Living Dissipative Systems (Organisms)

[Part Four]

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Free Will

Free Will is closely related to Self-feeling. It probably even constitutes this Self-feeling, and many philosophers would maintain that Free Will constitutes the Self itself. It is therefore useful to dwell a little on that subject.
IF the expositions in this Essay (and in general on this website) about the nature of organisms, including Man, about the evolutionary process and about the coherence between the brain and its functions, and thus -- summarized -- about the ontological status of especially Man, ARE CORRECT, THEN it is, according to me, improbable that something like a genuine Free Will does exist (in the case of humans).
Free Will (which we shall precisely characterize further down) is a form of indeterminism, an indeterminism having (strange enough) the nature of necessity. Causality is a form of determinism. In order to assess the indeterminism of free will more accurately, it is probably useful to start with a short exposition of causality.
Causality implies a necessary nexus (i.e. tie) between two states (i.e. conditions). One such state, say A, is an antecedent, the second state, say B, is the consequent. This means that from state A, state B will follow necessarily and exclusively. So in the case of causality there is no possibility of choice. From A only B can and must follow. If there are more consequents possible, thus instead of B the state C, then we have a form of indeterminism, because the consequent is not unequivocally determined by A. Causality is however strictly unequivocal, and thus a determinism.
We encounter such a determinism in processes at a (lower) physical level with respect to large sets (i.e. large numbers) of microscopical entities -- like for example tossing a coin (which is an aggregate consisting of a large quantity of microscopical entities) -- processes that proceed according to the fundamental laws of Nature.

Remark: So we are speaking here about more or less (sub)macroscopical events. At the submicroscopical level of quantum particles other nexus laws reign.

But determinism will also be found at still higher levels. We find it where states of macroscopical Wholes (Totalities) are tied up by such a nexus, for example the successive stadia in the development of an insect. We also find it where functional structures are present. A functional structure is in fact an instruction (with respect to a certain task), or set of instructions. The execution of such an instruction means a manipulation of something, by which a necessary nexus again appears (between the states before and after the manipulation). Such a functional structure is for example the DNA, but also, say, the hemoglobine molecule, and the many enzymes, at work in organisms. But for all those cases of a necessary nexus at a higher or lower level applies that they never are at variance with matters at a still lower level or at a lowest level, i.e. at the levels below the one where the particular nexus reigns. This means that the mentioned cases of nexus at a higher level are never at variance with the fundamental laws of Nature. Satisfying those laws means satisfying certain general conditions, like the conservation of energy and some other quantities. But this still leaves open a large range for all kinds of possible processes. The ever present initial and boundary conditions delimit this range of possible processes, resulting in a specific process. In this case not only the fundamental laws of Nature must be satisfied, but also other conditions must be satisfied, in order that state A (considered as initial state) can (and must) only result in B, and in nothing else. From D should necessarily follow E, also in compliance with the fundamental laws of Nature, but when only A is present then only B will follow.

Remark: An example of a boundary condition is the form and nature of the spatial boundary of a particular process.

By means of this ' harnessing ' of the fundamental laws of Nature towards special laws, very special processes can take place, even unique processes -- in this case we have so-called ' particular systems ' (See for instance DAVIES, 1989, The Cosmic Blueprint ). Organisms are such particular systems, because a fertilized egg-cell is a very specific and almost always unique initial state and also shows specific boundary conditions.

Remark: Calling the fertilized egg-cell the unique initial state strictly speaking only relates to the initial state of the Totality (the organism), not to the initial state of the dynamical system, generating that particular organism from scratch, i.e. from a collection of atoms. This latter dynamical system is the one that we obtain by following (conceptually) the egg-cell all the way back to its atomic origin, i.e. to its ultimate historical roots.

But what is at stake here is that those more or less particular systems always must satisfy the general laws of Nature. Everything is in line with the ' underlying '. Nothing is at variance with the ' underlying '. An emergent phenomenon (appearing ) at a high level completely originates from, and is completely in line with, the lower level, resulting in unequivocity of the nexus present at the higher level.
What then is free will?
Is free will in the above context possible?
Let us first try to define free will, i.e. let us try to answer the question what free will really should be :

Free will is an indeterminism, because a choice is being made. The process will be determined to a course in a chosen direction. This choice is a free choice.

Remark: In a deterministic system choices cannot be made. With respect to a defined input only one output is possible (the outdegree = 1). This in contradistinction to a game, in which generally more than one output is possible (the outdegree may be greater than 1).

Let us state an example of a choice.
A particular human individual, X, is walking along a road A, and, in a way knows it. This " walking along the road A, and realizing his doing so " we can call the state A of X, i.e. X finding himself in a state (condition) A.
At a certain point the road splits up. One branch of the junction is directed to the left, it is branch B, the other branch is directed to the right, it is branch C.
At the junction, X can make a choice : EITHER he goes along B, and when he does so we can say that X finds himself in state B, OR he goes along C, and when he does so we can say that X finds himself in state C.
In general X passes through a multitude of states (conditions) that follow each other up and constitute his dynamical life-trajectory (not to be confused with his taking a walk). The mentioned state A (= the condition of walking along road A) is one out of his many successive states. From this state A he will either enter into state B (= the condition of walking along road B), or enter into state C (= the condition of walking along road C), dependent on his choice which way to go.
But this freedom of choice means that we have to do with an injected nexus -- located at a certain point of the dynamic trajectory -- (an injected nexus) between two states A and B of the particular human individual, two states, residing at a high level, where A is an antecedent and B a state that necessarily follows upon A. This ' following up necessarily ' of B from A is however not a participation in a natural process (i.e. it is not a part of a natural process), it is not a nexus according to natural law, but a free nexus : From A also could necessarily follow : C, when C was willed. So in this case being necessary does not relate to the possibility of the exclusive realization of, say B, and the impossibility of C and of all non-B, but relates to being wanted. The possibility of B following from A is accordingly not dependent on any law of Nature, in that sense (of dependency on the laws of Nature) that the transition of A into B would be pre-determined by one or another natural law or laws (= initial condition A produces necessarily and exclusively B), because from A also C can follow. The state transition from A to B -- in the case of a free (will) decision -- resides, as has been said, at a high level, but is not dependent on matters at a low level, at any rate not in that sense (dependent on matters at a low level) that only B could follow and never C or whatever non-B.
This special nexus (= the directing aspect of the will) is injected into the series of natural events. Wherever this happens, an act of free will has taken place.

