as an autopoietic system: new vistas
I.M.Sechenov Institute of the evolutionary physiology and biochemistry,
According to Gaia
hypothesis, put forward in seventies by an English scientist James
Lovelock, with the appearance of life, our planet had got self
properties, inherent to living biological organism. Particularly, aspects of surface
chemistry are being self
supported at constant, comfortable for existing
life forms value for more than 3.6 billion years (Lovelock, 1988).
In many relations, Gaia, as living planetary system is close to Vernadsky’s biosphere
concept, developed by the ou
tstanding Russian scientist in twenties. Conventionally
“Gaia” can be used as a synonym of “biosphere”.
In his work “The Self
Lovelock’s “Gaia” is a mul
, viz., a cyclically organ
ized network of
productions (transformations and destructions) of components, that recursively
regenerate and support this very network.
“Autopoiesis”, a neologism, meaning “self
production” was coined by Chilean neurophysiologists and system theorists H.M
and F.Varela (1986) in seventies. It is the name of
model of life
interacting with its
t holistically by adaptive change of
structure (“structural coupling”) for the sake of conserving the autopoietic org
Structurally determined reactions on reciprocal perturbations bring about the co
evolution of the system and its environment. Autopoiesis is now accepted as a
theoretical basis of the contemporary cybernetics (the second
order cybernetics (von
Foerster, 1974)), sociology, management and robotics.
ast two decades were marked by great progress in the development of Gaia
geophysiology as well as in the theory of autopoiesis. This work is
ic interpretation of
Autopoiesis and bootsrap
Applying the criteri
proposed by F.Varela (1979), and
perfected later by Fleichaker (1988),
conclude, that Gaia is an autopoietic
system, yet of a special type.
From first sight, Gaia
is a self
determined system, because the internal medium is the
main source of perturbations, responsible for
development and evolution.
But, if we
accept the cosmological ‘bootstrap’ hypothesis, put forward by Geoffry Chew, t
internal and external processes are co
In many aspects Gaia is
materially closed in contrast to ordinary biological organism. She is a local cosmos,
necessary condition of life existence.
, the autopoietic
can be interpreted as a
, or an infinite recursion.
physicist Geoffry Chew
developed a ‘bootstrap’ approach to sub
particles in which no particle is to be considered as more fundamental than any other.
This is not
a traditional but instead a collective mode of elementarity. This theory has
not been very successful in physics up to now, and Chew has tried to apply it at the
cosmic scale. The bootstrap idea in general seems to be more applicable in planetary
Planetary bootstrap, Klein bottle and model of punctuated epigenesis
evoked the topological image of
Klein bottle to illustrate
In this manifold, which
can be constructed by pasting together two M
erior and exterior are topologically connected.
With the ‘
(1998) named such system “holon” (see below).
If we represent p
as bootstrap, then the
s can be interpreted as a breaking of that topological structure in an
autopoietic space, when the non
traditional, collective elementarity
for a short period of
is changed by the traditional one.
became a basis of
conceptual model of
aia evolution as
(Kazansky, 2001, Kazansky, 2002(a); 2002(b))
. In this
the periods of gradual
evelopment, occasionally interr
s, characterised by the
autopoietic organisation and
of the system
Traditionally, evolution is understood in darwinian sense
as the historical d
evelopment in succession of replications and reproductions.That is
why, Lovelock spoke about “Gaia epigenesis” or individual development. Gaia is
developing internally, without reproduction, through periodical organizational self
urations”). It looks as new form of open
evolution of the autopoietic system with darwinian
like processes in its parts.
Gaia immunity and homosphere
The biosphere has given rise to
“homosphere” (as H
system, which manipulate
biosphere for the sake of it’s short
sighted egoistic interests, th
of its own biological existence.
