Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • If we step out of our structural model of “organism” and “genetics” and look at biology through a relational lens that defines biology in general, we see a relationship climate in the biological landscape spectrum that spans from obligate (necessary) mutualism, through commensal relationships that benefit both parties, all the way to predatorily competitive where one benefits and the other is destroyed. The perception and response engine that defines biological behaviors is built on this nourish and or defend coherency model. Through this lens we begin to see the basis for the emergent systems we see intricately intertwined throughout biology on many scales.

      With this model, a full spectrum of these behaviors, from destructive to nourishing can be seen happening in the context of a single organism. Our own biological system has certain obligate (necessary) mutualistic relationships such as that between our vital organs. We have commensal relationships with microbes that provide valuable services for the proper processing of food and get to flourish themselves as a result. We also have an immune system that predatorily looks for antagonists and seeks to destroy them.

      Systems that align themselves around coherence through the recognition, acquisition and support of sustainable nourishment behaviors and defense of that coherence through the avoidance and or destruction of antagonistic factors (pathogens) that are perceived to threaten that coherence is the engine that defines coherent biological systems. (Autoimmune diseases would be an example of a disproportionate response in this process) It is also the engine that defines coherent relational models of all kinds from coherent social relationship bodies, to other organizational forms like atoms, molecules, planets, stars, galaxies and the like. Things that lend themselves to the nourishment and defense of coherency tend to be what we see as coherent bodies.

      This twofold relational axiom (nourish coherence and defend coherence) is what defines adaptive biological systems. When we look through this coherence lens, the membrane that defines sustained coherence is not defined by genetics, nor by the skin of any one organism, neither is it based on a singular organism. It is defined by an adaptive array of relationships that is bound by this nourish and defend relational bond. These various relationships are threaded through many organisms and sometimes only parts of other organisms which together define a single relational system.

      A sustainable relational economy is one that is adapted to the environment with a proportional amount sampled from that full spectrum to the point of equilibrium. As an example of this relational model in the area of defense, we see Killer T Cells as part of the human immune system, which probe for signs of antagonists that threaten the coherence of the biological body, and eliminate them with a cytotoxic venom.

    • I've read your post (but I haven't watched the video - at least not yet). What came to mind is how this idea of one entity/organism - defined not so much as some singular body but rather by a set of mutually beneficial parts or relationships - and how this idea can be applied to make an argument for reducing war. We could reduce war by increasing cooperative relationships between the two countries. We do that by increasing trade and various other ties in whatever way is possible. We make both countries dependent on one another for survival. Easier said then done but it makes me question the current USA approach to world trade.

    • Joe Carter

      If I understand you, the basic foundation is spot on in terms of reflecting what I was trying to convey. In terms of application to U.S. policy, I am not as sure. While the system dynamics are beyond my intellectual pay grade to properly analyze, I do know lopsided relationships that are not based on a mutually sustainable beneficial exchange, (beneficial defined as adding nourishing or defensive strength to the system) but instead tends toward the parasitic and predatory end, weakening one entity for the sake of the other, even if the entity being weakened is a strong one, is not a long term strategy for system stability. Some relationships bear fruit, meaning they return greater than the cost, and others do not. We need to find and operate in that cultivated fruitful space as far as i can tell. What exactly that should look like in these cases, I am not sure. I am not in the room so to speak.

      We do have to find a way to have each other's backs if we are to maximize strength, my guess is how these types of things get spun through various "news" media outlets bears little if any relation to the truth so I would not count that as authentic information. I would say the ultimate contribution to our objective experience will depend on how well the actual relationship gravitates to an economy of common nourishment and defense. How it is perceived and how that affects our subjective experience is another matter.

      I could be missing something(s)

    • Yes I was referring to mutalism or rather trade relations that benefited both parties fairly evenly. The stronger these ties, or the larger the trading mutualistic trade relationship, the less likely they are to take up arms against one another. I can't think of any example in history whereby two countries were strongly tied via a mutualistic trade relationship then went to war. I think the Marshal Plan after WWII helps to support this argument in a somewhat different way by saying it helped to maintain an equal trading relationship and not like the Imperialist trade relations (parisitism) that you've mentioned in your comment. I could see someone writing a masters or Phd thesis on such a topic comparing the nuances of biological symbiotic relationships and their corresponding country dynamics and propensity to war.

    • I'm going to suggest that cancerous killer T cells give an evolutionary advantage to the genes inside an organism that has it. How could getting cancer be an evolutionary advantage to a gene you say? Well if an organism lives too long then evolution and hence adaptation within a species is reduced or slowed down. Even if you don't accept evolution at the organism or species level it would still make sense that an organism that lives too long, especially beyond the age it can procreate, would be a disadvantage. One of the challenges with thinking about evolution however is the ease with which we can come up with just-so stories.

      How is the size of organisms related to their lifespan? Smaller organisms usually have faster metabolisms and hence shorter lifespans but is there somewhat of a universal scale of this? Large organisms that live too short wouldn't be very evolutionary advantageous... Small organisms that live in extremely variable environments that lived for long periods would also seem to me to be an evolutionary disadvantage. What do you think? Cancer aids the survival of genes? The selfish gene...or cancer our saviour?

    • If I understand you, I would tend to agree. One of the reasons I think moral arguments are flawed and unresolvable in terms of being able to be objectively settled is the same reason I think we need to look at the nature of biological relationships with a more nuanced systemic lens.

      I think constructive or destructive is a more apt and useful description of any given behavior or thing. Good and bad, right and wrong or any other moralistic spectrum tends to cause us to falsely bifurcate things into either or categories. This either or categorization is irrelevant to understand the dynamics of systems which are the principle economy of our biology and our reality.

      When constructive and destructive are used as a lens, from my perspective, it opens up the possibility to see that something could be both at the same time, or neither, or anywhere in between and change based on context, and that each aspect is always relative to a given system; meaning it could be constructive to one, or to all within a specified set, or destructive to one or all or a mixed bag etc.

      It also opens up the verbal categorical aperture to see that fruitful relationships are those that are more constructive than destructive on the whole, which is exactly how nature thinks. Nature seeks equilibrium by finding the choice between bloody and bloodier, not between perfect and imperfect.

    • I agree and would also add that people too often also think of evolution making things more complex when that also isn't always the case. Evolution has so many crazy connections and strategies that it can be naive to think we've nailed it down. Just when you think it's harmful it helps. A web of continuums.

    You've been invited!