The Origin and Evolution of Complex Enough Systems in Biology [chapter]

Erkki Brändas
2017 Quantum Systems in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology  
Recent criticisms of Neo-Darwinism are considered and disputed within the setting of recent advances in chemical physics. A related query, viz., the ontological thesis, that everything is physical, confronts a crucial test on the validity of reductionism as a fundamental approach to science. While traditional 'physicalism' interprets evolution as a sequence of physical accidents governed by the second law of thermodynamics, the concepts of biology concern processes that owe their
more » ... ss to the influence of an evolved program. This disagreement is met by unifying basic aspects of chemistry and physics, formulating the Correlated Dissipative Ensemble, CDE, as a characterization of a 'complex enough systems', CES, in biology. The latter entreats dissipative dynamics; non-Hermitian quantum mechanics together with modern quantum statistics thereby establish a precise spatio-temporal order of significance for living systems. The CDE grants a unitary transformation structure that comprises communication protocols of embedded Poisson statistics for molecular recognition and cellular differentiation, providing cell-hierarchies in the organism. The present conception of evolution, founded on communication with a built-in self-referential order, offers a valid argument in favour of Neo-Darwinism, providing an altogether solid response and answer to the criticisms voiced above. Observation and deliberate experiments instigate rational, deductive theory, formulated in the language of mathematics, with the so accumulated knowledge discussed and contained by the methods of philosophy in general and the concepts of biology in particular. Recognizing the acquired demarcation between the philosophy of science, including biology, and the enactment of reductionism as embodied in the laws of physics, the endwise connections between them should still be profound and significant. Nonetheless there seems to be a considerable gap between the reasoning and thinking between the two distinct spheres of influence as revealed by the dialogue below. Steven Weinberg [5] in his brilliant essay Dreams of a Final Theory. The Scientist Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature avers the verdict on Philosophers and of Philosophers of Science that they often carry notions of "scientific explanation" that are too strict for "real" scientists. This view is beautifully expressed in the quoted correspondence between the author of the book and his friend, the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, who asserted that the book is a horrible example of the way physicists think, and that it reflected a serious lack of understanding regarding the three principal classes of scientific reduction in biology, i.e. the ontological, the epistemological, and the methodological reductionism. Weinberg answered that the main reason I reject this categorization is that none of these categories has much to do with what I am talking about (although I suppose theory reductionism comes closest). Each of these three categories is defined by what scientists actually do or have done or could do; I am talking about nature itself. The present exchange between the biologist and the physicist is not brought forward only to provide an example of the distinct ways of thinking between scientists that supposedly should have a lot (chemistry) in common. The argument does confer, as already stated above, on such questions as whether life sciences in practice can be reduced to chemistry and the latter to physics. Even if merely restricted to chemistry and physics, there continue to be many disagreements, like whether quantum mechanics can fully account for all atomic and molecular structures notwithstanding the famous statement of Dirac [6], without the use of specifying experimentally derived physical and chemical facts. These aspects raise controversial questions about the doctrine of 'physicalism' imparting consequences that justify a weaker ontological hierarchy, see e.g. Weisberg, Needham, Hendry [7] for more details. However, the introduction of biology in this setting introduces an important aspect, viz., it incorporates the physicist and the biologist itself and, at the end of the day, you and me, into the picture. Within this broader picture sits a deeper principal concern: whether, in the science and philosophy of biology, the theoretical origin and conceptual foundation of biology can be entirely reduced to the laws of physics and chemistry. As will be obvious in this paper, it is not possible to advance the case without belabouring the self-referential characteristics of living systems that do organize complex enough biological systems. The notion of Complex Enough System, CES, imparts a new entity that extends the concept of traditional chemical physical systems in that their interactions / communications with their environments follows a teleonomic law that should be governed by an evolved program, cf. the genetic code. The mathematical formulation of this process derives from a correlated dissipative ensemble, which has a network topology of a quantum nature as well as exhibiting a
doi:10.1007/978-3-319-50255-7_24 fatcat:ufl3ebvtorbzhhcfraaiw4bhsi