Sketch Thoughts on the Evolution and Function of the Biosphere

An illustration of sudden, systemic changes in biospheric evolution

Here is presented a letter -written years ago in the reveries of blithe youth- sent to some friends who were, at that time, tying to construct a visual representation, or model, which could assist greater numbers of people in the comprehension of Lyndon LaRouche's concept of nonlinear, qualitative, and revolutionary advances in human economic development, the ontological basis of these advances, and the implications of this identified ontological characteristic of the universe for the investigation of other physical processes- such as the development of living organisms and bio-systems over time. I have made minor alterations to the original.

...A crucial characteristic of biological development and human economy in general is the characteristic of recursivness. The action of any system in the universe contributes to its own environmental requirements for sustenance. The "oxygen crisis" of early biological development on earth is an example. Or the example of mining in a human economy: If you mine a material then the concentrations of ore become scarce and the cost requirements are increased. As you mine the material , the concentrations decrease and more labor must be expended,(then later a new technology is implemented in order to compensate.) ....Look at the function of the basic economic infrastructure of the society. This has a direct connection with potential relative population density and the total area covered by society. Take the spatial scales and expanse of your society. For example a society of simple farmers and craftsmen etc. in the 1700's is a society of condensed spatial scales. That is to say simply that everything is produced in the same general area, the farmland surrounds the small city center were the clothes and tools and other things are made, and no one really has to go very far in terms of total distance to get anything they need. The farmer can just cart his products into town, the craftsmen can just sell to the locals etc. But in today's society everything is much further away from each other, so if farmers want to get there products to people before the products spoil then technologies must be used like good transportation, refrigeration, chemical preservatives etc. (and all that takes a lot to produce) This shows that the physically internal relationships of the economy have changed and now necessitate an increase in energy consumption to make sure everyone doesn’t die. If electricity were to disappear tomorrow a lot of people would die, but they didn’t even have electricity in 1700's and there wasn’t mass death. The example I like to use is that I walk down to the store and buy a chicken today, and I could have done the same thing in 1700, but today, in order for me to do that, a hell of a lot more energy was needed for the economy, so the idea of the greenies that “you can cut back on energy and still be able to walk to the store and buy chicken” is homicidal insanity. So that is an example of what you can temporarily call “an internal characteristic”, and we can see from this the irreversibility in human economic processes.

Recursivness: All developing systems demonstrate recursiveness. A biological organism for example. It is born and it has to eat. So it obtains food within a close vicinity for a time and as it does so it grows. As the animal grows and eats, the food in the immediate vicinity is reduced, and thus becomes more difficult to obtain, but as a consequence of the consumption of those reserves of food the animal has grown, and now it can go further to find food. So even though it was impossible for the little creature to go get food far away from home at first, because it moved towards that goal of obtaining food the conditions were created that not only could it then physically go get food from far away, but it had to. The process (in this case obtaining and eating food) was what caused the ability to sustain that same process inot the future when it was impossible to do so from the standpoint of the initial conditions. Another example: A human mining process- you want to mine something like iron. You begin mining the iron but as you mine the concentrations decrease, as the concentrations decrease you must employ more machinery into the process to compensate. However, the only way you were able to make more machinery in the first place was because you mined and got the iron to make the machines. So the carrying out of the process caused the ability to sustain the motion itself, and now you are doing something which was not possible from your initial conditions. (this can only last so long however, and you will soon need to implement new technology, but that requires the same thing anyway)

Another good example of recursion and it's implications could be the way in which mankind developed anti-microbiotic substances. Or vaccines for diseases. The society produces the initial technology of anti-biotics, as a result of implementing it however you have a situation in the making which will result in the development of new germs etc which are resistant. It would be foolish to say that the drug-resistant strain "just so happened to accidentally evolve right after you produced the technology, human society didn't have any effect on it execpt maybe elliminating the competition of those organisms so they could come to prominence" as the Darwinians would, just as it would be foolish to say that "the concentration of minerals would have decreased whether you mined them or not".

