Publication 4147

Etxeberria A. & Moreno A. (2001) From complexity to simplicity: Nature and symbols. BioSystems 60: 149–157. Fulltext at
This paper reviews Pattee’s ideas about the symbolic domain as a phenomenon related to the self-simplifying processes of certain hierarchical systems, such as the living. We distinguish the concepts of constraint, record, and symbol to explain how the Semantic Closure Principle, that is to say, the view that symbols are self-interpreted by the cell, emerges. Related to this, the notion of complementarity is discussed both as an epistemological and as an ontological principle. In the final discussion we consider whether autonomous systems can exist in which constraints are not symbolically preserved, and if biological symbols can be considered to have a descriptive nature.

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