Life Itself: A Relational Theory

Presenter: Dr. John J. Kineman in collaboration with Ms. Judith Rosen

Participation: All are welcome. By advance arrangement, a limited number of papers and/or presentations may be contributed to this session on topics that directly support the workshop agenda. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Description: Robert Rosen claimed that the existence of life could be explained by objectifying closed causal relations. This is quite a different approach from explaining life in terms of behavior alone. It identifies life with the way a system is "organized" across all levels of causation. In his book "Life Itself" Rosen described the minimum organizational structure of relations between natural causes that could be called alive. His study of life followed along two lines of reasoning: (1) that causal organization can be described in Mathematics prior to quantification (Category Theory), and (2) that all living systems involve "Modeling Relations" that are "anticipatory". He did not integrate these two tracks in his work, but left that to his followers. He did, however, give many hints on how to do it, one being his diagram of a "Metabolism-Repair (M-R) System", another his concept of “modeling relations”. He explained that such systems cannot exist within the mathematical restrictions we adopted to describe a strictly mechanistic world (the Modernist view). There is a great deal we can learn about nature from this initial work; and following Rosen's leads we can also move forward with developing a relational theory and method of holistic analysis for all systems. In this half-day workshop we will examine the initial steps in that development.

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