Is there "Insensible Life"?
To know something supposes an act of the understanding, i.e., when we experience an object or event and then are able to distinguish it, 'gnoscere'. To understand it is to have a clear idea of it, when we assign a meaning to that perception as captured by our senses. When we have acted this way, we have formulated a conscious judgment, we have thought about it.
But this knowledge can be given at different organizational levels of our understanding according to the content therein, as manifested by our judgments. In this way a synthetic judgment 'a-posteriori' is a mere representation of an empiric intuition of an object (or event) of the experience where we do not worry about its origin but of that distinctive ontological materiality present in it . By means of this judgment something new may or may not be added to our previous experiences. A synthetic judgment 'a-priori', on the contrary, arises of the pure understanding and of the reason, a different level. In so far as it originated from an experience (empiric intuition) it is synthetic (as all the judgments based on experience are), and to the extent that I can do without the physical presence of the observed object (or event) to be able to find all the conditions that I need to formulate a higher level judgment (intellectual intuition) -, it is also 'a-priori'. In this way, to what the mere experience teaches me about an observed object in nature now I can add another dimension based on that same experience, one that subsists independent of the physical presence of the object. When meditating on these levels of the understanding we discover, conceptually, by intellectual intuition, an 'apparent' contradiction: that the inert, inorganic objects that experience presents us to the senses (empiric intuitions) gather the same fundamental conditions that the objects experience normally associates with the living things.
Consequently we will have very little to say now about analytic judgments in themselves for they have nothing much to do with the experience as such insofar as the content is concerned, they are differential, explanatory and nothing is added to the given knowledge. That is to say, we don't find in their predicates anything that was not already given or thought of already.
It is important to clarify that synthetic judgments a-posteriori give us a content, a factual knowledge of the reality using non-logical procedures. To this most essential starting point the logical deduction adds another stratum without really saying anything new in the logical sense but can very well bring us to the discovery of something new in the psychological sense. In other words, the symbolic representation of an empiric intuition when subjected to a logical-mathematical analysis can not add new factual elements to it, nor give us a new intuition into its natural state, it is merely a simplification of the complex logical relationships that subsist among its concepts, an explanation of the relationships among its possible meanings. Given man's deductive limitations to figure out all of the existing relationships beyond their common logical content, the use of the symbolic logic will allow an extension of the cognitive possibilities of its psychological content that represent the entirety of their associations.
Any assertion made on a topic as complex and controversial as 'insensitive life' will always carry the pretense that it is believable. This implies the proponent's necessity to communicate in an intelligible way, that is to say, that the proponent should try making symbolic representations of what he means by choosing the most precise and simple language so that the reader, in turn, can de-codify its content and make, in the process, the most objective representation possible to his intellect.
This way when I say 'dog' to my neighbor he has the best possible correspondence between my verbalized thought and his memory of a dog. We say that a communication has taken place without worrying immediately about the degree of fidelity between our respective thoughts. This tacit reciprocal understanding forms the basis of a semiotic 'theory of mind', one involving the interactive relationship between the language sign 'dog' representation, the empirical dog object and the communicating minds.
A brief introspection into the afore-mentioned shows immediately that the only possible correspondence is the one that now exists among our respective ideas on that object in nature that we once perceived by the senses as a dog. Immediately past that event both minds, independently, had presented to their intellect (internal intuition) for the first time, that real object of their empiric intuition in its essence and primary existence, independent of its secondary qualities as the color, coat, etc. At least, now we know that we want to talk about a dog and I will then make an effort to elaborate on the secondary qualities of the object as well as on its actions by accessing higher levels of understanding for the appropriate comparisons.
The most sophisticated reader may have noticed, to begin with, that the author has given little if any importance (at this point) to the influence of social considerations as they may have an impact in the communication, something that the linguists have called 'pragmatics' to distinguish it from two other aspects, 'semantics' and 'syntax'. The present exclusion is more of a practical / economical character than it is conceptual, although one suspects that the communicant's social perspective is more related with the 'semantics' than with the organization level that we seek to develop a little, including the molecular biology. Later on we will develop those other levels of organization.
In this way we hope the reader will realize that the natural ontological object, our linguistic coded representation thereof and our mental idea of it are autonomous entities, the latter one in a higher degree when it can affirm an object existence independent of the of its physical presence. The idea (mental representation) of the dog cannot ever take place without a previous sensory impression originating in nature from the object dog. The object dog is there, independent of what or who caused it to be, if anything did.
A first sensory impression of an inert physical object is instantaneous and immediate and has the form of an empiric intuitive knowledge. In analytical philosophy, by accessing higher levels of understanding, we may inferentially associate their behavior with those of living things according to those definitions we find in classic biology. Can we believe in the results?
Any exposition regarding the origin of such knowledge about 'inert life' gets complicated further as soon as we stray away from the orthodoxy of galileic dogma on the supremacy of the empirical observation as a necessary starting point in the scientific investigation of natural objects; the Augustinian orthodoxy of 'seeing is believing'.
What the reader observes in a sleeping dog or in frozen bacteria samples from the Arctic geological digs is also an inert object to the perception, its alleged vitality is obviously insensible to the naked eye. The new idea about vitality that can be formed will depend on the success of the credibility of the exposition, its success in reducing some theories of the scientific folklore on living things to another general theory of the living.
In this general theory, the generalizations to be adopted have to be first based on the underlying empiric data (sense phenomenology) and be, in addition, logically deducible from those same intuitions.
In the jargon of logical empiricism, it means that the sensory impression or empiric intuition, when being eventually represented as nomologic generalizations, should be logically deducible from the corresponding nomologies of the most general theory one wishes to reduce it to. Said it simply, the meaning of any theoretical expression thus derived has to be related with an empiric fact. We will expand later on how Hans Popper's logical empiricism limits the symbolic representation of the empiric fact to logical sentences. In any event, the folkloric theories on living things and the new general theory should be related in a special form, one with the other. This way alchemy is reduced to chemistry and then gets reduced to physical chemistry, much more compatible now to the operations of mathematical logic that will expand the horizon of possibilities of its knowledge. It is this way that biology, the study of living things, will join that unified group and coherent body of scientific knowledge.
Our position as to the possibilities of knowing insensitive life will also be an intermediate one between the extremes of psicologism (rationalistic or empirical) and idealism (where the contents of thoughts, the concepts, don't have anything to do with the perceptions of the material objects of empiricism or the intuitions of ideal objects of rationalism). It is a position arguably similar to Kantian "criticism" except that the undersigned author doesn't assume 'in toto', as Kant did, an imperious necessity to visualize the world of sensitive objects as one where it necessarily reigns the order, the regularity and the successive connectivity, unless we are willing to accept asymmetries as part of a superior order, as we do.