What I have just described here is an attempt to define free will.

If this attempt indeed reflects the matter correctly with repect to the essence of free will, then such a thing as free will is -- according to our results with respect to organisms including Man -- NOT possible.

It has often been tried (also within Natural Science itself) to demonstrate the existence of free will, on the basis of some results of Natural Science -- better, on the basis of certain interpretations of such results -- like those of Quantum Mechanics. But in Quantum Mechanics it concerns randomness. And randomness has little to do with free will (especially with the aspect ' will ' of it), and moreover this randomness only occurs at the subatomic level, and thus at a very low level. There are, it is true, quantum effects which manifest themselves at a higher level (here : macroscopic level), like the fact that H2O manifests itself at ordinary temperatures an pressures as a liquid (i.e. Water), while it should be a gas according to the size of its molecules (so for instance ammonia, NH3), but the randomness of the quantum level does not manifest itself at the macroscopical level.
Also Chaos theory is no way out. Chaotic systems are indeterministic only in an epistemological sense, and that means for us unpredictable, they are however deterministic in nature.

Remark: Probably our brains form, as a neural network, a dynamical system that finds itself in the chaotic regime (WUENSCHE, 1997, Attractor Basins of Discrete Networks, p. 111).

With whatever input, in (the case of) such a chaotic system, always only one determined output is associated. The unpredictability of these (chaotic) systems only relates to the fact that we must, in order to be able to predict, know the initial state with infinite precision. With infinite precision, because in such a system every deviation, however small, of our measured initial state from the real initial state, leads to a totally different (long term) prediction, different from the result actually being produced by the system, a result which will be found afterwards, on the basis of observation.
A free will decision is (if it exists) the only case of indeterminism at the relevant level, i.e. all other processes at that level are deterministic. Such a fundamental discrepancy could only be ' explained ' by assuming a fundamentally different sustaining substrate for that nexus of free will (to occur), and this would certainly imply or demand a Body-Mind Dualism. But such a Dualism is strongly contradicted by the -- already often quoted -- fact of the origin of Man from animal precursors (and more remotely from primitive animal precursors) by way of natural processes.

Remark: Here I can, in all tranquillity of mind, speak about the fact of evolution. The uncertainty is not bigger than, say, the established fact of the Earth revolving around the Sun. The precise mechanisms of the evolutionary process are however still disputed.

From this -- according to me -- it follows with high probability that a genuine free will, as defined above, is not possible.

Of course the issue of free will cannot be considered as once and for all solved by the above arguments. A complete treatment of the subject would demand a complete PHD or extensive webside, book or whatever, and even then without any guarantee for a definitive solution of the problem. Strictly speaking such a more or less complete investigation relating to free will (and also relating to the status of Mind) would be necessary for a Totality theory as presented on this website, but this would expand the present investigation (concerning Totalities, real beings) indefinitly, as it would also happen when we would include a complete investigation into the workings and origin of the DNA, the brain, or of the processes at the lowest physical level and their relation with the processes at the macroscopical level, which (investigations) should all be treated of in a complete way with respect to a philosophy of being (Totality theory).
Despite these shortcomings it is, on the basis of the foregoing, clear that free will cannot be used to demonstrate the existence of a central regulating ' authority ' in every human being, a central regulating ' authority ' residing at a high level, and relating directly to Self-consciousness and Identity (in the metaphysical sense of Essence).

We have reached a same conclusion as with respect to the existence of the Self (at a high level) :
Free Will is only a feeling-of-free-will.
Free will is the illusion of the ability to make choices. But, the ' choice ' originates as a collective (involving many elements of the brain) emergent phenomenon on the basis of underlying deterministic processes. Also here the chain, extended between these underlying processes and the feeling of free will, is that long and that complex and obscure, that the end result -- the feeling of free will -- appears to have nothing to do anymore with those underlying deterministic processes. We cannot follow this chain step by step in order to explain the phenomenon, because of the complex nature of that chain (of processes). The ' choice ' is the result of collective behavior (in the organism) at a low level.
Let us, in order to explain, use an analogy.
The behavior of a crowd (of people) is an emergent collective phenomenon, and as such it is decentralized. This collective behavior originates from the behavior of every individual in the crowd. The behavior of the individuals is not free (ex hypothesi with respect to the analogy) : For example in the case of fire-alarm an individual will go to the nearest well-marked exit, provided that it is not already too much overcrowded. But the crowd as a whole SEEMS to make a choice : At the level of the crowd it appears to make a choice what to do in the case of fire-alarm, namely how it will divide itself over the exits.

