what is perceived by a living organism has a reality of its own -- and it is precisely the undeniability of it that represents both the origin and
the limit of an absolutely objective understanding of organic life. (1)
this isn't news to anybody. but believe it or not, Biology is finally coming back around to the idea that, in fact, the study of living systems
may actually require
a different interpretation of physical reality. Biologists have been fighting the notion of "vitalism" since the
days of Descartes and Newton. but the days of Biology as a subset of Physics are coming to a close.
in the above image, i have depicted the “naive realism” and “naive substantialism” of modern (deterministic, linear) physics, and how it
creates an obvious episemological bias which is standing in the way of scientific advancement. the way forward will require a reworking at the
foundations of Biology so that it more resembles the image below. (1)
this image will probably invoke quite a few responses. (all appropriate, IMO)
the construction of a meta-observer will no doubt be tricky, as it will be hard to avoid drawing self-recursive arrows into infinity. like the "all
seeing eye" of mythology, one is tempted to declare that "science is only just now coming around to what the 'ancients'
have known since
the dawn of time". i am never fond of that argument, but it may in fact be true.
for the sake of being overly-wordy, and to encourage discussion, i will let the images speak for themselves. in closing, the final image depicts a
theoretical "biological time", apart from "clock time", showing a hint of what "reworking at the foundations of Biology" might look like.
...the usual physical (linear) representation of time is insufficient, in our view, for understanding key phenomena of life, such as rhythms, both
physical (circadian, seasonal) and properly biological (heart beating, respiration, metabolic). In particular, the role of biological rhythms do not
seem to have any counterpart in mathematical formalization of physical clocks. (2)
it is worth mentioning, for the skeptics, that the following THREAD
(with a very
unfortunate title) gives a concrete example of how nonlinear analytical techniques
have already produced significant findings.
(1) - Durrive, Barthélemy (2012): Scientific progress specific to biology: An epistemological overview. In Progress in Biophysics and Molecular
Biology 110 (1), pp. 17–23.
(2) - Bailly, Francis; Longo, Giuseppe; Montevil, Mael (2011): A 2-dimensional geometry for biological time. In Progress in Biophysics and Molecular
Biology 106 (3), pp. 474–484.