In this way we avoid, on the one hand, the extreme situation where a type of knowledge, craving to escape the straightjacket limitations of interpretations based exclusively on empiric intuitions, is willing to transcend the spheres of contemporary or possible human knowledge, it would be sterile. On the other hand we wish also to avoid the type of skeptical fatalism that limits our knowledge to the ‘phenomenological’ appearances or representations senses provide, a mere integration of perceptions.
Definition of the problem and analysis.
We routinely make synthetic judgments a priori about living things based on the empiric intuitions that we have integrated from observing their macro / micro behavior. That allow us to formulate logical concepts on that which 'animates' the organic object in nature of a predicate that, 'in arguendo', also satisfies the conditions / criteria that we find in things we find no quarrel denominating as ‘living’.
If we say, "this dog is alive", I don't need of additional experiences, external to my concept of a dog like a domesticated animal that wags the tail and barks to strangers, or that must always analyze for carbon, phosphorus, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur, among other things or behaves metabolically according to certain known biochemical pathways. Nothing much additional is required outside of that concept to understand it. Starting from that concept a priori now we can return to nature and, based on the principle of subject identity, the predicate "is alive" is extracted. The formulation of the concept a priori precedes all of future similar experiences. This is nature's way to store and retrieve cortical information from a database we may call a social memory (to distinguish it from a genetic memory, see Biopsicosociologia, Limusa 1987).
The metaphysical methodology can properly handle those synthetic a priori propositions that necessarily offers an additional dimension to the simple empiric intuition that begins in the senses. The 'scientific' value of this methodology resides in the apodictic certainty that reason is able to guarantee to its synthetic a priori judgments. In these unanimity exists as to the original sensory experience and at the same time, is independent of it.
For an a priori knowledge of a concept of life to be possibly formulated it would be necessary to begin with a search, in the reason, of necessary although insufficient sources, starting from the natural sciences. How can an observer conclude that living objects exist in nature?, i.e., how can he structure an a-priori concept of life? The analytic method allows us to presuppose that such a knowledge is real since, through the methodology of the natural sciences and mathematical logic we are able to harmonize the object 'in concreto' of the sensorial experience with the possible a-priori intuitions that we form internally of the same object. This way 'a priori' abstractions remain necessarily connected with the facts, from which they necessarily originated. The existence, in time and space, of the fact authenticates the reality of the concept abstracted there from. As such, the analysis doesn't require to be deducible from other concepts in abstract, particularly in biology. To intuit an a-priori concept of life doesn't have consequences for the materiality of the phenomenon observed because the concept thus formed refers exclusively to the form of the mental intuition in time and space.
The same thing happens when we intuitively relate the geometry of a prism as we experience a sight of the pyramids of Egypt. The self-evident reality captured by our sensibility, gives us an appearance of the object (without caring about its reality in itself, something totally outside of my possible understanding) and this I relate comparatively with something unknown, its internal intuition. It may be argued whether there can be a correspondence between the 'a priori' intuition and the form in itself; this is a mere speculation worthy of a fiction, imagine an object's pure form modified by the accidents of its predicates! But we should not forget that the abstract foundations of geometry need to be originated from sensory experiences!
Every biologist is familiar with the multitude of predicates that are attributed to a living cell. These predicates don't belong to the cell in itself but to their appearances; outside of the cell they don't have their own existence. We speak about their form, shape, their pigmentation, their locomotion, etc. If we meditate a little we discover that subjacent inside their appearances (secondary qualities) primary qualities coexist as are their materiality, extension, place, space, etc. against which an argument contrary to its essential reality could not be sustained because they don't depend on the appearance of the cell to be validated. The real existence of these primary qualities is not cognized by denying the existence of the thing, like in the idealism, neither can we pretend having gained knowledge about the thing in itself. Instead its reach is limited to correlate the living cell of my perception with my intuition or synthetic judgment about it. In this form our understanding ponders on the phenomena, not its causes, aspiring to have reached certainty on that determination. Who could ask for anything more in the natural sciences?
Of all the observable secondary qualities in nature (using non-invasive technology) only one distinguishes the living cell from inorganic inert matter, the autogenous movement. It is not possible to attribute truthfulness or falsehood to this self-evident representation given to us by the limited sense of vision. Neither can phenomenology alone can tell us anything about the objective quality of the autogenous movement itself.
It is to the understanding that we can exclusively empower to dictate an objective judgment about autogenous movements. But even the living cells could not even manifest that quality if they were handicapped, let us say by the subzero freezing temperature of the environment. Are they in that state to be considered inert matter to the empiric intuition, to the synthetic a priori judgment? If, after not being able to demonstrate either their reproductive capacity or their metabolic activity, can we make a statement about their inert materiality? It would be an absurdity that the experience of defrosting corroborates!
Because of the contingency (conditions external to the cell) that there exists in the demonstration of the autogenous movement, it can not become a pure form of the sensibility with an independent existence in time and space, outside of the cell under visual observation; unlike the inert pyramidal figure that subsists in my thought independent of the ‘similar’ object in the Egyptian desert, ergo, its existence and validity extends with regards to all the possible experience, it is an apodictic proposition.
Now then, the intuition of an autogenous movement in time and space, as an exclusive characteristic of living things (at least in the human biospheric ecosystem), represents a complexity level that we have called the seat of the a-posteriori synthetic concepts [that could correspond to associate secondary cortical regions (parietal?) of the human brain, seat of the correlative sensory experience]. Notice that this intuition or post-iconic memory (primary sensory) neither corresponds necessarily (as an isomorph) to any physical object nor depends on it for its existence, without disputing for a moment its unquestionable validation in its origin from an object of the sensitive world. To classify these intuitions like mere appearances or phenomena of the senses, denying the truth of the object originating it, like the skeptic does, it is also unacceptable.
Regarding the capacity to generate the autogenous movement that we observe in the living cell, experience (technologically assisted or otherwise) teaches us what it is and what it is like, nothing more and nothing less, but never what it should necessarily be in itself. For that reason its validation in 'experiences' outside of the possible limit of resolution of my senses or instrumentation doesn't have nor should have any importance to the scientist, except for those insatiable observers..
We are now in a position to formulate the proposition: 'living things are capable of autogenous movements as a necessary but insufficient condition (for the contingency on the necessary external conditions for its demonstration)’.
Now then, if we ponder a little on the nature of movement we discover that change underlies, like a primary quality, the concept of movement, which allows us to modify the original proposition: 'the capacity to generate an autogenous change is a necessary and sufficient condition to demonstrate the existence of living things. How else, for example, could our predecessors in the observation of the nature have concluded that, e.g., a Sequoia tree is vegetable life? The concept of change in a natural object turns out to be an abstraction of the movement concept as soon as we notice that a change supposes the object (or some of its constitutive parts) being displaced in time and space as a necessary condition, i.e. , a movement has been executed independent of my capacity to sense it empirically, in all cases, by direct or instrument observation. From Heraclitus to the present, did anyone ever doubt of change as a self-evident primary quality?
