“What is Life?” Anticipation in Relational Biology – CREA Seminar
Thursday 28 March 2019
Hörsal P1 – Prisma
13h – 14 h
An anticipatory system is a natural system that contains an internal predictive model of itself and its environment, and takes antecedent actions in accordance with the model’s predictions. An organism is the very example of an anticipatory system: Life is anticipatory. This connection ultimately explains how the mathematical biologist Robert Rosen (1934–1998), in his lifelong quest of general principles that would answer the question “What is Life?”, happened to write, en passant, many papers on anticipatory systems, culminating in his 1985 book Anticipatory Systems: Philosophical, Mathematical, and Methodological Foundations. Robert Rosen’s systematic study of anticipation began in the 1970s, inspired by his interactions with social scientists. Dr Aloisius H. Louie continued his work by showing that deep system-theoretic homologies allow the possibility of obtaining insights into anticipatory processes in the human and social sciences from the fundamental understanding of biological anticipation. Relational biology is a study of life in terms of the organization of “entailment relations” in living systems, rather than any particular physical mechanism or material realization. Anticipation is the pivot on which the relational study of life revolves. This seminar is an exposition on the epistemological foundations of a comprehensive theory of anticipatory systems.
Dr. Aloisius H. Louie is a mathematical biologist living in Canada. His PhD thesis (1981) was on the abstract formulation of categorical system theory in biology. Robert Rosen, then Killam Professor of Biomathematics at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), was his mentor. Dr. Louie’s research subjects have encompassed abstract formulations, mathematical modelling, and computer simulations of various natural and physical phenomena, including dynamic behaviour of protein molecules, enzyme-substrate recognition, processes of irreversible thermodynamics, human-pollutant interactions, cell biology of senescence, electromagnetics, anticipation, and pathophysiology. His premier interest, however, remains the epistemological aspects of mathematical biology. His approach to the subject is called “relational biology.” He is the author of More Than Life Itself: A Synthetic Continuation in Relation Biology (Ontos verlag 2009), The Reflection of Life: Functional Entailment and Imminence in Relational Biology (Springer 2013), and Intangible Life: Functorial Connections in Relational Biology (Springer 2017).