Remark :   This analogy, I must admit, works poorly, but this is so because it does not involve enough intermediate levels. And as soon as many intermediary levels are present, we again have to explain the emerging high-level phenomenon (perhaps by using an analogy involving a much lower stack of levels again?).

We can legitimately use this as an analogy according to the following scheme :

NEURONS ---------------------------- BRAIN



DEMONS ------------------------------ MIND


In a legitimate analogy the roles (functions) must correspond, the (nature of the) constituents need not.
In fact we do not make choices, but judgements. These we call rational when they are made consciously (as such visible for us). Often they are made unconsciously, and then it appears that we are making choices. A judgement, be it conscious or unconscious, rests on the evaluation of the outcome of predictions. This ability has of course survival value. Our collective demons make the decisions on the basis of those predictions. We can make these predictions, consciously or unconsciously, on the basis of our ability to set up (in our brains) "if things were so and so ..." situations. If the decision becomes difficult because the alternatives lie so near to each other, judgement is made at a more detailed disentangled level. If even in this case the alternatives still differ too little from each other, a toss-a-coin takes place (i.e. a neural equivalent thereof) and that is what we, on the basis of this latter process, will (finally) do. And, in a broader context such a toss-a-coin is, like a real toss-a-coin, a deterministic process. The choice is, also at a higher level, a judgement based on contextual limitations, imposed by a social or other context.
So free will is an illusion, however a (historically) developed illusion, because it is an important illusion, important with respect to survival.
This Free-Will-Illusion, the feeling of (possessing a) free will, is a quale of the Mind (and the detection of possessing a Mind is also a quale (of the Mind)). It is made lively by the Mind, just like other qualia being lively representations (for example red, under the influence of incoming light of certain wavelengths). We thus get a lively feeling of free will, because that feeling is a quale of the pandemonic decision-making, it feels like ............, while it isn't. This quale is socially conditioned.
The evolutionary complicity between the individual and the culture producing the quale of free will, guarantees that the whole system works, AS IF there always is the possibility of making choices, because that is the model of the process in the conscious mind of everyone. The whole cultural system is evolved around the assumpton of free will and that is internalized in everybodies head. All this with respect to our actions towards the external world. Free will is an illusion, but, in this case an illusion that has as it were become real in the context of a society. And in this way free will becomes : responsibility.
The fact of there being no free will in an ontological sense also follows from the fact that we did not design ourselves. We are the result of an evolution in an ecological context, and dependent on the kind of matter of which we consist.

But with all this the criminal does not get a licence.
In the first place he must, at least temporarily, be removed from the society, in order that the remaining members of that society will be protected against him.
In the second place the detrimental inclination of the criminal must be unlearned, and that means : education.
Just because the criminal is in fact not free, his inclination must be corrected, and this is possible, because such an inclination is not simply seated in the genes. Genes only determine the base-line, the rest can and must be learned. Moreover a jail-sentence could work as a deterrence for would-be criminals, and this could cause them not to execute their planned actions. On a certain level the crime is not the criminal's guilt, because his mental constitution (mental rules) forced him as it were to commit the crimes. But the society around him wants to correct this defect from without, if only it were because of self-defence.

At a more innocent level we encounter purposive action (final causality) in the execution of a plan, for instance to construct something. We observe (i.e. obey) the non-violable natural laws (which we know roughly from experience) and then choose means that, by virtue of their respective natures, fit well into a causal chain (efficient causality) that leads to the (mentally) intended goal. The choice of these means is thereby also not a real choice, but depends on the mentioned laws, and the availability of those particular means, and the non-availability, or the more problematical availability, of other means which would lead to roughly the same result (the intended goal). So the choice is again a judgement, and a judgement is a deterministic process.

When a philosopher reads all the above arguments regarding the problem of free will, he could object that most of it is done along more or less physical lines. He would like to see a philosophical argument. There exist many such arguments, but they all have, according to me, something important in common. Therefore it is sufficient to discuss just one such argument (Restricting ourselves to discuss only one such argument is also legitimate because free will is not the website's main topic).

A 'philosophical' versus physical approach to the problem of free will

In the above discussions we have made an attempt to demonstrate that free will is only possible if one allows the possibility of a non-physical element to be injected into (an otherwise) physical chain of cause and effect. All this boils down to a demonstration that the possibility of free will implies the existence of two ontologically different domains :   material existence ('Nature') and immaterial existence ('soul', 'spiritual existence').
When this ontological dualism is presupposed the possibility of free will is directly implied (according to what has been said above).
And this, i.e. the derivation of free will from dualistic presuppositions, is the very kernel of an 'alternative approach' to the problem of free will, i.e. alternative with respect to what we did above. One could perhaps say a philosophical versus a physical approach. Most philosophers will, I assume, when reading our account of free will, demand such an approach. But this so-called philosophical approach does not in fact investigate whether there can be such a thing as free will, because a supposed dual nature of Reality directly implies the possibility of free will (or, if not, the latter is easily derived), while it is not investigated whether Reality actually is of such a dual nature, it is just stipulated.
We know for certain that Man arrived on the scene only at the last moment of the Earth's long history. We also know about the many physico-chemical processes in our body and also in our brains. So (intervening) immaterial phenomena, if they occur at all, are of relatively recent origin and seem only to be scantily scattered over, and in, an overall physical matrix. So the burden of proof is for those who presuppose the possibility of intervening immaterial phenomena. But as far as I know, nobody has undertaken this task.

