Cybernetics • Regulation In Biological Systems • Selection 1

Inquiry Into Inquiry

Regulation In Biological Systems

10/3.The foundation. Let us start at the beginning. The most basic facts in biology are that this earth is now two thousand million years old, and that the biologist studies mostly that which exists today. From these two facts follow a well-known deduction, which I would like to restate in our terms.

We saw in S.4/23 that if a dynamic system is large and composed of parts with much repetition, and if it contains any property that is autocatalytic, i.e. whose occurrence at one point increases the probability that it will occur again at another point, then such a system is, so far as that property is concerned, essentially unstable in its absence. This earth contained carbon and other necessary elements, and it is a fact that many combinations of carbon, nitrogen, and a few others are self-reproducing. It follows that though the state of…

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