The Self-Replicating Logic of Life

Life is notoriously difficult to pin down and unambiguously define. Attempts to identify a unique set of essential or universal characteristics in living systems beyond generalised dynamical and logical patterns or material tendencies has proven serially problematic. Under any rational analysis it becomes apparent that living systems are not different in any fundamental way from the (notionally inorganic) patterns and processes of information and energy from which biology has emerged. The points of difference between organic and inorganic systems are generally reducible to factors composed in various ways of an essential orientation towards self-interested material continuity. The degree to which such an orientation and bias towards self-propagation is an emergent property of the logic and grammar of physics is perhaps only in our contemporary era becoming transparently self-evident but still finds itself as a principle in search of extensive articulation and popular communication beyond a scientific or specialist community.

What at a cognitive or subjective level appears as self-interested behaviour may also be the simple aggregate behavioural or complexity in material emergence of many sub-systems and material processes which each in their own way maintain (or autonomously seek) continuity through an interdependent gestalt of activity. If self-propagation is an axiomatic bias of physics or material systems; and the complex recombinatory activity of those systems provides fertile opportunity for the emergence, cultivation and production of further iteratively refined self-propagating patterns; then all emergent activity and behaviour in material, cognitive, cultural and technological systems is in essence a fractally self-replicating pattern of this axiomatic bias towards systems self-replication.

The essence of this is that all patterns of information and energy which exist (as expressed through physics) are biased towards the self-replication and self-propagation of those same patterns; the emergence of overtly biological systems is merely a branching of this same elementary logical pivot and bias towards the self-replication and self-propagation of systems continuity. The method and morphology of systems and systemic self-replication may not always be obvious but it remains as a material fact of the expression and instantiation or manifestation of the laws of physics and an underlying mathematical logic.


One thought on “The Self-Replicating Logic of Life

  1. You assert “The points of difference between organic and inorganic systems are generally reducible to factors composed in various ways of an essential orientation towards self-interested material continuity”. I’d be comfortable with the assertion if it didn’t contain references to self-interested material continuity or bias towards self-propagation or self-replication, which seem to appear only in organic systems. Besides, I don’t see how to deconstruct self-propagation and self-replication into their component parts in order to identify commonalities between organic and inorganic processes. AFAIK a virus is organic but passive. It floats around in some medium waiting to bump into a cell’s receptor to be imbibed and osmosed through the cellular membranes to have its DNA or RNA read, processed, and replicated by the active cellular machinery. That would represent the low-end of organic systems. Then I would look for the high-end of inorganic systems (in terms of complexity and/or chaotic opportunities for accidents to happen, critical masses, energies, pressures, gravities, and other known forces, possibly quantum fluctuations). Maybe all biological systems can be ultimately reduced to passive organic behaviors within the context of complexity, proximity, and chain reactions (think fission or fusion). Maybe there’s no significant difference between inorganic and organic systems, at least potentially. Yes, viruses get themselves replicated but they can’t do it themselves. IMHO science will progress most rapidly by taking baby steps, in other words, incrementally.


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