A typical example of the just mentioned philosophical approach to the problem of free will, an approach in which the ontological duality of Reality is presupposed (without having it investigated), is an essay on The metaphysical basis of freedom, written in 1946 by B. BARENDSE O.P., and anew published in a collection of his philosophical essays called To think oneself through life (published in Dutch :   Dr. B.A.M. BARENDSE O.P., 1982, Zich door het leven heen denken. Hoofdstuk I Metafysica. De metafysische gronslagen der vrijheid).
In this essay we can see how such a philosophical approach works.

Absence of freedom is normally seen as equivalent to the phenomenon of regularity. Regularity suggests a definite nexus between certain events, or, conditions and (subsequent) events. While discussing HUME, BARENDSE admits that HUME is right about the absence of freedom in natural events. But HUME, BARENDSE says, is not right by deriving absence of freedom from the phenomenon of regularity just like that :   The natural world has no freedom because it is not active with respect to itself, it did not create itself, implying that regularity is imposed upon it. So the absence of freedom should be derived from the passivity of regularity, not from regularity itself. Mind on the other hand, is active with respect to regularity. It can create (think) essences and is therefore free towards regularity (p. 30).
It is clear that here the ontological duality of nature and mind is already presupposed.
Next BARENDSE discusses the relationship between regularity and necessity. He distinguishes between two types of necessity :
Something is necessary that cannot not be. This necessity only excludes pure nothingness, and includes all types of beingness. BARENDSE calls it eloquently "necessity of wealth".
A second type of necessity expresses the phenomenon of not being able to be different. In this case it is not a matter of excluding the negative not-being but only the exclusion of the positive being-different. This second type of necessity applies to 'limited' or 'restricted' things, the being of which assumes a certain form (i.e. a certain whatness or quality), for example to be a human or a stone, and whose not-being is no pure negation but a concretization of certain different ways of being. That thing, what is necessary according to this second type apparently is imperfect, because it excludes "the different", i.e. it excludes a different version of that thing. It has being only in a partial way. BARENDSE calls it "necessity of poverty".
Of course material things can become different, they are changeable, so in this way they are in principle open towards everything else and not displaying any necessity of poverty. What is meant, however, by saying that something can be different, is the ability to unite, simultaneously, a different actuality with the thing's own actuality. And here the thing in question is the mind. The mind can contain not only its own form (forma) but also simultaneously that of something else (This is supposed to happen in the case of thinking).
Matter on the other hand, is limited to its own form (forma). (BARENDSE, p. 31).
So mind stands out by having necessity of wealth.
But such an assertion just depends, according to me, on a vague analogy :   The mind, being able to be something else, in fact only refers to the ability to represent in it things other than itself. It is not those other things, it only encodes them (using neurological symbols).
BARENDSE concludes that the more something has necessity of poverty, i.e. the more it is changeable (because it cannot be something else at the same time), the less it has necessity of wealth, and vice versa.
The same applies, according to BARENDSE, to determination. We have a case of determination in virtue of wealth, and another case of determination in virtue of poverty.
Things belong to a hierarchy of order, in the sense that there are more, or less, perfect things. A perfect thing, however, possesses all what is possessed by a lower thing, but in addition to that it is more perfect. The perfect things include the less perfect aspects of lower things.
Insofar as something is regular, i.e. insofar as it is in virtue of its essence, it is necessarily. Essence is the basis of being. And insofar as something is, it is necessarily. So essence implies regularity, and the presence of regularity points to the presence of an essence and of a necessity.
Well, according to BARENDSE, HUME is right about this, but he is wrong to apply this regularity principle to all cases in the same way. That's why his derivation of the absence of freedom in Man from the regularity of human reactions has failed. The essence of material things is, as essence, different from that of immaterial things (p. 33). Essence in general is the basis of being, i.e. it is that something that causes a thing to be suitable to exist. Some essences, however, namely the material essences, restrict things, i.e. restrict the things having such essences, while (still) causing them to be in the order of existence. The immaterial essence on the other hand, does not imply this effect of restricting. In virtue of an immaterial essence a thing is surely something definite and distinguished from something else, but not in such a way that it excludes the "different" (i.e. not in such a way that it excludes it to be different at the same time).
The degree of being, that is provided by such an immaterial essence, is in principle unlimited (p. 33). That's why an immaterial being can know :   It can identify itself with the "different" (with its object of knowledge), without itself becoming something else.
So a given material thing necessarily has only its particular set of properties. When it aspires to have other properties, it has to become something else.
Not so with the mind (as an immaterial thing) :   It can acquire different properties without thereby becoming something else. And it is this ability to be a potential multitude without giving up its identity, that is the essence of free will. In such a way the mind is not restricted to a definite repertoire of actions or attitudes, but can choose between many such repertoires. The mind's unity allows for multiformity, while a material thing's unity does not. The free cause is undetermined (to give a certain effect) because there is a profusion of possible effects. The free cause surpasses a single effect. It is a causa analoga, in contradistinction to the causa univoca of material things. The latter is a second-order cause (p. 35).
It is again clear that all this is based on the presupposed duality between nature and mind, and it is this duality that ought to be demonstrated in order for us to be able to prove the existence of a free will.

Summary of the Expositions concerning the Totality nature of Organisms including Man

We are now able to give an account of a Substance-Accident Metaphysics partially based on dynamical systems theory, and including Man. Including Man, because we found out that Man does not differ ontologically from other beings. The only difference is a difference of degree, and this means a difference of complexity. The latter is especially manifested by the quales Mind, Self and Free Will (or better, Self-feeling and feeling-of-free-will) generated by the brain.