But if living objects change, we would also have to allow the inclusion of inert objects for their shared capacity of change, although in many a verifiable demonstration of such capacity to generate autogenous movements is outside the resolution powers of our sensory endowment, extended or not by appropriate instrumentation. Like the daily changes plants experienced for our old botanists observers.
From the preceding argumentation it seems inescapable to conclude that all inert objects in nature may also have the capacity to change, that given favorable conditions, in theory, they could also make such change susceptible to empiric intuitions, like it has happened to the modern botanist when using the appropriate optic technology. This is true, from the neutrinos of subatomic physics, the DNA of brain cells, or the galaxies of our cosmos. Even a skeptic would accept without much trepidation that most structured natural objects are changing continually to others of lesser complexity, of greater entropy content. But the reverse may be true under special environmental conditions as we will discuss later on. This is the case for the specified supercomplexity attending the living state as we know it.
The reader may already wonder: Where is the author taking us? The answer may not be a simple one but it has to do with the credibility that we will deserve when we undertake an amplification of our demonstration of the reality of insensitive life, specially if we discard the classical scientific methodology as not being particularly useful in our intuition of the ideal objects, those that are presented to our understanding from the ideas we formed relative to those verifiable sensory impressions in a three-dimensional space in a time past. We may be able to see the folded membranes of 'grana' inside plant chloroplasts but, can we see the flow of electrons during the process of photo-phosphorylation?, can these conceptual, translational electron movements ever become possible objects of future scientific investigations? And we do ask, can the living ever be conceptually representable in a similar form? The dog, subject of my direct observation and the 'grana' of my indirect observation with instruments of superior resolution to the visual experience, can they both be considered as immediate intuitions? The idea that I am able to form about them and their inferred consequences, are mediated experiences where other elements of our reasoning intervene. However the existence of both ideas is demonstrable using the methodology of metaphysical logic, being their certainty more believable than that of the material object that was their original immediate cause. We could doubt the very existence of the specific dog that my senses perceived that particular time but we could never doubt of the idea of a general dog that now is alive in our thoughts, after all, is it not the Cartesian test that I exist myself!
Having warned the reader about the complexity of the subject being considered, we would like to commit ourselves with the premise of not admitting as truisms anything outside the empirical observation, always trying to deduce their relationships according to the necessary order in which they are intuitively presented to us. This way, some things will be considered in a particularized form, others we will try to understand them as a group. By way of justifying the heterodoxy of a methodology that we will briefly put to a test in this rather arcane exposition, we do not need to repeat what Euclid’s already said previously: "My analysis will consist in admitting that very same thing I am trying to demonstrate", reducing the folkloric theories on the living and its consequences (when possible) to other more general propositions that the reader already accepts as valid. When it is not possible then we will join the well-known elements with the unknown of the same species until we are able to identify both their mutual dependence . After all, discovery is a method of invention!
Possible meaning for the biology of the future.
A natural object, like the dog, exists for us because we can apprehend it’s being in an impression captured by our senses; but its existence doesn't cease because now it disappeared in the folliage. A different thing is to wonder what is that object that now remains in our thoughts?
All observable and verifiable objects of our sensible environment have a being and are in existence for the observer and for all. But that doesn't guarantee the same observer that his idea formed will bear a strict resemblance to the same material object in nature in subsequent encounters; is this the same dog he sensed and configured previously in his mind? At least one can say that it is of the same species of material object (in a classification category that my logical thought has established). If later on we identify the same physical object in different three-dimensional coordinates of physical space, we have to invent the concept of dimension, of position, the dog has moved, it has suffered an observable change. But if instead, all atoms of the same dog had occupied the same spatial coordinates in the second observation, and we could not capture any other observable changes, is it the same dog now as before? If we go in aid of our sensory experience, do the objects remain immortal, unchanged ad perpetuam or do they suffer alterations? It is true that we are sometimes forced to use instruments to perceive the change, it becomes worse when we even have to appeal to inferences to demonstrate an alteration in some cases, but in all cases it seems reasonable to conclude that a change has occurred, that change is as fundamental a quality of material objects as are their other primary qualities of extension, etc. By the same token, we can also argue that we had to invent the concept of time to be able to explain to ourselves the relentless fact of change. Time doesn't have content, being, or existence of its own, it is only useful in the same manner the concept dimension was used previously, to define the new instantaneous dynamic position of an object, or part thereof, in an n-dimensional space when the unavoidable operation of change has taken place.
What is this dynamism all about? In the real domain we observe it in the brownian motion of particles in solution and even in the observable orbital displacements in our solar system. That is not always susceptible of scientific verification but can be inferred or demonstrated by the use of mathematical logic. Their consequences, within certain limits, are predictable and reproducible. The theories explaining atomic and spatial movements would be good examples. It would seem as if the natural state of objects is to be in motion. That movement can be, 'in arguendo', a cause or effect of change (caused by the present expanding phase of the Big Bang?). Likewise it can also be argued whether the particulate movements of the kinetic theory are an effect caused by the heat or the contrary? We know that, although the cause / effect relationship doesn't require that both entities are rigorously of the same species, we should not think that the concept of heat is just that, heat never claimed ontological status, only to have an existential content. At first sight it seems that the elastic collisions of particles among themselves (and not so elastic with the walls of the containers that contain them) of classic thermodynamic theory today has been overcome by statistical mechanics considerations. In the latter, the generation of heat by real particles when confined to an interactive space, (as when we diminish the volume of their continent or increase the pressure on the particles without changing their volume) is better explained. Can statistical theory be applied to confined microenvironments?, could the ever present motion become an inexhaustible source of ‘vital’ energy for micro systems like small cells?
The ontologic description of the existence of living things (according to the folkloric definitions) is underlined by a continuous and constant change to which dialectically opposed we find that "living is dying', a progressive cessation of particulate motion? We have now witnessed another dialectic ‘oxymoron’, “change is a constant”! The powerful drive underlying the biological reproductive effort may, for an instant, be considered as being useful to give permanency to certain objects that allegedly conserves a minimum of the characteristic information defining the biological species (genetic memory of the living things).
