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Life-itself as organism characteristics
Recent Empirical Philosophy about Organisms  (except from Life as Creative Organisms – Cosmos and History Journal special edition of What is Life?)

Organisms are self-creating
, i.e., autopoietic -autopoiesis requires self-creation, self-correction  & self-reference. Autopoiesis requires autonomy.   It rejects allonomy leading to informational closure.

Living entities exhibit invariant organization and structural plasticity. Self-making requires self-knowing and self-reference.
  These requirements destroy the applicability of logic as we have known it.  Also life is dipolar requiring the assertion of both poles of categorical contrasts, a paradox resolved by time and oscillation. Do not think of anything living as being logical.  There is a rationale to be discovered. Meanwhile, give up consistency and shine light on Jung’s dark side.  See good days and bad days as being in the normal flow.

Living organisms are holistic. There are no parts and no states. Organisms are created as a single whole.  It seems as if there are parts.  We have hearts, brains, kidneys, livers, etc. But they are not truly parts as in machines. 

Life works by creating new realities, novelties, variety.  It is life itself that produces evolution, not random processes or survival of the fittest.  Living processes are vibratory, oscillating between both poles of categorical contrasts to find effective acts in its creation process.  This is why, for thinking about life, I reject consistency and truth valued inference.

Organisms are autonomous.  Autonomous means self-law. 
Everything they know and can do is developed within by processes only now being discovered. They are not like any processes a machine view would imagine.  There are no computations.  There are societies of living entities, cells in humans, societies of molecules in the cells and so on down to particles.  At each level the societies permit maximum freedom subject only to coherence conditions some of which are values and value processes.  And we, as human beings are cells in a higher order society. The role of values and the valuation process that Hartman put forth now becomes incredibly important. Strictly speaking I believe it is valuation processes that are important to living entities. The necessary autonomy of living entities prevents their having any informational inputs. Yet they do need to discover what works in their living context. They do that by acting, to find effective acts. Acts that produce the organism’s intentions are effective acts.

Organisms are "informationally" closed systems.
This seems to conflict with Prigogine’s thinking for whom organisms are open to their environment taking in energy and creating islands of order within the universe moving towards disorder. Here, I am only asserting that organisms are closed to what we think of as information. Otherwise they are open to taking in energy, for example.

In the case of possible conflicts with Prigogine, the primary conflict would be the idea that the universe is moving toward disorder.  As a living organism, the universe is not moving toward disorder, but it certainly may appear to be as old orders are destroyed to be replaced by new orders. Life is creative.

Informare. Living entities are autonomous, i.e., only responsive to self-law based on informare.  Informare means formed within.  That is, the “information” available is not gathered by senses from the outside; it is formed within. They are autonomous, so they can differentiate subject only to coherence. Autonomy implies they are closed to information.  Information is not a commodity. Informare, formed within, replaces information.

Organism can only know and do what its own living history
, and that includes inherited history, has provided.

The only thing the organism really knows is its inner experience.  By inference and by abduction, it makes hypotheses.  The hypotheses are often called “abductive hypotheses”.  Abductive hypotheses are advanced for their possible usefulness and are subject to tests to determine their value. There are no in-puts in living organisms.  By body field awareness, intuitions are developed from experience formed in the body/mind directly through fields of energy. It’s a kind of “feel-think process we call "felt sense." Free will plays a key role in the functioning of an organism.

Organisms are capable of acting and initiating their own acts.  They are free to act and choose their acts based on values.  In living processes there is no cause and effect or determinism. Life evolves based on values. At all the levels mentioned above, living entities are choosing acts based on values characteristic of their level, i.e., molecules, cells, societies, etc.

Living entities are manifest with an invariant identity. Identity refers to the process specifications by which their autopoiesis occurs. A living entity cannot violate its identity. Yet a living organism can be in process and change over time. Thus the identity allows for structural plasticity. The process specifications cannot be changed or violated, but they do allow freedom in their fulfillment. In the development of structural plasticity the organism can maintain its identity. Now we begin to see many consequences such as a person cannot be controlled, may not be able to fulfill arbitrary expectations, there is no possibility of literal language and we all live in different realities.
 
Holistic means the entire organism functions as a single unity.  Appearances to the contrary not withstanding they have no parts.

Organisms are meta-stable, living on the edge.  When something appears to be trying to push it over the edge, it can suddenly mobilize massive energy. The organism is a “meta-stable energy structure” within the physical structure of a living organism.  Being meta-stable, it requires energy to maintain it.  Turn the energy source off and it is gone. This is also true for living organisms such as us.  For us the energy source is the oxygen we breathe.  Without oxygen the meta-stable energy structure dissipates. There is nothing left but non-functioning "hardware."