Metaphysics and Dynamical Systems

Metaphysics generally is about principles of being. On this website we concentrate on the principles of an individual being (thing) as such. Such principles are established by Classical Metaphysics : Prime Matter is the ultimate substrate of change (of a thing, for example an organism). It can receive one or another Substantial Form. The Substantial Form (of a thing) is considered as the principle of the content of the thing. This content itself is visible in the form of determinations (called ' Accidents ' in Classical Metaphysics). Some Accidents, together with Prime Matter (in-forming Prime Matter in a certain way) constitute the principle of individuation.
Especially organisms show successive determined stages of individual development, and this succession can be interpreted as a continuous transition of potential being into actual being.
On this website all this is placed in the context of dynamical systems, and the present Essay is about organisms.
In this interpretation an individual organism is a Totality (= an intrinsic totality of elements and determinations, forming a whole) generated by a dynamical system. The dynamical law of that system is considered as the Essence (specific Identity) of that organism. Penultimately this law resides in and around the DNA. Ultimately it resides in the participating atoms, and as such expresses the historical nature of organisms (because the way back to those atoms is a very long one indeed).
The penultimate initial state of an organism is the fertilized egg-cell or -- in primitive or aberrant organisms -- the equivalent of it.
The ultimate initial state of the organism lies far back in the past : organisms are utterly historical entities. In fact it is not the (ultimate) initial state of the organism, the Totality, but of the dynamical system, subsequently generating that Totality. This ultimate initial state is the relevant set of atoms. Such a set contains many possible dynamical laws, one of them will ' crystallize ' and generate the particular organism, depending on certain conditions. What we have just described is a ' reconstruction ' of the general process leading up to the formation of the organism, a reconstruction (done) after the fact. The result is a conceptual dynamical system, that can be considered as having generated the organism directly -- but of course via a long series of more or less conceptual stages -- from freely existing atoms.

The organic Totality is situated in two types of environment : The system-domain and the outer environment.
The system domain comprises the developing Totality itself plus all the surrounding entities (generally molecules) which participate, or are going to participate, in the generation and development of the Totality.
All things (generally molecules) which are not thus participating are considered as (belonging to) the outer environment of the dynamical system. When they interact with the Totality, then they must be considered as (causing) perturbations of that Totality, which could cause it to become unstable.
It is clear that the two environments interpenetrate each other spatially.

Substantial Form, Substance, Totality

For something to be in a certain state implies a process, because a state is a stadium of a process. But a process can only occur in the Real World (in contradistinction to the Ideal World, See for this distinction the beginning of the Essay on the Universal), i.e. a process implies a real way of being.
The dynamical law is the foundation of a deterministic series of successive process states, and is moreover the foundation (Essence) of a Totality when this is generated by the system. In this way real things (beings) are being produced, among them organisms. But organisms do not seem to be such neat Totalities like Atoms, Molecules and Crystals. Organisms show degrees with respect to their being Totalities, sometimes looking more like colonies of Totalities, and often showing phenomena like metamorphosis. They also are confined within a more or less determined life-span, and moreover are open systems.
Let us dwell a little longer on the UNITY of an organic Totality and its degrees :
The unity of a being can be twofold : numerical unity and internal unity. Every process state is a here-and-now individual (semaphoront) of (i.e. as element of) a series of successive process states, which can differ appreciately from each other phenotypically, as we can see in the case of the metamorphosis of Holometabolic Insects. A complete series of semaphoronts forms the historical individual. Especially in the case of Organisms this is a very definite series.

The dynamical law is immanent and reflects certain properties of the system elements. It does however not reflect all properties of the system elements. The dynamical law (governing a Totality-generating dynamical system) is the ontological (specific) Identity of the particular individual Totality. The (ultimate) dynamical law is not immaterial, but abstract. The immanent nature of the dynamical law implies physical matter . Physical matter implies a metaphysical Matter-Form constitution of the thing (the being, the Totality). The dynamical system, and the Totality generated within its confines, is however constantly being perturbed by agents from the environment of the system, but those perturbations will, especially in the case of Organisms, generally be neutralized during a certain time, until certain changes, caused by them, are such that a certain degree of disintegration of the Totality takes place resulting in the conditions being such that the dynamical law is no longer valid, i.e. that with those changes -- within and without the Totality -- we end up beyond the range of validity of the dynamical law, resulting in another law (or laws) becoming valid, i.e. become active, and this generally leads to the further disintegration of the Totality and a transition to an Aggregate. In the case of organisms this implies the phenomenon of dying because of the lessening capacity for immunization.

The role played by the environment does not solely consist in perturbations to occur. An organism is, thermodynamically, an open system, i.e. a system far from thermodynamical equilibrium, and this means that an organism does not find itself in an energy minimum, like crystals do. Only then, work can be done in and by the organism. In order to maintain such a state of far-from-equilibrium the organism must be in such an environment that sustains influx and efflux of matter and energy. Only then the organism can keep on functioning, and consequently keep on existing.