As somewhat of a side note, this (above) example also might give us a sense of one way in which the biosphere functions differently than the lithosphere. The idea, as went through above, that the biosphere doesn’t change its intention when it intersects with human activity seems to be demonstrated by that example of newly evolved viruses etc in “response” to human activity. Perhaps we shouldn’t say that the biosphere “reacts to that human activity", but rather simply find another way in which to express its intention. For example, the biosphere creates a bacteria which we in turn create a drug to kill and the biosphere in turn creates a new strain of bacteria which “fills the role” of the old bacteria (when we call it the same bacteria- or a different strain etc.)- it looks like there is some sort of physical interconnection which the intention of the biosphere necessitates but which expresses itself under different conditions (for ex. When humans intervene). It is the same thing as the phenomena seen with the interesting near 1 to 1 correspondence between the marsupial system and mammal system, this indicates the same principle- that the intention necessitates the interconnections in spite of different locations and physical conditions. Now, as far as the implications of this go in terms of scientific practice, it would seem, from this idea, to be true that if humans were to understand the role played by a certain species in the biosphere, and if we were to come to understand the very specific type of interconnection and effect which is required by the biospheres intention -and thus the reason- for the specific species' existence, then in that case perhaps we would be able to artificially mimic the physical effects of the species through various means, such that the biosphere wouldn’t “know” (or perhaps it were better said- it “wouldn’t care”) whether or not the species was wiped out (with drugs for example) and the necessity to produce the thing which we thus mimicked would cease to exist to the biosphere. In this way, it seems we could overcome some of the recursive ruts which we are trapped in right now with respect to the biosphere.

It seems that there are two types of recursive processes, linear ones, and nonlinear. Linear ones correspond to examples like the animal eating and insodoing increasing its power to eat because it has a bigger body. Or mining and increasing your power to mine, because you have more iron. Nonlinear recursion is the issue of the new systems. The conditions created by the development of one system imply the development of a new system of different characteristics.

Perhaps viewing it from another standpoint will reveal something. The greenies, for example, seem to argue against recursive action implicitly. For example- They say "find the cycle to tap into.". For example "just live off of the land, tap into the cycle of mother nature, don't go beyond your means." The only problem is (as we know) that the timescales of human consumption vs the timescales at which the biosphere can produce what humans consume show that if we were to really do that, then we would have mass population die off, and the rest that were left would have to live like a few cavemen. (not to mention the fact that the cycles which they talk about are only parts of bigger processes of change and will thus disappear). In that situation, no real economic recursion would take place- the water gathered by the cave dwellers comes from the streams, the food comes from the animals they catch (but not to many animals so as to not disrupt the Eco-system) as well as the periodic cycles of rain and wild berry growth. In this type of society there is no recursion because nothing is being effected in a way which would beg the question of changing the fundamental behavior of society, and thus no progress or willful action would occur.

Now I also want to bring up the “fractal” character of some of these processes. You see, if you have a fixed mode of operation, say mining coal for example. If you live in a society which mines coal, that is a paradigm. Now that paradigm is fixed in one sense but variable in another. I explain- if you mine coal as a culture, you are going to need to make and use more of the machinery that you currently have implemented for the job if you want to maintain output. (linear recursion) However you will need to soon make a breakthrough in technology if you are to continue mining coal because even if you keep employing more of the same machinery in the process then you will experience economic attrition. So a breakthrough in technology is required (nonlinear recursion). This breakthrough was necessitated by the conditions created by the previous implementation of technology, so a certain breakthrough was made but it was a limited breakthrough because you are still doing essentially the same thing: mining coal. The more encompassing breakthrough would be to move to a new energy source. But nonetheless you can now do things which were impossible with the previous technology. So every paradigm seems to include a number of potential breakthroughs within it.

From this the question arises more to be considered. It may be easy to limit any culture to a designation of “coal paradigm” or “oil paradigm” etc. And while it is true that the capabilities of any society are bounded by the fuel source that they use, this may not be the final limit, or final paradigm, which bounds that society. Just as any cultural mode of operation concerning a fuel source bounds the society to a fixed paradigm and yet still allows for breakthroughs which enable that society to do things which were impossible at the beginning of the paradigm while still adhering to the same fuel source (paradigm), there can be said to be still higher cultural modes and paradigms within the noosphere, yet undiscovered, which determine those bounding principles which necessitate the ordering of paradigm shifts in the breakthroughs of such things as coal to oil to fission to fusion to matter/antimatter. For as we can see, the matter/antimatter represents a limitation. It represents a seeming end phase in the present higher paradigm (or platform) of operating on the very idea of the need for “fuel sources” per se. But as we have faith in God, we should know that matter anti matter isn’t the end and there is another paradigm “beyond the beyond” so to speak which is yet to be discovered which will allow us to transcend this seeming end-of-progress point.

