Publication 5057

Sheets-Johnstone M. (2000) The formal nature of emergent biological organization and its implications for understandings of closure. In: Chandler J. & Van de Vijver G. (eds.) Closure: Emergent organizations and their dynamics. New York Academy of Sciences, New York: 320–331.
This paper shows how recognition of biological form, of which the dynamics of closure is an integral part, is mandated by research on autopoietic systems, self-organization, evolutionary theory, and on topics in a variety of other areas, including infant and child development. It shows how a “matter pure and simple” (a mechanical concept of nature) is inimical to veridical understandings and explanations of emergent organization from the level of cells to the level of intact organisms-animate forms. By means of an analysis and discussion of writings by prominent researchers in diverse fields, a brief inquiry into neuron firing, and a consideration of intrinsic dynamics and primal animation, this paper shows that a principle of motion or animation informs biological nature. In other words, the fundamentally dynamic character of biological form at all levels exemplifies the kinetic character of living matter. The final section of this paper pinpoints implications for closure, emphasizing the need for an acknowledgement of the dynamics of closure and the need for theoretical and biological reformulations of living systems that incorporate that dynamics. It exemplifies the implication in each instance with reference to authors represented in this volume.
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