From the conventional point of view, t
relationships between h
and biosphere can be interpreted as
lack of mutual
understanding of the
host and the parasite. The
hypothesis is proposed
(Kazansky 2002(a), 2002(b)),
that Gaia answer
in the same way a
immune response of
biological organism, described by F.Varela in his “cognitive
(Varela,1979). Two most probable scenarios of this system evolution are
human population extinction and emergence of new macro
ming autopoietic homosphere. The realization of the last optimistic scenario will
demand such a great transformation of social consciousness, that it looks almost unreal
in the epoch of global conflicts.
Hermeneutic spiral Gaia self
In terms o
f existential phenomenology,
he ontological aspect of
Gaian emergence and
is related with
the process of “
ing of meta
level of Being”
evolution of the Earth
Zimmer et al., 1998)
thus illustrating the historical process of
the type of Being in the periods of cris
It is a sort of existential phenomenology
applied to the
of last century fo
by Heidegger, Sartre, Merlo
Ponty et al
locality’ on this existential level
comes as a result of the inadequacy of the ontical model (the level of concrete being) of
revealing of Being’ (the process of its transmut
ation from the state of
concealment to the state of unconcealment or ‘aletheia’ in Heideggerian interpretation of
ancient Greek term) is not a deterministic, Markov
like process. The autopoietic Gaian
stage cannot be determined or produced by only the prev
ious, allopoietic stage. It is the
local process of “cosmic quantum” reduction as well. Humankind cannot produce
the autopoietic planetary system, autopoietic homosphere by conscious planned
activity. The robotosphere will never be autopoietic.
But, humankind, producing
artifacts and merging with them, is self
transforming to a new reality, new type of
Being, called by K.Palmer (1998) as “Hyper Being”. The Being of his new type of
artifacts are classified by K.Palmer as “in
hand” thus extending t
at hand” of “Static Being” (non
live entity) and “ready
to hand” of “Process
Being” (living systems and autopoietic systems, including Gaia).
Gaia, the ‘planetary autopoiesis’ or ‘bootstrap’ could only appear on the stage
cosmic bootstrap. The cosmos as a whole is responsible for its emergence. So, the
global crises, which are responsible for the evolution of our planet’s autopoietic
organisation, are the periods of structural coupling of Gaia with ‘Cosmos’. In the
of a crisis, the “cognitive domain” of Gaia (in terms of autopoietic theory) extends to the
cosmic scale. So, the internal, sub
atomic Gaian bootstrap, and the cosmic
bootstrap are related. Gaia can be viewed as a virtual particle, bootstrappi
‘Cosmos’. She is a local cosmos, type of Being, background for all future emergent
states and forms. But she can do nothing but to demonstrate the readiness of the
universe or the multiverse to accept man as he is. Thus, according to this hypothesi
traditional scientific approach to the Gaia evolution is of limited applicability. This is
true for the proposed “objective” model of Gaia immunology as well. The modelling of
Gaian evolution (embodiment) in the cosmos can be based only on the non
approach and needs a new technique and epistemology.
theory: Gaia as holon
In its turn, true role of humankind in Gaia evolution and formation of Homosphere
cannot be understood only from the classical scientific position. We are
now in a
situation of included observer. The classical autopoietic theory in its phenomenological
part (the autopoietic observer) is controversial and paradoxical, what makes it non
science. But, thirty years of discussions were conducive to development of
systemic theory and rationalistic approach to ontological monism of neo
Kent Palmer (1998), trying to surmount contradictions of classical autopoietic theory
is developing Autopoietic Metatheory and Reflexive Autopoietic Sy
stems Theory. He
had to operate with paradoxicality and suprarationality, applying buddist Vajra logic,
apparatus of hypercomplex numbers, Spencer
Brown Logic of distinctions. Gaia is
special environment, in which whole is equal to the
sum of its parts
and which realizes autopoietic bootstrap. The topology of Klein bottle and hyper
is constituent part of this meta
theory. He can only speculate about emerging of
Reflexive Autopoietic System, autopoietic homosphere.
It is clea
r, that subject and object in homosphere are paradoxically dynamically
related and form a wholeness on meta
systemic level. It is becoming clearer, that
spiritual and mental moment of our existence is becoming main force in the Earth
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