A critical study of the processes describing an organic " evolution ", from subatomic particles to the aggregation of macromolecules into cellular organoids whose dynamic interactions seem consistent with the expression of those characteristics that scientists define as living things. But, when does the 'animation' happen, at what stage of the process, how, and why? The answer had always baffled and inspired the undersigned author to look for, to identify and to describe that critical moment in organic evolution where the first indications of animation become manifest as an objective measurable impression of a living thing. It has been impossible. Because to suppose that our cognitive capacities about real objects in nature, as presented to us by our sensorium, would explain living things appropriately, without enlisting the aid of logic / metaphysical tools to correct the innate deficiencies of our sensory perception of material objects, is illusory or delusional. As supposing that if I don't perceive it, is because it is not there, it doesn't exist! Do we have to repeat, with Da Vinci "To measure is to know?"
It is not without trepidation that we suggest that all material objects, subject to the relentless imperative to change, 'can' be considered as being also alive, being this quality more perceptible the more complex the dynamic correlation of their constituent parts behave. Consequently, we could not predict the perceptible totality as the sum of its constitutive parts, given the limitations of our sensory apparatus. Complexity is NOT causal to life, it just makes it easier to detect according to adopted criteria.
It should be noticed that language is playing us a semantic trick. The meaning of life in the folkloric jargon of the natural sciences transcends the human being and the characterizing criteria is extensive to other living organic species but not configured in the inert inorganic objects. Conceptually, it would be as serious an error to say that my chair is alive as supposing that the IBM computer that played chess with the Russian champion Kasparow can 'think', or that the nuclear submarine overcomes the man in 'swimming', or the Concorde airplane can 'fly' better than a bird. Man alone can think and birds alone can fly. The simulation by robotics or Bionics does not create identical logical entities in all their respects. Such semantic adoptions can become very useful in the understanding / knowledge of human thought or avian flight but a cognitive representation is qualitatively different to the ontology of inert inorganic objects. The important thing is to realize the probabilities of increasing our knowledge of man, going beyond the empirical observation of nature.
Further clarifications and some relevant examples:
Before continuing in this discussion we'd like to clear out the reader's optics who may already have labeled us either as acolytes of the mechanistic passion or preachers of existential finalism. As it happens in all serious discussions on living things, their essence all seem to transcend the efficiency limits of our intellect, and it is natural that our reason forces us to navigate with the compass of these 'word labels' with their promise of guiding us (without commitments!) in the search for truth. But if we are able to escape from the conceptual sausage into which these labels often entrap us, we will realize that the sensible reality of living things is presented empirically to us like an incessant succession / creation of something new that as soon as we capture its presence, it already belongs to the past, the operation of change. Successful adaptive changes may linger longer (micro ‘social’ memory) and even be coded into a more stable nucleotide 'language' fragment (micro ‘genetic’ memory), the elusive heritable mutations of yesteryears.
However, both concepts, mechanicism and finality, suppose a temporary succession, a process of 'creative evolution' as was labeled by the philosopher Henri Bergson in his famous treaty of the same name, only literature with authority in that theme. But contrary to Bergson, the author has taken the most controversial position that time only exists as an useful invention of our intellect to measure the changes that we sense in our sensory space, unless we wish to argue about a finality in itself, intrinsic to the material object, in which case we can consider change as another species of the same evolution gender that dispenses of the time for its apprehension of material or ideal objects.
When we speak about movements related to living things we are not referring exclusively to aleatory movements of their constituent material particles as such but to adaptive movements towards whatever new microenvironment is created consequent to the transition from their own previous state. If you will, one may speak about a consciousness / awareness (depending on complexity of organization) of the immediate state as foreseen in the state that preceded it. Our minds, used to generate representations of ideas in associative forms, of necessary logical contiguity, contingent or accidental, may determine that there is a linked progression toward a final cause, something like that a natural intelligence. But, as we will discuss later, there are instances (specified super-complexity) where that progression will depend on probabilities not contemplated by simple Darwinian evolutionary models. We will see that the habits of thought, so much mentioned by David Hume, can play tricks on us in our investigation of the truth, that can not be for a scientist anything but an approximation to the essence of the empiric material object and its processes to the idea being formulated about that experience until both approach each other asymptotically or until the identity of one and the other become operationally one as a goal.
Part of the fatal attraction to the idea that we are witnessing an evolutionary process (although it may be called something else) reflects another habit of the folkloric thought according to which we tend automatically to fit the biological empiric foot inside the best available theoretical configuration shoe. If the natural object didn't have a material / formal cause like those we have stored in our mental data base, we could not recognize the object by the mediate processes of our preformed ideas although it is possible to form an immediate physical intuition for temporary cortical storage. Reverberating neuronal loops remain active inside the nested network until a new 'engram' is formed and persists. At that time a new effort is made to choose the conceptual model best appropriate to dress the new impression or loop back to revisit a previous brain network sector.
What is it we would have to improvise to get the best correspondence between: 1st. the true essence of the natural object, 2d. the impression that our senses capture from the object and 3rd. our mental representation of the event. We will make an attempt, but first we have to rid ourselves of some conceptual prejudices that thought habits of classical science have embedded in our intellect.
We spoke previously of the concept of time vis a vis that of change; if we didn't experience the latter, we would never find out the other one existed, the independent but important variable is the change which we can verify empirically or deduce logically. It is likely somebody could in the future represent it like a secondary quality of the essence of an object. As we have said we invent the concept of time to measure the reality of a change.
Another prejudice rooted in our intellect is the notion that the degree of organization of matter, "living" or not, represents a less probable state than that of its constituent, independently considered elements. The Venus of Milo in the window of the 5th. floor is less probable than the sand, cement and stone it became when falling on the pavement, or that the double helix of DNA is less probable than the combination of its 4 nitrogen bases, deoxi-ribose and phosphate. Totally isolated from their natural environment, as it can only happen in an abstraction, it is possible to thermodynamically arrive at such conclusion as an exercise in logic. But the unquestionable, self-evident fact, is that these circumstances, as given in their essence and verifiable existence inside a living cell, don't fit the frame of our conceptual mold. It seems as if the transit of the possible thing--> to the probable thing--> to the unavoidable thing, as given mentally in an abstract-adimensional space, where the probabilities of interaction of the constituent parts are especially those predicted by mathematical statistics and logic, when divorced from an adequate empiric intuition.
But if we arrange the scenography and confine the protagonist molecular species to the contracted space of an intracellular dimension, where very few macromolecules can fit to make possible a calculus of probabilities, then we have to invent ourselves a new calculus! Also, every time that we hear that the cellular activity offers the best example of an extremely complicated and efficient entity, we realize the necessity of identifying a source of external energy to explain the probability of such a complex organization, e.g., the photosynthesis in the autotrophs or cellular oxidations in the heterotrophs. Everything, naturally, resting comfortably in the classic scaffolding of the thermodynamic concepts. But if we rid ourselves for an instant of the mental habits and we tune the optics to focus on the empiric, verifiable fact, of an energy-coupling reaction where the degradation of object 1 (or oxidation, by habit considered as a decrease in its energy content) proceeds simultaneously with the 'creation' of another object 2 (or reduction, by habit considered as an increase in its energy content), it is a reaction not only possible or probable, it is unavoidable! That is to say, the production of a second object of more reactive possibilities (synthesis of new intracellular structures or the emergence of new, unanticipated physiologic processes) it is now more probable than in their previous state of smaller energy content! A ‘spontaneous’ increase in structure, a spontaneous decrease in entropy?, un-accompanied necessarily by a coetaneous, proportional decrease in environmental energy?
