Thursday, November 16, 2017

Contra Columnis Quintus XII

Analogues Across Domains of Life as Specimen and Species


In order to discuss the nature of life considered on the scale of a group of individuals reproducing after their kind, that is, a species, it is well to go on with the discussion of life's attributes per specimen in regards to the last attribute I have yet to discuss, with which everyone is familiar, reproduction.  Reproduction needn't be sexual, and is simply a process of reiterating a life form's bodily information into a fresh form starting from a simple beginning, and then developing into another full grown entity of the same kind, most often with the very same capability to reproduce (though this may not always be the case, depending on the species, taking the adult forms of ants, bees and wasps as an example where not all specimens reproduce, though the species does "as a whole" through the queening process).  While it is not the same as regeneration per specimen, it is still analogous, as at minimum the effect is to create one "newer" specimen than was before.  After damage, regeneration makes the specimen newer, and so creates "on newer specimen than before".  Reproduction does this in a variety of ways yet does it by creating an entirely new specimen out of the information contained in the predecessor(s).  This has a relation to regeneration in that there is a "habitable" zone in the organization of life forms so that if they cannot regenerate at a rate which exceeds the forces of entropy, then they must reproduce at a rate faster than the deaths of specimens, of there will be NO specimens even if it is just due to time passing sufficiently.

So it seems that for whatever reason, owe it to entropy, perhaps, specimens of a form of life, however adaptable that they are, end up breaking down and dying.  This happens even if they aren't directly injured by anything in their environment.  If reproduction is in their capability, then whatever information about their life form specific to that individual that is capable of being recapitulated in a new life form specimen has an opportunity to be passed on through the transference of that information as genetic code embedded in the deoxyribonucleic acid compounds that are in the cells of the organism.  It seems that the impulse for this to occur is built into the code of the organism in such a fundamental way that it is part of the definition of being that organism. 

All species do this and have always done this, at least to the best of my knowledge, which I confess is scant on the subject of biology, certainly as compared with what that knowledge ought to be (by now).  I do posit that there is a likely cause for the need for this process in life as we know it in this domain, this "world".  I take it to be a function of the laws of physics pertaining to the generation and decay of order as such.  If something did not already exist, say some ordered form of elements, compounds, and complexes of these, then that is because the sufficient cause for this did not yet exist.  Yet if that is the case, then that means that it is not "natural" for that to exist.  Not natural unless the prerequisites for the existence of that entity happen to occur.  Yet what is the difference between this situation for such an entity, and "death" for an organism, after that death has taken place? What is the difference between the "before" and the "after" concerning the existence of something (as to apparent conditions of the events where the entity "isn't")?  It seems that, just in itself, there is no difference.

So if there is not a proper impetus for something to exist, it is "destroyed in advance of being created" one might say.  But let's say that there is the potential for it to exist that is not yet manifest as an actuality.  Then that is as if to say that, if it is to exist, then the pre-emptively preventative destruction of its existence had to be eliminated from the active field of conditions.  How is that?  Well, whatever the conditions, if they don't lead to the existence of an entity, then they are in their current condition, by default, preventative of it.  It's as if the entity wants to exist but is being "frustrated" by circumstances that disallow it, which are a subset of all the conditions that are "not conducive" to it.  When the conditions conducive to the existence of an entity arise, then that means the dispelling of the conditions which had frustrated it, and so therefore it means the promotion of the existence of the entity to the point that it manifests in actual existence.

So whatever leads to the existence of life, surely it had some frustrating conditions through which to work before manifesting.  Let us just say that it is necessary, at a minimum, for conditions of an environment in which life would exist to be without any forces preventative of it being sufficient to kill them faster than they can regenerate or reproduce or be replaced in some other fashion.  Then whatever remains that would enable that life to manifest and continue to manifest can be supplied without frustration so as to lead to the formation/continued formation of that life.  It is necessary for the limiting conditions to be absent (itself a negative "necessary cause" which is "present" in the absence, so to speak), and it is sufficient for the necessary causes (which have positive form) also to be present, simultaneously, in order for life to possibly exist in a way accessible from the world of consideration.  One might even just say that the absence of limiting factors must be a part of the conditions considered "sufficient", though we may not yet know what triggers the actual event.  It must not be raining cats and dogs on a match, or it will not light.  If it has been lit, then "it must not have been raining cats and dogs on it" is the same statement said in another way, without undue regard for tense.  Yet, the condition of it not raining cats and dogs on the match, while necessary for it to be lit just then or at any time, is not sufficient for it to be lit.  In the same way for life.

So there is some sort of difficulty with things coming to life in this world as complex organisms.  They tend to be killed in way more circumstances than in which they can or would survive, let alone in which they could survive well. So for these conditions to be optimal in such a way as to generate an immortal life form (unless killed by force), would seem a bit far-fetched unless that organism had existed as long as that environment had existed.  But we are saved from this speculation by rememebering that some sufficient cause may have had to be in existence in addition to such a hospitable arrangement of forces acting in the environment, and which are directly acting on the organism (even if just by proxy).  At least we can say that if that process is not persistently acting on and through that organism, then the organism will not be able to survive even in the most hospitable environment. That condition met, it will survive as long as the counteracting forces do not wear out its influence or blockade up to some critical point.  This opens up the discussion of catalytic factors that may be variable and dynamic.

Let that "acting force" be the homeostatic relations between the genetic material and the raw materials processed into and out of the organism, and all attendent actions that the organism takes in itself and in its environment.  Let that be disturbed in some way that gradually wears down that homeostasis because the genetic material, while possessing "information", is not itself mere information, but arrangements of molecules which embody that information.  Let's say that because of the forces of entropy, which is that in a closed system the elements contained therein tend to reach only some basic form of order which, without a constant supply of fresh causal impetus from outside that system, cannot reach up to some other level of order which is complex beyond that baseline threshold.

