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About this book

In the context of life sciences, we are constantly confronted with information that possesses precise semantic values and appears essentially immersed in a specific evolutionary trend. In such a framework, Nature appears, in Monod’s words, as a tinkerer characterized by the presence of precise principles of self-organization. However, while Monod was obliged to incorporate his brilliant intuitions into the framework of first-order cybernetics and a theory of information with an exclusively syntactic character such as that defined by Shannon, research advances in recent decades have led not only to the definition of a second-order cybernetics but also to an exploration of the boundaries of semantic information. As H. Atlan states, on a biological level "the function self-organizes together with its meaning". Hence the need to refer to a conceptual theory of complexity and to a theory of self-organization characterized in an intentional sense. There is also a need to introduce, at the genetic level, a distinction between coder and ruler as well as the opportunity to define a real software space for natural evolution. The recourse to non-standard model theory, the opening to a new general semantics, and the innovative definition of the relationship between coder and ruler can be considered, today, among the most powerful theoretical tools at our disposal in order to correctly define the contours of that new conceptual revolution increasingly referred to as metabiology. This book focuses on identifying and investigating the role played by these particular theoretical tools in the development of this new scientific paradigm. Nature "speaks" by means of mathematical forms: we can observe these forms, but they are, at the same time, inside us as they populate our organs of cognition. In this context, the volume highlights how metabiology appears primarily to refer to the growth itself of our instruments of participatory knowledge of the world.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. On the Verge of Life: Looking for a New Scientific Paradigm

Abstract
From a general point of view, at the level of life we are constantly faced with an inner self-modulation of a very peculiar coupled system: the alternative splicing represents only one of the essential tools relative to the self-organization of the channel. In this sense, the dialectics between coder and ruler really plays a fundamental role: it is in view of a continuous synthesis of new proteins and new structures as well as of the accomplishment, each time, of a correct assimilation process. In any case, the problem is to establish, every time, a correct relationship between invariance and morphogenesis. Life is hiding in the creative equilibrium at stake, a balance that must be constantly renewed on pain of dissipating life itself. Meaning and incompressibility are the two actors who tread the scene of life determining each time the due balance in accordance with an evolution which concerns the surfacing of the natural world but in the conditions of a continuous (and “intended”) metamorphosis.
Arturo Carsetti

Chapter 2. Drawing a Software Space for Natural Evolution

Abstract
The genome expresses itself into a given phenotype in a complex way. Actually, at the basic level, the genome sequence codes for its own translating machinery. It determines the birth of a cellular machinery responsible, in turn, for gene regulation and expression. A particular gene, for instance, codes for RNA polymerase whose function is to transcribe the genes into messenger RNA. Without RNA polymerase there is no messenger RNA, we are faced with the absence of cellular life. However, RNA polymerase is necessary for its very synthesis because it transcribes its gene. Hence the essential circularity that characterizes living organisms. The cellular machinery “represents”, step by step, the genome into an organism realizing the final stage of what we call the embodiment process. In this sense, the genome and the cellular machinery really interact by establishing an evolving and coupled network: as we shall see one of the key results of this interaction is represented by the continuous engraving (through selection) at the level of the organisms of specific formats: among them we can distinguish, first of all, the formats relative to the architectures of sensorial perception. In this way the circularity proper to life necessarily unfolds in the conditions of Reflexivity.
Arturo Carsetti

Chapter 3. Non-standard Models and the “Construction” of Life

Abstract
If we set ourselves from the point of view of a radical Constructivism, an effective semantic anchorage for an observer system such as the one, for example, represented by the non-trivial machine as imagined by H. von Foerster, can come to be identified only to the extent that the evolving system itself proves able to change the Semantics. This, however, will result in our being able to realize an expression of ourselves as autonomous beings, as subjects, in particular, capable of focusing on the same epistemological conditions relating to our autonomy. A creative autonomy that expresses itself above all in the observer's ability to govern the change taking place. Only the cognitive agent operating in these conditions will actually come to undergo the new embodiment. Here is the passage on one's shoulders to which T. Skolem refers, namely that continuous passage from the first to the second observer that marks the very course of natural evolution.
Arturo Carsetti

Chapter 4. Regulatory Logic, Algorithmic Information and General Semantics

Abstract
As H. Atlan and A. Carsetti remark in a natural self organizing system (a biological one, characterized by the existence of cognitive activities) the goal has not been set from the outside. What is self-organizing is the function itself with its meaning. The origin of meaning in the organization of the system is an emergent property. In this sense the origin of meaning is closely connected to precise linguistic and logical operations and to well defined procedures of observation and self-observation. These operations and procedures induce, normally, continuous processes of inner reorganization at the level of the system. The behaviour of the net, in other words, possesses a meaning not only to the extent that it will result autonomous and to the extent that inside it we can inspect a continuous revelation of hidden properties, but also to the extent that it will result capable of observation and self-observation as well as intentionally linked to a continuous production of possible new interpretation acts and reorganization schemes. The state space relative to these observational, self-observational and intentional functional activities cannot be confined, in this sense, on logical grounds, only within the boundaries of a nested articulation of propositional Boolean frames. On the contrary, we will be obliged, in order to give an explanation, within a general theory of cellular nets, for such complex phenomena, to resort to particular informational tools that reveal themselves as essentially linked to the articulation of predicative and higher-order level languages, to the outlining of a multidimensional information theory and to the definition of an adequate intensional and second-order semantics.
Arturo Carsetti

Chapter 5. The Metamorphoses of the Revisable Thought and the Evolution of Life

Abstract
Eurydice, living among shades, fails to "see": on the wave of the splitting she explores worlds conceptually, thinks via concepts, and delineates extensions (at the level of mathematical invention) in view of a possible new incarnation ensuing the new song which burst forth. With the birth of the Nymph new, specific forms of recursion and ordering will be possible, linked to a renewed many-sorted version, with new computational practices (at the mental level) which, however, will employ new methods and which will emerge from the chaos ensuing devastation, also in dependence of the surfacing of new language. The result will be the birth and consolidation of a new invariance, with new methods and new individuals at play. When, in fact, new fixed points will emerge at the co-evolutionary (and infinitary) level on the basis of new limitation procedures, we will witness new eyes in the flesh, and new Nature, as well as the actual establishment of new intended models, albeit in reference to more complex computational practices than hitherto. We will have been worn by new glasses consonant with more adequate systems of numbers, and will be able to find again the ancient natural numbers, and operate with them in accordance, however, with a more extensive savor.
Arturo Carsetti

Backmatter

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