Where is the conceptual difference? one may wonder. Simply, the contraction of the theoretical, classic adimensional space of thermodynamic abstractions to the necessary, empirical space contiguity of the reagents of natural reality to create a product, the new object 2. Which possible entity could be mediating the space contraction indispensable to make possible the energy coupling reaction? The incessant motion or the enzyme that we all know. How was it created with such specific properties? Molecular biology has already given a partial answer with Nirenberg’s discovery of the genetic code. And who provides the specific instructions to the DNA (or RNA of the retroviruses) of the genetic code? There exist in nature macromolecular super-complex structures whose individual components need to be assembled together instantaneously to function, e.g., the human eye, bacterial flagellum, electron transport systems, etc. Statistically speaking the probabilities of such specified complexity to occur in time space by a process of Darwinian evolution by natural selection is almost impossible, it may require a previous plan by an intelligent agency, as the work of Behe and the 'Intelligent Design' group argue..
In a previous work published in Mexico in 1987 (Biopsicosociologia, Limusa) the undersigned author has made a distinction between a genetic memory of living things, of the species, and a social memory, also inheritable, revoking the orthodoxy requiring the continuity of the germinal fluid of Weissman and reviving in the process the ideas of lamarcquian inheritance. Hugo de Vries knew about it much before with his mutation studies at the DNA level. Who has failed to notice, to give just two examples, the biggest problem facing today the immunotherapy of AIDS or influenza? Simply stated, yesterday's virus is not the same of today, today's vaccine is not good for tomorrow! Can we see mechanicism or finality in these alterations? Does it have to be exclusively a human finality?
More fundamental still, can we consider the virus like something alive or as a complex animated object, an insensitive life? The question acquires more of a drama if we consider another virus, that affecting tobacco leaves (TMV) which is, as many viruses are, a relatively simple macromolecule that we can subject to all kinds of ordinary laboratory procedures until we get tired, and then decide to dissolve it in an appropriate liquid solvent and let it precipitate and crystallize out for storage in a test tube rack atop a shelf, as we do with crystals of ordinary sugar. But one good day we decide to uncover the test tube and pour its crystalline contents on the surface of a healthy tobacco leaf. In a very short time that nucleoprotein stored inside the test tube before does seem to become alive! It penetrates a living cell and once inside it starts behaving like other living things described, it has movement, a characteristic metabolism, reproduces, invades other cells, etc. Was the inert nucleoprotein alive inside the test tube?, was it a truncated life that became animated inside the microcellular environment? In what stage of the transition, from the inert macromolecule of the test tube to the invasive, infectious, destructive entity we all know, did the qualitative jump take place?
Who knows, perhaps 'life' is a description of the unavoidable changes operating in all inert objects as they become manifest to our senses (within the power of resolution limits that our technology allows us) according to its constitutional complexity?
Are the inert floating micro-particles of powder that move randomly under the light beam (in the Tyndall effect) or anything capable of Brownian motion alive? Would anyone believe it, is it not that way? From antiquity to the modern cybernetic passion at the arbors of a new century, man has always suspected it! Later on we will make a distinction between randomness and chaos and entropy..
The scientific folklore, in spite of the great widening of its investigative horizons and its big technological advances, has to rejuvenate and 'open new paths as it walks'. The classic biology has to adopt new analytic methodologies, like mathematical logic, to be able to shift into gear with other more exact disciplines, the way chemistry did, the way physics did.
By way of a brief comparative illustration, let us see first, grossly, how physical chemistry is reduced to the general theory of nuclear physics; atomic theory to physical chemistry and the folkloric theory of the alchemists to the atomic theory.
When the alchemists of antiquity processed the substances present in their environment using the ordinary methods of chemistry (heating, dissolving, combining, separating, etc.) until further subdivisions produced them substances that resisted subsequent subdivisions without losing their primary characteristics. They knew that they had reached a level defining the limits of chemical indivisibility, something that the old Greeks had already called the atom. But they had different species of atoms, each one with their inherent primary and secondary qualities. When later on they placed these data in a progressive linear sequence according to their atomic number they noticed secondary qualities that repeated themselves along the linear series. Then they made a rearrangement of the linear sequence to form groups of elements (groups of atoms of the same species) with the same properties to form columns or "families", eg., halogens, noble gases, alkaline, etc., a grouping based on likeness. Simultaneously they discover along the way that consistently, members of a given column prefer to associate with those of other columns in definite proportions, eg., the halogens (Cl) prefer the alkaline (Na), to form the abundant common salt NaCl. They discover that this salt when dissolved in water forms ions which conduct electric currents. These ionic species are not found in nature, the most common and abundant elements are neutral. On the other hand they also notice that the noble gases (helium, neon, argon, etc) exhibit a stability that notably diminishes their natural reactivity. Starting from that database, with the help of mathematical logic, an atomic theory eventually evolves --> a physical chemistry --> a nuclear physics, all reasonably harmonized with the most solid conclusions that logic can provide. The theoretical physicist and their logical deductions take for granted the incomplete laboratory findings and fit it into a model containing many non-physical, inferred components.
Several decades ago the undersigned author had the opportunity to conduct some investigations in the Department of Biophysics, Sloan-Kettering Institute, Cornell University in NY City. At that time neither the genetic code of Nirenberg, nor the inverse transcription concepts of Rubin, Temin and Baltimore had been discovered. I had the opportunity to investigate and describe (St. John's University Library, 1963) how an inert retrovirus macromolecule (Rous Sarcoma) upon penetrating a normal, elongated chick embryo fibroblast cell, in a few days was able to transform it into a spherical cell that would not respond anymore to any of its own previous reproductive controls or that of the chicken host; it had been transformed into an invasive, aggressive cancerous cell harboring many potential copies of the original viral molecules, ready to leave the cell to penetrate a neighboring cell and repeat the process.
We published the results but were not satisfied with the folkloric interpretation that the virus had simply taken possession of the guest's cell metabolic controls forcing it to divide more frequently than usual. My intuition told me that it was an infection of a guest cell by another invading 'cell', and that we were observing the invader's division, not the host's. But then, and today, to say that a complex nucleoprotein molecule was self reproducing (alive!) was considered a heresy. We suspected that the microenvironment of the test tube container of the virus was not favorable to demonstrate the classic folkloric behavior of something alive. We settled by just calling the Rous nucleoprotein a 'truncated life' that had found inside the guest cell the complementary things it lacked to become visibly animated.
