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Upside-Down Gods$
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Peter Harries-Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823270347

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823270347.001.0001

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Pattern and Process

Pattern and Process

(p.145) 6 Pattern and Process
Upside-Down Gods

Peter Harries-Jones

Fordham University Press

As Bateson moves into ecology, he develops the notion of bioentropy, indicating a movement of pattern from noise, which occurs along with concepts of mutuality and interdependency with other species. Bioentropy rephrases Norbert Wiener’s notion of information as thermodynamic ‘negentropy’ and challenges the Darwinian mechanics of natural selection. Adaptation is a question of levels, and not a singular response, in which the more immediate levels of change are faster cybernetic circuits, while higher levels have very slow moving variables. Feedback from environment and genetics continues until multiple adaptation results in loss of a living system’s flexibility and ‘jams’ its ability to change. Adaptation is a defining characteristic of all living systems (Creatura) and distinguishes them from material systems (Pleroma), a distinction having nothing to do with vitalism, but is more like a distinction of perceptual foreground and background (as in gestalt). Biologists always behave badly when they suspect vitalist arguments (Susan Oyama) but the world of difference in perception and communication, together with feedback, should clearly affect the epistemology of science.

Keywords:   bioentropy, Creatura, Darwinism, natural Selection, Susan Oyama, Pleroma, vitalism

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