Let's say that the life forms which are caused to exist with a reproductive capacity could live on and reproduce forever, but that some force cut that short in a way that amounts to killing it.  But let's say that conditions come about for that species so that the specimens within it, while potentially immortal, now begin to wear down on a basic genetic level and cannot, as specimens, be restored for some reason.  Then while reproduction might not have been for the sake of preventing the death of the species due to decay, it just works out that it does, just as it had prevented these potentially immortal beings from being killed off faster than they can reproduce up to this point (imagine Klingon-levels of active warfare, or Borg levels of self-reingineering requiring new assimilation of specimens and species).  But now there is an issue where the environment on a basic physical level cannot prevent such life from forming, but these life forms cannot prevent the basic fact of their existence from being temporary due to genetic decay.  So the forces which generate life are stronger in one way than the forces which destroy them (excluding brute killing forces other than the passage of time and entropy).  So, let's just assume that this is a world where such conditions obtain. Therefore, the only life forms that could survive over great lengths of time would be those which had a reproductive function.  Assuming that these processes "evolved", then this would be all the stronger of a case for that explanation, since it would take very long periods of time for these developing life forms to complexify in adaptive and stable ways so as to lead up to the level of complexity that is found in animal life.

Whatever the cause of the original simple forms of life, that must have been at the same time the cause of their capacity to reproduce themselves, or at least in those cases where it was, then it was those life forms which continued to evolve since they could as a species accomplish changes in their overall structure, through changes in their genetic code, which the individual could not, and so only those could develop beyond the simplest of beginnings.  This might be quite different in worlds where the life spans of the same organisms were very much different.  But by the same token, the cellular root of the development of the organism per specimen may not have the same plasticity upon reaching adulthood as it does during development.  But if it did, then perhaps constructive mutations could occur within the life span of a single organism rather than merely across many generations of it through reproduction of the simple form of the organism and its adaptations gradually during its developmental period and, in some species, its recombination with other specimens and their genetic information, which may have adapted in ways convivial toward a recombination leading to a constructive adaptation.  As it is, per specimen, the neuro-glandular system is the closest thing to such adaptibility which can exceed the coercive entropy of the environment beyond merely sustaining homeostatic integrity.  It seems a wonder that it can't influence the genetic material, outside of laboratory and selective breeding pressures, but can otherwise completely regulate the bodily systems.  But there is evidence of degrees of malleability in this regard.

But those Methusalean worlds are merely of speculative interest, and could probably manifest right here in this world if it weren't so damned sabotaged against the majority of life forms by a seemingly malevolent intent.

So the species, as such, is simply the group of individuals of a common genetic type which are derived from the same basic code to the extent that they either had a common ancestor, or else were created from conditions which made them genetic duplicates or near duplicates of one another.  There is more than one entity, and they are quite like one another except for variations in their forms that indicate exactly the sort of variances of genetic code which are able to vary within the species without changing its fundamental character enough to make the specimens incompatible with one another for reproduction, common projects of activity for survival and flourishing, and for evolving in the same environments.  On the same token, they are distinctions which do not make them of the same species with other species, though they share similarities in these traits so that they are superficially similar.  An emperor penguin and a human both are bipedal, but they are not compatible as one species.  A chameleon and an alligator are both reptiles, but they have very different traits as well, and just both being "cold blooded" doesn't count as a sufficient complement of fundamental traits so as to unite them into one species.  Alligators and crocodiles are much closer together, but are still very different and also treat one another as very different.  

It would seem that however this system of behavioral proclivities leading to reproduction was achieved, it was developed in such a way that organisms generally have the initiative to engage in that behavior with only the provocation of a condition making it possible and feasible.  It seems they can identify their own kind without difficulty, so that even two wildly swirling butterflies can manage to maintain contact with one another on a windy day which makes one wonder how their powers of sight and pheremone detection manage the task.  It seems a function that is inherent to all life forms capable of reproduction to attempt it correctly with their own kind and that is why those species still exist, since the specimens die off and any complex organisms that are around have been around for a long time, and are thought by many to have inherited their forms over an evolutionary chain from very ancient and prior forms which all seemed to diverge from some common ancestor of originating protoplasm.  This is a rough description of what is probably quite similar to the logic of the actual evolutionary model.  Ask an evolutionary biologist and/or geneticist for details.

The organisms that make up as species must exist together at least long enough to reproduce their kind, and each specimen involved in that task must be able to survive into maturity and must be able to survive long enough to find a mate and reproduce.  And this must, by and large, take place with a success rate that outstrips the forces of destruction and inconvenience which are arrayed against them at every turn.  So there is already an interesting similarity between the species and the specimen right here.  The group would not exist if its specimens did not have it in them as individuals to survive (through development, regeneration, and adaptive action) and reproduce.  The individuals would not exist unless the species had sufficient cooperative capabilities among its members so as to not kill one another wantonly, survive well enough together and near-enough to one another  so as to meet and reproduce, and then to cooperate in some way sufficiently conducive to the further development of new specimens, a new generation of the species, which will carry in its genetic code the same capabilities as its parents had, and therefore ensure that they'll have a further generation of decendent specimens beyond their own immediate decendents and themselves ad infinitum, just as their ancestors did for them.  There is already a clear pattern of homeostatic and cyclical behavior that limits these specimens' activities with respect to one another and also engenders changes in their development through their relations to one another (roles, etc).

More on this and other attributes of the species, which are analogues of the attributes of living specimens of those (and other) species, in the next article.

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