessarily occurs as a process of systemic duplication or multiplication of the ecological organism-niche unity that it integrates; (4) that the worlds of doings that we generate as languaging beings in our conversations, explanations, reflections and theories are part of our ecological niche; and (5) that we human beings as living beings that exist in languaging, are biological–cultural beings in which our cultural and our biological manners of existences can be distinguished but cannot be separated. Of the systemic consequences of these biological facts that we consider in this essay, we wish to mention two as the principal: (1) that the diversification of manners of living produced in biological evolution is the result of differential survival in a changing medium through the conservation of adaptation, and not through competitive survival of the best; and (2) that we in our living as languaging human beings (observers) are the epistemological fundament of all that we do and know as such. Read More
Below are two emails I penned yesterday and disseminated which I am reproducing here (with minor spelling and grammatical corrections). Dear Colleagues: It is fitting that this be shared as I have been following Prof Werner’s work over several years and there is life-value consilience between McMurtry’s (LVOA), Galtung’s (Peace Studies), Eisler’s (Cultural Transformation… Read More