Organisms avoid equilibrium.  For example in energy management thermal equilibrium would mean death.  Thus non-thermal energy is stored in many nested fractal space-time regions. If the energy in our bodies were thermalized it would produce thousands of degrees Kelvin. In nature biodiversity is essential for energy management; without sufficient biodiversity our life support system will not function

Organisms are a pure democracy with each entity making choices for itself autonomously and at the same time for the benefit of the whole organism.  It functions like a jazz band. In a jazz band each musician autonomously decides what to play, yet his or her decisions work to the benefit of the whole. In a press release, from The Institute for Science in Society, Dr. Ho says: Quantum Jazz is the music of the organism dancing life into being. We are all quantum jazz players, in the very substance of our being. Organisms are thick with spontaneous activities at every level, right down to the molecules, and the molecules are dancing, even when the organisms sit still. The images obtained give direct evidence of the remarkable coherence (oneness) of living organisms. Even if we could know the complete state of an organism we could not predict its next state

Organisms have maximum freedom of action subject only to coherence conditions within its living context.
  Coherence from coheres – to stick together.  Coherence means compatible habits of acting. Coherence can be quantum coherence to axiological coherence.

Organisms are autonomic and come into being as a whole entity and grow into maturity as a whole entity
unlike machines that are assembled piece by piece by some other.  There is a distinction between being autonomic, obeying self-law, and allonomic, obeying some other’s law. Machines are allonomic; they obey the laws built in by external agencies.  There is no way for any other to build in the internal laws of a living entity. 

Organisms are complex systems versus simple systems (autonomic). Complex (living) does not mean the same as complicated.
  • No simulation possible
  • Many living entities acting uniquely
  • No largest model
  • Always becoming
  • Cannot be predicted
  • Ordered by valuation and meaning

Organisms are Not simple systems
(Allonomic)
  • Mechanistic
  • Ordered by cause and effect
  • Finite in nature, allonomic, built by external agencies

Nature’s way of management or solving problems is to create societies of living entities. Thus in this world of overwhelming variety there are uncountable societies.  Not just international societies but all kinds of sub societies; social, business, professional, the societies of cells within our bodies, etc. Also super societies from Gaia to the living cosmos. Now, harmonize does not mean homogenize but harmonize presents logical difficulties that go beyond current thinking. But it is not beyond jazz.  I am told that the theory of music enables jazz musicians to bring very diverse music into harmony.  They may have learned the theory at Julliard or simply in their experience playing. I wonder if the theory of life will be more like music theory than like physics.

For dealing with life itself we must recognize that life is creative.
  Truth preservation is irrelevant.  The necessity of consistency is, in my opinion, the most crippling error in history.

For living process space is fractal. Space/time as we have known it does not apply.

Living entities are born into unknown environments to which they must learn and adapt. To permit learning and adaptation, the identity processes allow for structural plasticity.   Survival depends on learning effective acts not representations of external world. An act is effective if the results are what were intended by the actor.  To avoid chaos and confusion a living entity must distinguish itself from its environment. See the logic of distinction in Brown’s “Laws of Form”.  (Brown)  Brown’s calculus is not expressed in sentence-like forms.  It is expressed in symbols for acts of distinction. Thus it begins to present logic as a theory of acts as we will require for the logic of life. Another paper is required to explain this.

Organisms require cooperation. Life creates change and novelty.  It creates evolution. We don’t need random processes and survival of the fittest. I wonder if survival of the fittest hasn’t led to our belief in the law of the jungle; nature red in tooth and claw.  I wonder if such beliefs made competition seem attractive.  It is now known that life in nature is primarily cooperative.  Yes people insist on calling predator-prey relationships competitive. That's our interpretation without fully realizing the living processes involved.  Trying to interpret activity that we see based on materialism leads to false interpretation because it doesn't recognize the over-all cooperative nature of Life-itself.  Cooperation between interspecies and intra-species is dominant.  Without cooperation there would be no life.

Competition is only appropriate in activities that are "autotelic," such as football.  That is, games have their own built-in goals that should not be     relevant to anything but the game. In normal life, competition is destructive!

Living process is social, i.e., carried out by democratic societies of cells. At all levels from atoms to the universe life forms societies. The society is called a nexus.  Values conflicts are resolved by a “Regnant nexus” replacing the notion of controllers.  Regnant nexus are transient as required.