The Science of Living Systems

In the late 1900's, scientists world-wide studied different aspect of what it means to be a living system.  In their search for a fundamental definition, they explored systems including biological organisms as well as computer models.

Dr. Capra summarized those scientists’ works in his 1996 book, The Web of Life.

He explained that there are three fundamental criteria for a living system.  Trees and all plants qualify as living systems by all three of these criteria.

  1. “Network Pattern.”  Trees/plants operate with a complex pattern of organization like an orchestra.  They have interacting and interdependent parts and functions which work in feedback loops.
  2. “Dissipative Structure.”  Living systems undergo dynamic change and yet maintain a stable structure. This was Nobel Prize winning research.  For example, as an oak tree begins as an acorn and grows into a massive tree, so it has a stable structure while dynamic changes occur constantly. 
  3. “Cognition as the Process of Life.”  All living beings show intelligence or cognition.  Not only do sunflowers follow the sun’s progress East to West during the day, but in the morning, they are waiting for the sun in the East again.  This is not considered human intelligence, which is the result of language and culture.  "Cognition” is intelligence in the sense that a single celled organism in a Petri dish will go toward the food and away from the poison.

According to Dr. Bruce Lipton in his book The Biology of Belief, every cell–whether human, animal, or plant–is intelligent.  The membrane (outer coating) of cells must “decide” what to allow in and what to keep out.  Even though very different in structure and physiology, trees and other plants share a similar fundamental cellular biology with humans.  All cells have walls, internal structures and operate based on energy exchanges and patterns. 

Systems, which are aggregates of cells, must interact in coordination with other systems for the benefit of the whole.  This is the same in all living organisms.

The next relevant science is Quantum and Zero-Point Physics.