Today, with the benefit of hindsight, placing things in better focus, we see that the inert viral nucleoprotein (RNA) had removed its protective coat of protein before entering to the guest cell's interior. The naked RNA had to do two things in the new intracellular microenvironment: knit 'de novo' an identical protein protective coat and look for company of the same species, ie., to reproduce. It is very well-known that the interior of the cell has a variety of free amino acids and others associated to short segments of RNA that we call transfer-RNA, ribosomal-RNA and other varieties of free nucleotides linked to ribose or deoxiribose sugars. These molecules have their bonding affinities and well-known preferences, usually when messenger-RNA of nuclear or mitochondrial origin is present. In that moment the micro-environmental conditions are given such that what was in potency becomes an act in reality, the coded information present in the messenger-RNA (in a language of 4 nitrogenous bases) is translated into a new language coded by the 20 a-acids in t-RNA. This way an enzyme protein is synthesized with a primary structure (sequence of amino acids) determined by the sequence of bases in the messenger-RNA according to the complementary rules of the genetic code. Now these enzymes direct the synthesis of various necessary compounds as determined by the unique structural specificity of each enzyme. Notice that the primary structure (linear sequence of A-Acids) determines the secondary structure (helicity), tertiary structure (molecular foldings) and quaternary structure (two or more linked proteins), everything without having to necessarily invoke notions of external transcellular causality. Now one may ask, what would happen if the intracellular messenger-RNA is of extracellular origin and, once inside the cellular microenvironment, it triggers the same sequence of reactions previously described for nuclear or mitochondrial DNA? The invader would simply start by knitting another protein coat to protect itself from intracellular proteases. Notice that such protection was not the 'purpose' of the virus invader. Maybe one can speak of a given intrinsic, unavoidable purpose, dictated by the circumstances peculiar of that particular microenvironment as found in the contracted space of the cell interior? The external nucleic acid messenger also predictably paired with cytoplasmic ribonucleotides and, with the help of RNA-polimerase, was able to replicate itself until the cell exploded liberating copies of the virus to the extracellular space. That was the way we suggested. But the virus we studied in the laboratory was more conservative and insidious and for that reason it could not be detected in the cellular cytoplasm with the help of the electronic microscope. But it was there, in some place, judging by the transforming effect it had on the fibroblastic host. Unfortunately it never occurred to us that the cytoplasmic deoxiribonucleotides would also associate to the external messenger (as they did with the internal messenger) to form a complementary chain of DNA; remember that Kornberg's DNA-polimerase had not been discovered yet, and much less was it known that you could build cytoplasmic DNA starting from a mold of viral RNA with an inverse transcriptase yet to be discovered. The new DNA can stay in the cytoplasm like the plasmids in bacteria but in our investigation, they were not detected by electron microscopy. Much later others described how viral DNA gets incorporated into the host's DNA with the help of a ligase enzyme. From that new abode, viral DNA imposes its rate of mitotic reproduction on the host, transforming it into a malignant cell.
It is not necessary a lot of imagination to conclude that the behavior of that inert nucleoprotein taken out of the test tube, resembled a lot that of the host cell, it was also 'alive'!
If we reason out these events regressively and conclude that the nucleoprotein didn't have to reveal to us its vitality in a sensible way to conclude that it was present, why can we not say the same thing about the ribonucleotides they are made from or the purines and pyrimidines, or the very atoms of P, C, N, O, H? It wouldn't be seriously illogical to consider a natural object, with essence and existence, 'alive' in the same sense, independent of our perceptive capacity to identify the classic manifestations of life! The beings and their circumstances are life, in a wide sense, as already commented previously!
We know that, using a logical-deductive reasoning, metaphysics can demonstrate the existence of an absolute being. Thus now we can also conclude -with the aid of the same metaphysical methodology - that the extrapolated absolute being cannot be an exception. We find this way, logically, the absolute supreme being, neither caused nor created, something Christian theologians call God but the reader may call it anything else! The material objects are lively objects, they always were!
Without much of an effort we can describe an experience where the same polymerization reactions of test tube DNA are compared with the those occurring during the DNA synthesis phase in the living fibroblast cell, fact that the biological folklore gives very different interpretations. It is interesting to observe that, once concluded the phase of synthesis, it is unavoidable for the cell to divide by mitosis to distribute the original DNA and the copy between the 'mother cell' and the new 'offspring' like all living things do in the scientific folklore.
If a 'new life' is not created the original undividing cell is termed abnormal (polyploid) when containing a double dose of DNA. Where did the new life begin? Can we observe the replication of the DNA in the synthetic phase?, no!. Fortunately we can demonstrate that it has happened using chemical criteria (doubling of DNA content).
We know now that one can reproduce the cellular microenvironment in another test tube such that the test tube DNA behaves the 'same way' it does inside the cell. We have even been able to create a design virus in the lab! Actually 'the same way' means an equivalent way, the only thing in common is that both ways required some intelligent agency to prescribe the steps, whether the biochemist in the lab or some undefined other intelligent agency inside the living cell. One may ask , is it needed to place the crystalline macromolecule in an appropriate microenvironment to demonstrate that it is 'living', maybe it always was!
As a corollary of this interpretation of living things, sustained by a reduction of the pertinent folkloric theories to others of a more general type that would lend themselves more amenable to the possibilities of future conceptual development, we will now try to give concrete examples of two analogous situations where the 'sensory perception' of a material fact in the physical environment elicits a demonstrable adaptive response, like the elicitation of a reflex retreat response in a living being when confronted with noxious environmental stimuli, the difference being that, in the illustrative example, the entity responding adaptively is a machine! The important message of both examples is that there exist objects and / or empirical processes inaccessible to our direct sensory perception even with the help of instrumentation, beyond mathematical logic and natural philosophy comprehension that may -in principle- give order and new meaning to the scientific investigation of the future. Unfortunately we will then have to be content with the intrinsic limitations of any answers to the epistemological "how" questions because our natural limitations can't provide answers to the more important ontological "what". As Nobelist Richard Dawkings noted in his famous "Argument from Incredulity", if things as complicated as a watch requires a watchmaker why deny a watchmaker equivalent to living things?
Before proceeding, let us return for a moment to a previous example to sketch 'grosso modo', by way of illustration, the operations taking place in the formation of a-priori synthetic judgments during the development of modern physical chemistry starting from the folklore of the alchemists, how they go on classifying their empiric observations in nature until another future generation is able to configure those experiences of the material world in conceptual models and useful relationships (i.e., atomic theory) with the help of several converging disciplines.
