The Evolution of Complexity - Abstracts.

Invertibility and Autopoiesis.

By G. Nagarjuna

  • Research Scholar, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences;
  • Indian Institute of Technology
  • Kanpur 20801
  • 0512-250260
  • Lab: 0512-257330 (INDIA)
  • Abstract:

    This paper is an attempt to view the various interconnected mechanisms---such as the mechanisms of identity preserving by autopoiesis, cognition, adaptation, and constructing theoretical knowledge beyond experience---by an unifying idea, namely _invertibility_. The will be presented in four parts, corresponding to the four questions, which are as follows:

    1. What is the nature of the mechanism that enables an autopoietic organization maintain its special identity? The identity maintained by autopoietic organizations is shown to be distinguishable from type-token identity based on the traditional Platonic division of universals and particulars, because it is based on _negation_ and not on _inversion_. Since the identity of autopoietic organizations emerges as a result of the constitutive processes within the organization, it requires a non-traditional notion of identity. It is proposed that this special identity is based on _the_principle_of_included_extremes_, as opposed to the principle of excluded middle---which is central to the deductive systematization of propositions. It is explained how the inclusion of oppositely directed processes (invertible processes) makes possible the emergence of the identity and closure of autopoietic organizations. In this context the idea of becoming Being, central to a philosophy that supports evolution of complex systems, is argued to be a coherent idea.
    2. What is the nature of the mechanism that enables a cognising system (it is assumed that all cognising systems are necessarily autopoietic) to perceive certain features around it? It is argued that a cognising system must have an ability (a mechanism), in-built in the sensory organs, to invert the perturbations caused by certain factors of the environment. This very act of inverting---it is argued with examples from neurophysiology---makes perception possible.
    3. What is the nature of the mechanism that enables a complex organization to adapt to the surrounding environment? Adaptation of a complex organization to an environment is interpreted as a function of its ability to invert the changes (perturbations) introduced by the environment. Systems that lack the capacity to invert the introduced changes remain perturbed permanently, thus losing their identity. It is argued that since the maintenance of the identity is a characteristic feature of autopoietic organizations, the mechanism of structural couplings must have this feature of invertibility.
    4. What is the nature of the mechanism that enables us (a cognizing system) to know other phenomena not observable by the limited sensory capabilities of ours? This question pertains to the problem of theoretical knowledge as against observational knowledge, generally addressed by the philosophers of science. Here again it is argued that the scientific knowledge, which is necessarily theoretical, is constructed on the basis of a cementing (synthetic) relation called inversion. The emerging philosophical view shows how the traditional distinctions between metaphysics, science, epistemology and logic can be diluted, if not eliminated, so as to produce a coherent analytico-synthetic philosophical world view.

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