Terms in "Origin/Nature of Life"
July 30 2000, SA and Dov exchange on definitions of terms in Dov's manuscript "origin/nature of life"
Dov: Homeostasis: a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism or group. Thus : a picture, a description, of a STATE of affairs.
SA: I find this peculiar, but when I was in my medical school years ago, we were told that in homeostasis, not the "state" part is important, but the "tendency" part. The "state" is simply a result of "tendency." Imagine an animal with an acute blood loss after a trauma. Almost immediately, the blood clots and closes the wound. That is a part of homeostasis, a tendency to preserve the inner parameters through an active process, a reflection. Moreover, right after that the blood vessels will contract, and the blood volume will be restored at the cost of the interstitial liquid, thus restoring the blood pressure and volume respectively. Again, this is what is called homeostasis, an active reflection of whatever happens, with the purpose of stabilizng the system as a whole, bringing it back to its initial state.
Dov: Note that you say "to its initial state". This is indeed homeostsis, the mechanism by which Life corrects threats to its survival. However, every life form is characterized also by an additional persistent capacity and practice of continuously evolving a new, modified, state. To me this is a revelation of Intelligence.
SA: Agreed with this point (see very bottom of this message)
Dov: Intelligence: T he capacity to apprehend facts and propositions and their relations and to reason about them. T he act of understanding ; comprehension. A lso, like in CIA, :" information communicated re …" which is where some writers we know might have gotten the idea …. Thus : the comprehensive range of processes involved in being impressed, assessing and reacting.
SA: Sure, but the problem for a formal reader is that "comprehension", "apprehension", and "understanding" require definitions of their own, and those are not very concrete, as we know.
Dov: This is THEIR problem, even though it becomes mine too since I seek to convince them. My point is that ALL the present and potential organismic capabilities of each and every individual living organism including each of us are based on and stem from the present and potential capabilities of its in-cell beings, NOT like a structure is related to bricks but as a living active society is related to its constituent individuals.
SA: I know how you feel (about this being their, not your problem), and I agree (Again, see the very bottom of this message)
Dov: Information : communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence. Thus : description of a tool, of means for doing or achieving something.
SA: Fair enough for the purpose of your manuscript .
Dov: Energy : capacity of acting, of doing work. Thus : reasonably and logically the point of start and of following persistent continuation, like in the big bang… In a way Earthly life has also started with an Earthly Life Bang when the young Earthly ambient surface composition and atmosphere "matched" a then existing "potential energy" resulting in a "match bang" of energy and chemical compounds…So we don't yet have ALL answers and comprehension. No shame to admit it, and to realize that we might still not have ALL this 100 or 1000 years from now…
SA: That's exactly what bothers me. Probably I simply misunderstand the point. Probably my understanding is opposite to what you are trying to say. Don't ALL processes in this world follow the second law of thermodynamics? I mean ALL, from minerals to minds? How than is energy relevant to whether an object is conscious or not?
DH: To me "conscious" is NOT a super duper special Godly thing over and beyond the sum of mechanisms/processes involved in an organism's existence and is especially and surely not a thing unique to humans and is undoubtedly shared by single-cell and by poly-cell life forms, even though each life form "consciouses" differently and with a different package of things.
Dov, the more I talk to you, the more I develop a forgotten feeling from the time when I was younger and was really fond of mysticism. I think (hope it will not be offensive to you) that the message that you are trying to deliver is not purely from the area of science, but from the area of perception of the world as a whole. In particluar, there are people in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who are called mystics. In Judauism those are Kabbalists, and I believe Zohar is their main text. In Islam those are sufii (spell?). In Christianity, the main figures were Maister Ekhart (spell?) (who was particularly appreciated by Erich Fromm), then Boeme (spell?), and especially Pirre Teilhard de Chardin. The latter one is the guy whom you need to read, because he came up with ideas similar to yours a century or so ago. Take a look at http://www.noogenesis.com/chardin.html and the links there, and get the original book by this author. If you can formulate how your approach is different from his, I promise to help you to collect references from recent research literature for every statement of your manuscript, and then it could be published in a journal like Biology and Philosophy or similar. Now, I suspect that you will try to find an excuse and say that you are too busy to look up the Chardin's book. I encourage you to make an effort and do it. You idea deserves the effort.