A new system in human development is born in the old system and is nurtured, as a baby bird by the mother, until it can fend for itself. The physical requirements for initially operating on the new system(the new paradigm) are similar enough to the current system that it can now be put into operation. But it has to have a nurturing environment in order for it to come to perceived “dominance”. For example: Energy from the oil society must be funneled into research labs for nuclear physics etc. As soon as the new mode of operation is discovered and it is decided that it must be pursued, then at that moment it is the dominant system (this is obviously a political question). The sense-perceptual characteristics of the economy may not indicate this immediately, for example coal and oil are still being mined even as nuclear fission reactions are powering things in the economy, but the resources of the society are now being funneled into the research and production of the new technology, energy, materials, manpower, labor, education, etc.- all of this activity is being determined by the new platform of operation, that is to say: This is already the new system! (If only this were the case in the USA!) The person in there asks “well how is it a new system everything looks the same?” You reply that “it is not the current conditions which count, its where you are going, this system is going somewhere different than the last one, you just cant see it yet.” However the physics of the process do put identifiable constraints on when the new platform must account for the overall activity. From oil to nuclear for example: the nuclear platform must account for the productive processes of the society before the attritional effects of continued oil use set in. That is, of course, a policy factor and a cultural factor as said before.

Another question on this may arise concerning the development of the biosphere. “How can you say that there are new systems at all? Isn’t it a continuous process? How can there be discrete system in a continuous process? Are there not animals still alive today from long ago in what may be called a different system?” The answer to this question is related to the above paragraph. The fact that we have new systems in the biosphere is not simply because there are different animals. It is not even that there are different interconnections between new and old species, those are all symptoms of something else at play. We know that the biosphere has increased it's ability to perform work on the planet. While this increase in power can be plotted on a linear graph, such a thing would not show why there would have to be qualitative changes in the operation of the biosphere to account for that trend. However, if we look at the physical constraints which go along with doing anything in the universe, then there is always an attritional quality to it. The only way to overcome these atritional factors is through qualitative changes. Now if one looks at isolated components of a system, say for example a shark, crocodile, or a dolphin, then it isn’t possible to understand how the biosphere has undergone a qualitative changes since the many many years ago when dolphins, crocodiles and sharks showed up on the planet. The dolphins and sharks and crocs however are participating in a system, this cannot be denied, and even though their individual action has probably remained the same since they first showed up, the system of which they are apart has changed and so the effect of their existence is changed as well. It is a simple idea especially when looked at in how human economics works. If you have a certain technology produced in a previous system, like a car in an oil system for example, and your society progresses to a nuclear platform, you will still have cars for a while, but now the cars are having a different effect than they would have had before because the system which they are a part of has changed.(sometimes these things are called “contiguous points/features” of the development process) So while it is true that when the biosphere undergoes qualitative changes, many new species and interconnections appear, and many old ones go away, but that is not what makes it a new system, what makes it a new system is the change in the qualitative mode of operation which is necessitated by the continuing commitment to effecting change and improving the universe (anti-entropy). The intention of the system is what primarily determines all of the characteristics and inter-connections and species of that given system. If animals can play a part in that intention, or at least find a way to live off of it, then they continue to exist, if not then they go away.