The images of the material objects of interest to these alchemists are perceived as continuous according to the capacity of resolution of their sensory organs. These images are digitized when being transformed into action potentials by cell receptors and sensory neurons that carry the information by parallel circuits to a primary sensory cortex. Here the images are differentiated in a three-dimensional array of layers and cortical columns. The spatial coordinates of the natural object outside the observer has now been transformed into the coordinates of the new space, preserving a formal homomorphic correspondence between the empiric intuition and the succeeding internal intuition, like it happens in the processing of information by the hard disk of the computer. This is the available coded image for the memory of the object (internal intuition) when it is absent and for the execution of inductive processes that allows us to make comparisons of the new information with other data coded, according to their likeness, primary qualities of extension / form and secondary, necessary contiguities, contingencies, inadequacies or conveniences, to mention just a few.
The induction allows the observer now to classify and catalogue the new information as just described. But the same information may be already represented in other cortical or subcortical areas with other space coordinates that separate the primary qualities from the secondary. This way when neurosurgeon Penfield stimulates in the awake patient his olfactory cortex, there will be memories of a scent, if the visual cortex, a color and form, and even a sentential representation in grammatical form when Broca's cortical area is stimulated. The most important value that a spatial separation of the primary qualities ('virtual essence') of an object from its secondary qualities (e.g., color) is that it makes possible the generalization, the conscious formulation of an ideal object. This way, the natural object, the pyramid in Egypt, is transformed into an ideal image of any prism with four triangles whose bases rest on four sides of a polygon where the sum of their interior angles always added 180 degrees in the Cartesian coordinates. When seeing the same object a second occasion again, the new image digitized by the senses will correspond, point for point, with the idea of the object represented previously at the corresponding spatial coordinates in the cerebral / subcortical areas. Any deviation found will be evidence of a qualitative or quantitative alteration in the natural object.
Notice that now we can form an impression of the pyramid directly from the object itself or from the idea that we stored in our brains. Unfortunately, the constancy or perseverance of an impression can also form mental habits (associations of necessary contiguity, contingency, or undue).
With the existence of these space transformations loci in the different sectors of our mental hard disk storage memory we can, when observing the object later on, process the sensory information traveling the parallel channels to the brain (using the methodology of tensor analysis by examining the different matrices generated as the processing of the information progresses in robotic simulations). With the digitation of the impression of continuity captured in the material object by our sensory cells an inductive transformation is achieved when the digits in our thoughts are assigned categories, groups, etc. (we transcend the particularity of the one or few to the universality of all). It is in this way now possible the deductive reasoning that allows me to predict the existence of a material object in the sensory nature that I have not explored yet (extrapolation from the universal to the specific), providing that the necessary and sufficient conditions (defining that probability) for its demonstration are met in nature.
The proof of the model is illustrated by the genial contribution of Mendeleyeff to science culture when designing the periodic table. We can assume logically that all atoms in nature tend towards an electrical stability, i.e., electro-neutrality (atomic number = number of protons = number of orbital electrons) or an orbital stability (when resembling the orbital structure of the noble gases). The conceptual model of the covalent, ionic, hydrogen bonds etc., are thus born, paving the way for the gradual birth of an atomic theory. This theory makes almost perfectly understandable to our reason the 'creation' of a liquid with properties so wonderful and particular as water from things so dissimilar as gaseous oxygen and hydrogen, who would have believed it! As long as you remain at that level of organization of reality, operations are predictable, if you keep differentiating .... into lower level the field becomes murky again.
Ah, but to make sense of its meaning it was necessary to contract the space of intermolecular interaction of the constituent gases. The atomic theory as such suggests possibilities, statistical theory, of a probability of encounter of the atomic / molecular reagents, but only the presence of an organic catalytic agent (enzyme) or an inorganic one, like platinum, are able to approximate the spatial positions of the reagents until they react interactively to form a new compound. What was only possible becomes something unavoidable! Another instance that the calculus of probabilities doesn't apply to a few macromolecules in a contracted space, the only relevant dimensional space for the demonstration of the phenomenon of life. Darwinian or probability theory can NOT explain what is happening before our eyes!
Physical chemistry has demonstrated also that the hierarchical ordering of reactivity found in electronegativity charts explains the affinities of atomic groupings for one another when confined in a contracted space. Why can't the same principles apply to, let us say, the enzymatic synthesis of the double chain of the DNA? In an a-dimensional space it is necessary to invoke finality to explain the precision and repetition of the results. In the contracted space within a cell, in the presence of enzymes, where both suppositions are empirically verifiable, the only possible finality there can be is an intrinsic one, directed to itself, that doesn't require either of the supposition of time nor the suppositions of a Bergsonian creative evolution. The only problem remaining is to explain why, out of so many alternatives at random, the system always chooses to go the same way in the direction of life creation.
The value of this conclusion for the experimental sciences is that it allows us to make mechanistic reductions without having to invoke determinisms or evolutionary external finalities. But, all these at a price considering Kurt Godel's caveat, according to which any representation of a natural object by natural numbers cannot be both logically consistent and complete, we can build a Godel map representing a natural object. First we formulate the symbols or logical sentences that best describes the object, then we transform the sentences to Boolean expressions or their equivalent . Then we select the best conceptual model representing the data, for example, a neuronal net a fast computer can process.
A recent example illustrating the possibilities of this experimental approach was a recent experiment with cybernetics and artificial intelligence conducted by Llinas in 1985 which we will summarize ahead.
We saw in the previous example the real Egyptian pyramid was given to our senses as a continuous, a visual synthesis. The histological disposition of the retina breaks down the continuum as it digitizes the observed natural object and codes the information into action potentials that travel (parallel, convergent, divergent circuits, of repetition, etc.. , see Vol.1 of undersigned author's Human Biology) to different synaptic stations in the mesencephalic superior colliculi, diencephalic geniculate bodies, and several cortical stages (parietal, temporal and occipital) where the information is placed in a special arrangement of neuronal columns. That is to say, the coded input from the cellular units is channeled simultaneously to parallel processors in operation. As in computers, the data are placed in their respective spatial phase coordinates where a central processor knows each address. The continuity of the original natural object suffers this way a second codification when the information (coded in retinal action potentials patterns) is further transformed into a three-dimensional spatial arrangement as described for cortical stages of analysis. Now it is identified the functional relationships among the units in their spatial loci (geometries) according to their properties. For each synaptic station encountered in its path it will be necessary to determine a new set of transformation coordinates. The connectivity at the synaptic interface determines the matrices. The transformations are achieved by multiplying the matrices and other non-linear operations (thresholds). The neurons individually don't transmit a great quantity of symbolic information but when connected appropriately with a great number of similar units eventually it is possible to achieve a global distribution of possible activity patterns (vectorial states). This is a lot more than a computer can do when looking for an address in the hard disk; now there is in addition a content. It is no longer simply the handling of some logic propositions but the handling of transitions among phase spaces, that is to say, as the network converges toward a global result, several hypothesis are combined and compared while the system settles in its state of minimum energy. In this search and comparison the computer information units adjust the neighbor's properties and its own. This is the way a vector analysis of tensors operates in a network.