During the succession of system states the dynamical law remains constant, so this succession is an accidental change. A process state or condition (of the system) accordingly is an accident in relation to the dynamical law. But when the dynamical law is not valid anymore, resulting in the appearance (execution) of one or more new (i.e. different) laws, then we have to do with a substantial change. The dynamical law in the form of a fully implemented law is the Substance (The here-and-now configuration of system elements -- which contains the dynamical law, i.e. in which the dynamical law is implemented -- is just a system state, and is per accidens with respect to the dynamical law). The possibility of substantial change, especially of radical change, implies a Matter-Form constitution of the Substance : every Substance is a Matter-Form Composite, because change -- including radical change -- implies two aspects in every such being : a remaining aspect or substrate, and an aspect which can be replaced by another. Said differently, the substrate can successively receive different Forms, and so letting the thing (i.e. something ) change. Matter, the substrate of radical change, is Prime Matter, it is without any content, it is the ultimate substrate for replaceable Forms.
When we consider the dynamical law formally, for example as a formula, then it is the Substantial Form. As such it is an Idea (i.e. an inhabitant of the Ideal World). If the particular dynamical law and the initial condition are given, then the next states will follow in the form of a determined succession, and thus a necessary succession. So those states will be realized. But this will only take place when the system is not structurally disturbed (by external agents). " Structurally disturbed " in this context means the replacement of the dynamical law by another law. Before these states are thus realized, they exist only potentially. After the generation of such states is accomplished, they exist actually. In the case of Organisms this is clearly visible. They pass through a succession of stadia, leading from the (fertilized) egg(cell) to the adult stage. The developing organism is thus in potency with respect to subsequent stages. This potency ultimately stems from Prime Matter. Prime Matter is itself pure potency with respect to any content. It can receive (i.e. be the substrate of) different substantial forms in the case of radical change, but it can also communicate its potency to already constituted matter-form composites resulting in the mentioned potency for subsequent stages (in these the substantial form remains the same). In fact Prime Matter communicates changeability, and thus (a certain degree of) instability, to all material substances. The possibility, and indeed the very existence, of dynamical laws, inhering in physical matter, is based on this, and so implying the possibility of the future generation of things not yet existing. So a distinction can and must be made between being-potentially and being-actually. These concepts play a significant role in the Substance-Accident Metaphysics.

We have just outlined a metaphysical interpretation of a Totality, including the organic Totality, in the context of dynamical systems. Clearly it is a general exposition. In fact such a general exposition, COVERING ALL REAL BEINGS, is now finally legitimate, because we have demonstrated that there are no beings that exhibit a deviating ontology. The constitution of Man was a good candidate for such a deviating ontology, but my investigation has -- I hope -- demonstrated that Man wholly belongs to the natural order, and that by consequence his ONTOLOGICAL CONSTITUTION is not fundamentally different from that of all other real beings. So it is now possible to present a homogeneous and general Substance-Accident Metaphysics as we have outlined above.
In order to show in what way we must metaphysically assess Man, an assessment which should express his -- now legitimate -- incorporation into a general Substance-Accident Metaphysics which includes all other living beings and moreover all inorganic beings, we shall, in a way, repeat the foregoing but now explicitly speaking about Man [ See also the Essay (in the Classical Series) What is an Individuum? Part III, Subsection Individuum as Semaphoront ].

Man:   his being a Human individual, and his having a Substantial Form, the Classical and Revised View

