Publication 4794

Moreno A. (2007) A systemic approach to the origin of biological organization. In: Boogerd F. C., Bruggeman F. T. & Hofmeyr Ihs Westerhoff I. W. (eds.) Systems biology: Philosophical foundations. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 243–268.
I present here an analysis of the core of biological organization from a genealogical perspective, trying to show which could be the driving forces or principles of organization leading from the physico-chemical world to the biological one. From this perspective the essential issue is to understand how new principles of generation and preservation of complexity could appear. At the beginning, the driving force towards complexity was nothing but the confluence of several principles of ordering, such as self-assembly, template replication, or self-organization, merged in the framework of what I have called a nontrivial self-maintaining organization. The key of this process is functional recursivity, namely, the fact that every novelty capable of contributing to a more efficient form of maintenance will be recruited. This leads us to the central concept of autonomy, defined as a form of self-constructing organization, which maintains its identity through its interactions with its environment. As such, autonomy grasps the idea of (minimal) metabolic organization, which, in turn, is at the basis of what we mean by (minimal) organism. Finally, from the concept of autonomy, I try to show how it has generated a new and more encompassing system in which evolution by natural selection takes over, generating in turn a new form of individual organization (genetically instructed metabolism) erasing the previous ones.
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