Although the structural / functional details are not, ultimately, important to the phenomenology of living things, dog or pyramid, the important thing is that their explanation cannot be found either in the individual components or even in the sum of their constitutive components. Although the individual components may manifest to our senses as being inert, it is the most appropriate orchestration (based on their states of minimum energy) what creates in the resulting network the global result that we call life, at the sensory level. It is interesting to observe the same concept (web) at the different levels of organization in nature's ecosystems.
As an illustration of the real scientific possibilities of this method of analysis involving tensor networks, Rodolfo Llinas and Pellionisz (Neuroscience 16:245) were able to explain the complexities of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) as an arrangement of neuronal nets allows a living being to maintain their space orientation while keeping any particular object in physical space continually focused in the retina while the head (or object) keeps moving away from the object (or head). In nature the rotation of the eye (under extraocular muscle control) takes place to compensate for the movement of the head away from the object (under neck muscles control).
The first step was to identify the neuronal structures participating; the 3 synaptic phases intervening between the sensory receptors (in the semicircular channels of the vestibular apparatus) and the effectors (6 extraocular muscles in each eye). The tensor analysis challenge is to transform each new spatial phase generated by the position of the head to the new corresponding spatial phase vector generated by the position of a particular extra ocular muscle such that there is an appropriate compensation and the moving object always remain aligned with the retina. The sensory space of the receptor has 3 phases (see above), the sensory space of the muscular effector has 6 dimensions. The change in the spatial coordinates of the receptor (produced by the movement), specifies the new space coordinates of the effector. There is a tensor transformation at each one of the receptor synaptic levels that precede the transformation to a motor vector (effector).
The truly interesting thing about this computer simulation is that the authors put to a test the mathematical model simulating the pertinent neuronal processing in a computer. They began by studying the neuronal structure of the nervous system (from the receptor to the effector) of a toad. The schematic models based on the neuro-histology, simulating the neuronal circuits, were fed to the computer. The results demonstrated that, at each stage of synaptic processing prosecution, the model conforms to the essential postulates of network tensor processing where the representations are the positions occupied in a spatial phase and the computations are coordinate transformations by tensors. These results are reminiscent of recent discoveries on neuronal plasticity and the role it plays in the modification of neuronal communication networks. For those familiar with the achievements of artificial intelligence and robotics it won't be difficult to imagine the construction of a robot with semicircular sensors standing at the entrance to a supermarket following each and every movement you make by just responding with compensatory movements to your spatial displacements from your previous position. Have we demonstrated a physiological reflex arc, or a deliberate act of volition, in a robot? Stay tuned for the next chapters.
Does the robot of the example have a conscience or spirit able to sense the changes happening in his vital space, to elaborate instantaneous adaptive solutions, more efficiently than those possible by its living counterparts? Can a viral macromolecule get to apprehend its micro-environment and choose the appropriate host allowing it to perpetuate its molecular stock by replicating? Is this observable behavior a suitable criterion to determine it is alive for the biological folklore?
The interesting thing is that these types of phenomena are given in reality, independent of our capacity of knowing it or, if known, they will also happen independent of the reader's consent about their existence.
The scientists of next century should no longer feel satisfied with merely observing the sensitive world while waiting for that reality to manifest its folds and hues, ready to encased inside one of the molds that thought habits have forged, ignoring everything else that doesn't fit in the conceptual mold. The biologist of the next century has to become again a philosopher of nature, to liberate his mind of the conceptual chains of mechanicism or physical determinism.
The history of science treasures similar landmarks in its evolutionary trajectory. Who would have imagined the planetary orbits had it not being for ignoring the mechanical philosophy of the times?, or the electromagnetic fields without moving away from the kinetic theory of their time. As serious as denying the existence of magnetism because the existing theory on the movement of particles didn't provide for it. The chemical bonds between atoms, an extrapolation of the phenomenon of gravitational attraction at a distance, could never have been understood before Maxwell developed its quantum mechanics. It is sometimes necessary to escape your body encasement to be able to observe yourself!.
If we examine an observer's dynamics in front of a natural object, we will notice that the subject leaves his sphere to invade that of the object / event observed. From then on the main qualities of the object can be engendered in a spontaneous and active way from the image that our conscience forms of the material object / event. In a similar way, from experience we can also originate the existential possibility of ideal objects like mathematics, the numbers, etc. In spite of both their empirical origin, they behave as something in themselves, as if certain and autonomous, independent of the subject's thought. The structure of the subject's action determines the object.
The essence of knowing about insensitive life is then, the true knowledge, the approach or maximum agreement of our mental image with the object out there, outside of it. By the subject we know psychologically, by the image we know logically and by the object we know ontologically. By an affirmation of the inseparability of these three spheres, we have argued the possibility of a knowledge of insensitive life.
The most self-evident manifestation of being alive is a capacity to react to stimuli (internal or external environmental changes) in an adaptive fashion. Many a times we have to resort to the use of higher and higher resolution instruments to demonstrate it to our senses. But, must being alive be of necessity a sensitive experience to affirm its existence, should that experience be an indispensable requirement to qualify it as a proper object of my knowledge? Is there a substantive difference between a macrophage reaction when coming closer to an exogenous bacterium and that of oxygen and hydrogen gases when coming closer inside their action radius? The spatial proximity of the complementary configuration of the electrons in their external orbits triggered an unavoidable adaptive reaction (to reduce the potential energy content of the system.) Already Miller, Fox, Ponamperuna have demonstrated that if we add C, N and reduce the interactive space of the micro-environment, we produce micro spheres, coacervates with many of the characteristics we associate with living things (limited metabolism, division, selective permeability, etc.) Is it necessary to postulate a qualitative jump between the abiotic and the living, between the macromolecule in the test tube and the invasive and destructive virus? We don't think so. Matter is res vitae! The way human beings conceive reality is conveniently along physicalist modeling as illustrated by the examples given. We may stop there and live happily thereafter but some of us keep thinking about that specious moment in time where abiotic matter becomes living, a veritable transubstantiation. In this introductory chapter we hope to have provided to the unfamiliar with a handle as to how best to understand the results and reasoning therein described the lab. procedures followed are not detailed. The undersigned author admits as to the pervading general influence Immanuel Kant has had in his vision of self-consciousness.
End Chapter 1