According to the classical scholastic view the Essence of Socrates is : HUMANITY.
HUMANITY is the name for that something (i.e. that principle) that determines Socrates to be a human. Said differently HUMANITY is that something in virtue of which Socrates is a human. HUMANITY as received into Prime Matter is the Substance, and HUMANITY taken in itself is the Substantial Form.
But we have found out that ' things ' like HUMANITY are characterizations on a high level and thus having a secondary nature. They are universals and as such they are just mental signs which each for themselves refer to a multitude of similar ' things ' residing in the Real World (if they refer to other mental signs then they are logical intentions). Similarity in objects generates in our Mind universals.
The Identity (Essence) is seated at a low level : The Dynamical Law. The dynamical law generates the high-level features, and, via the brain, the Self-feeling and the feeling of Free Will (also high-level features). These high-level features together constitute humanity. Like all high-level features the Self-feeling is a secondary phenomenon. It does not point to a fundamental regulating ' authority '. At the very most it refers very indirectly and implicitly to the dynamical law.
The dynamical law is the Identity of Socrates (Plato is the product of another dynamical law). Monovular twins have identical DNA, so their penultimate law or structure is identical and so their ultimate dynamical laws are expected also be the same. They differ however accidentally.
Socrates is a generated Totality, generated by a particular dynamical system governed by the ' Socrates-dynamical-law '.
Socrates-at-a-certain-point-in-time-in-his-dynamical-system-domain, i.e. Socrates + his dynamical context, is a Totality-at-a-certain-point-in-time-in-its-dynamical-system-domain, i.e. a Totality + its dynamical context, and is a process stadium or system state, and, accordingly, as such an accident. See NOTE 1..
Socrates-at-a-certain-point-in-time is a Totality-at-a-certain-point-in-time, it is a Totality stadium, and as such a part of the corresponding system state, and can also be denoted as an accident, because Socrates-at-a-certain-point-in-time is followed by Socrates-at-a-next-point-in-time, and this is different from the previous, while the Socrates-dynamical-law has stayed the same (See also NOTE 1.).
The dynamical law, when (already) implemented in matter, is the concrete dynamical law. When this matter is the matter of the generated Totality, then the dynamical law, insofar as it is inherent in this matter, i.e. comprising this matter, is the Substance (s.str.). The Socrates-dynamical-law can be transformed into one or more other laws resulting in the disappearance of the Identity. This is the possibility of radical change in Socrates (this happens when he dies), expressed by his Matter-Form constitution (i.e. Prime Matter and Substantial Form). The Socrates-dynamical-law in its formal aspect is the Substantial Form of Socrates.
The penultimate dynamical law (in the form of a structure) of Socrates is seated in and around his DNA. The ultimate dynamical law is seated (a long way back) on the level of the atoms.
A species is determined by the ultimate dynamical law. This law generates (or, more or less equivalently expressed : constitutes) the penultimate structure (DNA + direct biochemical environment). Different ultimate dynamical laws constitute different species.
Individuation takes place on the basis of unterminated dimensional quantity (See the Essay on The Principle of Individuation). These unterminated dimensions provide the possibility (not yet the realization) of having some position in space-time and having a spatial unity and a continuity in time. The terminated dimensional quantity finally realizes the here-and-now individual.
Plato and Socrates have a different penultimate structure, and this points to having different ultimate dynamical laws, and accordingly belong to different species (" species " here in its metaphysical sense, namely the (unanalyzed) definition of a being, signifying its Essence). Monovular twins, for example Socrates1 and Socrates2, possess the same penultimate structure, and by consequence the same ultimate dynamical law, the Socrates-dynamical-law. So their (specific) Essence is the same. But they differ in space-location, guaranteed by dimensional quantity. That's why they are each subjected to different perturbations from the environment, resulting in their becoming phenotypically different. Especially the development of their respective brains will not be identical (because of their different postnatal development), contributing their bearers to become different persons. These differences between Socrates1 and Socrates2 constitute their personal aspects.
Socrates-as-a-person (now speaking about the historical Socrates), considered insofar as he feels himself as being a person, staying the same during changing conditions, is a (mental) quale. The quale ' I ' is an aspect of the space-time coherence of the semaphoronts (= here-and-now individuals), made lively by the brain : each process-state of the Totality is a semaphoront, and the whole series of semaphoronts constitutes the historical individual. And this space-time coherence is the only objective aspect of and in this quale.
The Totality concept based on the dynamical law implies that Socrates is not only numerically another Substance than Plato, but also with respect to content. This corresponds to the Nominalistic position, where the individual is considered to be prime anyhow, and where every individual is said to be totally different from any other. But this correspondence is just by accident, it is not fundamental : although Socrates is, to be sure, not actually repeated in the Real World, he could in principle be repeated, namely in the case of monovular twins. Socrates1 and Socrates2 then possess the same dynamical law, but are different individuals (they are separated expressions of one genotype). But they still can be signified by the (now) common name SOCRATES, wherby SOCRATES ultimately refers to their common Essence. The possibility of such a common Essence, existing in several individuals, is denied by Nominalism, maintaining, as has been said, that every individual is different (also with respect to content) from any other individual, be they of the same species or not. Individuals could at most be similar to each other, not equal (with respect to content), according to Nominalism. My exposition of the relation of individual to species does not differ from classical metaphysics of, say St Thomas (and so does differ from Nominalism of, say OCKHAM), it only steps one level down : Second Substance (of, say Socrates), logically expressed by the term S p e c i e s, does not refer anymore to MAN (like in Classical Metaphysics), but to Socrates. Socrates is a species, and the historical Socrates happens to contain only one individual, that we could call Socrates1. By consequence MAN (considered as Species by Classical Metaphysics) is now to be considered as a Genus.
Similar dynamical laws will most probably generate similar Totalities, and this is the basis for the universal (term) MAN, which is a genus. A genus is established on the basis of similarity only, while a species (in the metaphysical sense) is established on the basis of (supposed) identical dynamical laws (identical specific Essence). Different perturbations of Totalities, governed by the same dynamical law, can lead to different per accidens determinations of those Totalities.
The ultimate dynamical law generates -- by means of the penultimate structures -- the diverse functional levels of the organism, by creating structures that can execute diverse organic functions. One such a structure is the brain, and it executes the function that we generally call Mind. So Mind is just one out of the many organic functions, it is by consequence not a principle but a process.
By concentrating on the dynamical law as the Essence of the thing (organic or inorganic) we leave behind us the classical homonymous ' Prinzipien-forschung ' in which the Soul of Socrates -- in classical metaphysics denoted by the humanity of Socrates -- would be the Essence of Socrates. The relevant principle resides at a lower structural level than that-something of which it is the principle.

Having successfully incorporated Man into a General Substance-Accident Metaphysics, it is now possible to pursue the Totality theory of Organisms (now smoothly including Man) a little further, and go into some important details which relate to organisms in general.

A Model of the Ageing and Dying of Organisms, in terms of Dynamical Systems

The ageing, and as a consequence of it, the dying, of individuals of every organic species, takes place in a (in principle) repeatable and systematic way, and so must somehow relate to the dynamical law and therefore be liable to a description in terms of dynamical systems.
We shall try to do this.

Remark: This exposition concerns dying as a consequence of the ageing-process. Most organisms however die long before that, they die by hunger or predation. But in the present (metaphysical) context the latter way of dying wholly belongs to the accidental domain, and is accordingly of no relevance for our theory.

From the external environment much influence is exerted on the dynamical system. In addition to temperature, pressure, moisture and the like there are chemical agents and also radiation.
Some of these agents are noxious with respect to organisms.
The gradually ageing and finally dying of the organism could be interpreted along the following lines (it cannot however be more than a model) :
The generation of system states -- of which the Totality is a part -- directed by the dynamical law, implies a succession of participating microscopical and macroscopical structures in the organismic body. With respect to the present issue the microscopical alterations of structure are especially significant, alterations, in which chemical changes play a role. The changing chemical microscopic structures, appearing in the successive life-stages of the organism, are -- as long as they belong to, say, the first half of the series -- such that they are inert, or at least little reactive, with the just mentioned (potentially) noxious agents from the external environment, because of (among others) chemical reasons.