With this consideration in mind, the conceptualization of the nesting of different systems (of life for example) in the universe is made somewhat clearer. It is not that one entire set of species simply vanished and now their existence doesn’t mean anything anymore because now we have a brand new set of species which is better. Rather, the intention of the previous system was to create the conditions for the next, and also to effect the universe in such a way as to provide for the material needs of the latter system. Maybe we could ask the question: Did the intention ever go away, or even ever come into being? We can easily say that human intentions are ordered in a way which corresponds to lapses in time- that is, we can say that human intentions are newly created as society develops. For example, the intention to progress to a fully fission platform economy never existed before Einstein. (I understand that it could be said that it existed as a sort of “potential of potential” but we will not discuss this here -unless it can be shown that it does point to something important which these notes do not consider). But once that intention did exist it had very real effects on the universe (but not as much as we would have liked so far however). On the other hand, I think that the biosphere is different in a particular way. I don’t know if it would be accurate to say that the biosphere develops new intentions as it progresses. For example, when the biosphere created oxygen it wasn’t separate from creating oxygen-utilizing animal life- the biosphere didn’t create oxygen and then say to itself “oh look now we can create stuff which we couldn’t create before because we now made all this oxygen!”. Rather, such a design was already existing in the biosphere itself as a single whole process, as a single whole intention over time, which expressed itself differently in different “parts” or “times” of the universe based on the causality requirements arising from immediate physical constraints (for ex. you couldn’t have the oxygen breathing animals before the oxygen creating bacteria). The reason oxygen creating processes existed was the organisms who would need it.(One of) The reason(s) the animals existed was because there was oxygen to sustain them. Humans on the other hand do have a sort of surprise like character to the way they form their intentions- for example- “Holy crap! You can generate all that energy by cracking uranium? Now we can make Fission powered pizza makers- oh I mean- *cough*, rockets- fission powered rockets of course” So in the case of human development everything is causally coherent even while there are definitely introductions of intentions which were not existing or implicit before certain breakthroughs occurred. In the biosphere we see that the whole system is causally coherent- that is, what came in the seeming past allowed for what came in the seeming present, and the seeming present demanded the activity of the seeming past- but there were doubtfully any “surprises”. True, in the human example, the newly introduced intention is coherent with what came before, and, as is sometimes said, it redefined the significance and the effect of what came before. But, it can not be said that the intention was already there in its specificity- it did come as a surprise. The biosphere on the other hand seems to have all of its “intentions” already worked out in specificity- that is, it is not “caught by surprise” in its development as a whole (although certain individual species are definitely caught by surprise when they go extinct -or maybe they really do have a sense of responsibility to furthering the development of the universe and therefore welcome there necessary extinction with pride) This is why I said (see below) that it was as if every animal system existed in every other animal system: each animal system represents a causal aspect of the entire process.

From this, the response may arise “Well if the intention of the biosphere has already been 'set in stone' and it doesn't change its mind form time to time, then how do you account for the fact that there are forms of biological existence which never would have existed if it were not for the intervention of mankind- for example: farms, puppies, kittens etc, they are all states which the biosphere would not have taken on if mankind didn't intervene, so the biosphere cant have its intentions all 'though out already'.” The response to this would include a conveyance of the idea that first of all: The biosphere did/does have mankind “in mind”. Also, it is true that the forms of biology like puppies and farms would not have existed without mankind doing that, but that is not to say that the biosphere changed its intentions, as if it were surprised by mankind coming onto the scene and it said “now I have to make puppies and kittens”. Rather, mankind came to understand certain principles of the biosphere and, as he acted from that standpoint, created new biological forms. For example, in farms- mankind somehow came to understand that the plants which gave him food to eat reproduced by their seeds falling to the ground, so he used that knowledge and made farms so he could more easily eat etc. The biosphere never changed its intention, the thing which changed was the way in which the intention of the biosphere was bound to intersect the universe which had thus been changed by mankind's activity based on his understanding. So we can say that the biological forms of existence which the biosphere creates under the influence of man are nothing but expression of an already existing potential which mankind “distilled” out of the biosphere as to fit his liking. So in a sense, cute puppies existed even during the time of the dinosaurs, but with respect to the dinosaurs they were just potential, and therefore, no cute puppies were massacred by the ruthless terrible lizards. It was mankind which distilled the puppies out of the biosphere, and thus had the new power to experience great joy at seeing a bunch of cute puppies run across a grassy field.

Now, the immediately above shouldn’t effect the conclusions about recursion and the other aspects of development which we understand to characterize humans and life. Rather, this consideration seems to reinforce the consideration that we really are not looking for the particulars or the thorough accounting of the way in which systems develop- in fact the way in which to think about Time may become clearer if we look at this question: If both animal systems and human systems show recursive characteristics in there development in the universe, but the biosphere doesn’t have the quality of human surprise to the way in which it develops, then what is said about the limits of extent into “space” and “time” which a person can efficiently effect if they are acting from the standpoint of creating a new paradigm- and what does this say about the characteristic of “Creator” which is exhibited in such actions? Maybe posed another way: If the biosphere exhibits a complete causal coherence, such that every unique part of its history represents a causal component upon which all of the others rest, and if the development of mankind must necessarily mimic such a coherence as that, then what is the significance of actions which mankind takes which represent such causal components as that, in mankind's development? Or perhaps one more: If the biosphere and human economies both cast a shadow of recursive characteristics in their development, and we know that the entire history of the biosphere is expressed and relies on each part, then what is to be said of the significance of willful human action which shares the essential quality which is demonstrated in each part of the biosphere's stages of revolutionary qualitative development?

Recent Posts