A NEW CLASS OF OBSERVABLES
AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXTEND
Living things are autocatakinetic systems with replicating components. Once the earth was sufficiently cool, replicative order emerged extremely rapidly by the standards of geological time. Following the arguments just identified, the rapidity of this growth is at once easy to understand. Replicative order opened up the exploration and accessing of otherwise inaccessible dimensions of dissipative space, the creating of ew drains for the geo-cosmic potential. This section elaborates the theme implicit in the preceding section: That the means for accessing these new dimensions of dissipative space were perception-action cycles. A confluence will be identified among physical laws, the production and proliferation on earth of replicative order, and the production and evolution of perception-action cycles (Swenson, 1989e, 1990). The missing piece to the argument advanced thus far is information in the specificational sense as advanced by Gibson (1966, 1979/1986) and elaborated in reference to physical issues by Kugler and his colleagues (e.g., Kugler, Shaw, Vicente, & KinsellaShaw, 1990; Kugler & Turvey, 1987, 1988).
Living things are immersed in energy distributions. Notable among these ambient energy distributions are those for which the mean energy content is extremely low relative to the energy associated with animals, for example, optical distributions and distributions of volatile materials ambient to a path of observation traversed by a flying insect or a running animal. The mass term can, therefore, be suppressed effectively in the descriptions of these energy distributions as they bear on the control and coordination of movement (Kugler & Turvey, 1987, 1988). The descriptions in the optical case, for example, are of the spatiotemporal structure-that is, adjacent and successive order-that is imposed on the ambient optical distributions by the layout of environmental surfaces (attached and detached objects, places, one's body, movements of one's body, surface displacements, deformations, collisions, etc.). Gibson's (1966, 1979/1986) ecological conception of information is founded on the assertion that lawful relations exist between layout properties of general significance to the class of new observables permitting interactions beyond those permitted by the observables (notably, forces) normally identified in physical theory (Kugler & Turvey, 1987, 1988; Turvey, 1990). Point (b) is of particular relevance to the present argument. These law-based kinematic, geometric, and temporal properties of structured energy distributions make possible an additional repertoire of stable and reproducible functions for any system able to establish a linkage (Rosen, 1978) between these properties and its own kinetic properties, specifically, its ability to produce forces from its on-board energy supplies (Kugler & Turvey, 1987). This ability, of course, characterizes living things. It has local and global consequences.
A striking difference between living autocatakinetic systems (replicative order) and nonliving autocatakinetic systems is that the nonliving are captives of their local potentials whereas the living are not. If the local energy resource is removed from a nonliving autocatakinetic system -for example, turning off the heat in the B6nard experiment-then the system "dies." When the local energy resource is removed from a living thing, however-for example, when food in the vicinity of an organism is depleted-an increase in activity rather than a decrease or stoppage of activity is usually the reaction. As observed at the outset, the perceptual guidance of movements and the movement enhancement of opportunities to perceive, extend to animals particular benefits in their hunt for, and consummation of, energy resources. In nature, food is often distributed in reasonably circumscribed patches (MacArthur & Pianka, 1966); with respect to birds, for example, patches comprise different trees, different branches, different regions of grassland, and so on. In the most general of cases, the energy value of patches is a random variable with patch values varying in time and with the frequency and density of exploitation. In perceiving-acting, living things hook their on-board energy reservoirs onto the invariants of ambient optical distributions, compression wave fronts and wave trains, fields of diffusing volatile materials, and so on, to search out resources discontinuously located in space and time, and to access, thereby, higher orders of dissipative space. Behind this ability of living things to behave arbitrarily with respect to local potentials and to coordinate their behavior with respect to higher order field invariants is the arbitrariness of the component production process (Swenson, 1990). Replicative ordering requires a set of internal constraints that are discrete, sequential, and rate-independent, relative to the rest of the autocatakinetic cycle. The order of the sequences, like the words on this page, or the sequence of base pairs in a DNA string, is thermodynamically arbitrary with respect to the rate at which they are "written" and "read"3 (Polanyi, 1968).