Remark: This being inert is the consequence of ward off reactions (i.e. neutralizing reactions), but these are themselves in turn based on certain chemical structures. The netto result will be inertia.

But in later life stages of the organism certain chemical microscopical structures appear, still according to the dynamical law, which are, to be sure, just different structures again, but, which are NOT inert anymore with respect to those (noxious) agents, with the result that these agents pass from being potentially noxious to being actually noxious.
When the frequency of the affection by the actually noxious agents exceeds a certain threshold, or when the affection becomes noxious by reason of a cumulative effect (this cumulation results in the system constantly being perturbed, because the perturbation will then not be neutralized anymore),-- the system elements are then changed in such a far-reaching way, that they now are going to embody another dynamical law, or (are going to embody) several other dynamical laws, because a dynamical law is always inherent in the system elements. On the spot the original dynamical law has disappeared and is replaced by one or more other dynamical laws. The transformation of the system elements can be such that the products of that transformation together with elements of the external environment of the dynamical system originally present, form another dynamical law. But generally the transformed system elements will be incorporated in more-embracing physical/chemical systems, and this is visible for us as a disintegration of the Totality (i.e. the loss of the original unity).

This is, as has been said, no more than a rough and simplified dynamical model for the ageing and dying of real organisms. For our purposes it probably is sufficient.

In summarizing all this it is perhaps useful to state the model succinctly :
The dynamical law generates a whole series of system states and with it Totality-stadia. A certain number of Totality-stadia, say x, (generated) since the beginning, are such that they are inert with respect to perturbations caused by the external environment (either no perturbations take place, or they are neutralized, which is in principle the same). But the states, coming after those x inert states (this ' coming after ' still proceeds according to the same dynamical law), are decreasingly inert with respect to those perturbations. This finally leads to a transformation of the system elements (including those belonging to the Totality itself) -- they change chemically -- in such a far-reaching way that they do not embody the original dynamical law anymore. The particular Totality then disappears. Its material ends up in other systems.

Remark: We spoke about the transformation of system elements, especially about a transformation that far-reaching, that the original dynamical law is itself transformed into one or more other dynamical laws.
But the ultimate system elements (and so also the ultimate Totality-elements) with respect to supra-atomic Totalities are atoms, and they do not -- in the present context -- change (In all biological processes, including ageing and dying, the atoms are not transformed into other atoms, i.e. into other species of atoms).
In what way must we assess these matters?
We can do this as follows :
Recall that the sequence of (intermediate) stadia (successive intermediate products) leading to a Totality T, expresses (the operation of) the dynamical law that finally generates T.
The above mentioned system elements, that are transformed, are indeed not the ultimate system elements, but are larger molecular complexes, and they are transformed, into other complexes. These complexes refer -- because they have changed -- to (an)other historical sequence(s) of generations (i.e. (a) sequence(s) of generated products), leading from the (same) set of initial atoms, which (set) harbors many possible dynamical laws, to the present (now changed) 'Totality'. Consequently we now have, ex hypothesi, to do with another dynamical law or laws. Ex hypothesi, because we consider the case in which the transformations of some elements of the system (containing the Totality) are such as to result in a (new) dynamical law or laws, deviating sufficiently from the original dynamical law to result in the disintegration of the original Totality, i.e. to result in the generation of other Totalities. See next Figure.

The Totalities T1 , T2 , t2a , t2b , t2c , t2d , T3, T4 , can be traced back (red arrows) , i.e. they refer back, to the same set ( I A ) of initial (freely existing) atoms. The sequences of products (stadia, states) thus found imply the corresponding dynamical laws.
T2 disintegrates into (the smaller Totalities) t2a , t2b , t2c , t2d , then the original dynamical law, corresponding to the sequence of intermediary products that leads from the initial set of atoms, I A , to Totality T2 , has been replaced by (in this supposed case) four other dynamical laws corresponding to the four sequences of intermediary products leading from I A to respectively t2a , t2b , t2c , t2d .

This concludes our exposition of a Totality theory of Organisms.
Organisms are extremely complex and diverse, and their way of functioning, their historical origins and evolutionary pathways are not yet completely understood.
Especially the origin and essence of Mind is little understood. But this is because of complexity, not because of a fundamental ontological difference. Although complex, and little understood, Man is wholly part of Nature, and can only be understood by studying Nature, not by resorting to mysticism.

Higher up in this Series of Essays we treated of DETERMINATIONS (of a Substance). It would perhaps be advantageous and interesting to restudy the Essay on determinations (consisting of three Parts). The next paragraph can serve as a smooth transition to this Essay :

We've finally finished our treatment of SUBSTANCE.
We considered (1) small Totalities (molecules), (2) Totalities formed in non-living dissipative systems (dissipative structures), (3) Crystals and finally (4) Organisms.
That treatment had been focussed on the 'genotypical' aspect of Substance, namely the Dynamical Law, i.e. the Substance's specific Essence, and how intrinsic unities are formed.
Now the time has come to treat of the ACCIDENTS of Substance, i.e. its 'phenotypical' expression. The Accidents are the phenotypical determinations of the Substance. They are the effects of the Substance's Essence. Of course the overall effect of the operating dynamical law (of a Totality-generating dynamical system) is the mentioned unity, a uniform thing having determinations. We will look to these determinations as they are in themselves, i.e. considered singly and as seen from such a determination. We will concentrate on the relation between determinations and that something of which they are determinations, which in classical terms boils down to the relation between Substance and Accident. We will try to give a fresh ontological interpretation of an accidens ( Click HERE ).

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