Publication 8042

Csányi V. & Kampis G. (1985) Autogenesis: The evolution of replicative systems. Journal of Theoretical Biology 114(2): 303–321. Fulltext at
Questions concerning the nature and origin of living systems and the hierarchy of their evolutionary processes are considered, and several problems which arise in connection with formerly developed theories – the autopoiesis of Maturana & Varela, the POL theory of Haukioja and the earlier developed evolutionary theory of Csányi – are discussed. The organization of living systems, the use of informational terms and the question how reproduction can enter into their characterization, problems of autonomy and identity are included in the list. It is suggested that replication – a copying process achieved by a special network of interrelatedness of components and component-producing processes that produces the same network as that which produced them – characterizes the living organization. The information “used” in this copying process, whether it is stored by special means or distributed in the whole system, is called replicative information. A theoretical model is introduced for the spontaneous emergence of replicative organization, called autogenesis. Autogenesis commences in a system by an organized “small” subsystem, referred to as AutoGenetic System Precursor (AGSP), which conveys replicative information to the system. During autogenesis, replicative information increases in system and compartment(s) form. A compartment is the co-replicating totality of components. The end state of autogenesis is an invariantly self-replicating organization which is unable to undergo further intrinsic organizational changes. It is suggested that replicative unities – such as living organisms – evolve via autogenesis. Levels of evolution emerge as a consequence of the relative autonomy of the autogenetic unities. On the next level they can be considered as components endowed with functions and a new autogenetic process can commence. Thus evolution proceeds towards its end state through the parallel autogenesis of the various levels. In terms of applications, ontogenesis is dealt with in detail as an autogenetic process as is the autogenesis of the biosphere and the global system.

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