The role of perception-action cycles enhancing the maintenance of on-board energy resources is a description from the point of view of the level of the individual organism. The role of perception-action cycles enhancing the rate of dissipation of energy resources is a description in terms of the environment or field. Living things with the capacity to perceive how and where they are moving, and with the coordinating capacity to move in ways that allow them to perceive more and to perceive better, expand the patches of the planet in which energy degradation can take place. In the terms introduced above, they expand the Earth's dissipative space. Thus the purposes of living things are differentiations or productions, literally higher order symmetry states, of the environment itself towards its own ends.
In sum, the coordination of the autocatakinetics of living things with the observables of kinematic fields provides access to otherwise inaccessible opportunities to produce ordered flow and thereby dissipate potentials at faster rates. The progressive emergence of perception-action cycles and the exploratory behavior they entail, both phylogenetically and ontogenetically, in hooking autocatakinetics to new higher order observables in dissipative space is the spontaneous production of the global self-organizing whole. Perception-action cycles, in the words of Vernadsky (1929/1886), ar the regular functions of the global system itself. Progressive evolutionary ordering entails the production of increasingly higher ordered states, higher -ordered symmetries of the world itself in its own becoming, and perception-action is the physics at these levels. There is no other way to coordinate the dynamics at these levels.
3 For example, the amount of ATP to replicate a string of DNA is the same regardless of the particular sequence, or the difference in the amount of entropy produced in writing or printing two phrases of the same length but with completely different meanings is inconsequential with regard to which one gets written.
The search for similitudes in the present article has been what D'Arcy Thompson (1917/1961) referred t o as a community of principles or essential similitudes. A quest for physical causes often merges with a search for relations between, or similarities in, things that are apparantly disconnected. A similitude has been shown among such apparently disconnecte things as atmospheric oxygen, Benard cells, and percpetion-action cycles. Identifying similitudes is often rewarded by improved understanding in other matters. One example is given by way of summary.
Nearly half a century ago Bertalanffy (1952) showed that spontaneous order and even an increase in the degree of ordeer, can occur in open systems. The requirement, he observed, was that the entropy production compensate for internal entropy reduction so as to satisfy the balance equation of the second law, namely, changes in entropy must always be positive except at thermodynamics equilibrium when they are absent. However, given Boltzmann's claim that ordered states are infinitely improbable, the fact such ordered states are permitted to exist as long as they pay the price of doing business (their "entropy debt") does not account for why they exist. It does not account for where such debt payers, purposively struggling against the laws of physics, come from, or why they are ubiquitousty put into business in the first place.
The often-expressed theme of living things struggling against physical law is an expression of a more general tradition, that of holding animal and environment as distinct and logically independent. The inability to explain the business of living things and their reason for conducting it, magnifies the presumed discordance between the principles of living things and the principles of the world in which they live. Gibson (1979/1986) identified the cornerstone of an ecological approach to perception and action as animal-environment mutuality and took issue with the animal-environment dualism on which most perceptual theories, past and present, had been established (Lombardo, 1986; Shaw & Turvey, 1981; Turvey & Shaw, 1979; Turvey, Shaw, Reed, & Mace, 1981). Mutuality had been expressed with equal vigor several decades before in Vernadsky's (1929/1986) promotion of a global perspective on evolution.
The cognate hypotheses that living things coordinate their autocatakinetics with respect to information in the specificational sense, and in so doing provide access to further dimensions of dissipative space, flag the reciprocal relation between order production (internal entropy reduction) and entropy production. When a thermodynamic flow field produces spontaneous order, the rate of entropy production increases by a concomitant amount; the more order produced the faster the field minimizes its field potentials and maximizes its entropy. If the physical selection principle is that a thermodynamic field selects those dynamics that reduce its otentials at the fastest rate for the constraints, then ordered states are the productions of fields towards their own ends. They are the inexorable products of natural law rather than miraculous debt payers fighting against it. The paradox with respect to the second law and living things is thereby dissolved and the notion of mutuality between living things and the world is thereby lawfully entailed. The world is in the order production business, including the business of producing living things and their perception and action capacitities, because order produces entropy faster than disorder.
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