Chance vs. necessity in living systems: a false antinomy

Marcello Buiatti, Marco Buiatti
Rivista di biologia (testo stampato)  
The concepts of order and randomness are crucial to understand 'living systems' structural and dynamical rules. In the history of biology, they lay behind the everlasting debate on the relative roles of chance and determinism in evolution. Jacques Monod [1970] built a theory where chance (randomness) and determinism (order) were considered as two complementary aspects of life. In the present paper, we will give an up to date version of the problem going beyond the dichotomy between chance and
more » ... etween chance and determinism. To this end, we will first see how the view on living systems has evolved from the mechanistic one of the 19th century to the one stemming from the most recent literature, where they emerge as complex systems continuously evolving through multiple interactions among their components and with the surrounding environment. We will then report on the ever increasing evidence of "friendly" co-existence in living beings between a number of "variability generators", fixed by evolution, and the "spontaneous order" derived from interactions between components. We will propose that the "disorder" generated is "benevolent" because it allows living systems to rapidly adapt to changes in the environment by continuously changing, while keeping their internal harmony.
pmid:18600630 fatcat:ybqhz7b5v5ef7pmxjh6atzmvw4