On the interrelations of biology and mechanics
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Russian Journal of Biomechanics
ON THE INTERRELATIONS OF BIOLOGY AND MECHANICS
V.A. Kaidalov, V.M. Shemyakinskii
Department of Philosophy, Perm State Technical University, 29a, Komsomolskii Prospect, 614 600, Perm, Russia
Abstract. The ever-actual problem of life is analyzed in this paper and different solutions of it are considered, including vitalism and mechanicism. Darwinism is regarded as a theory that is near to mechanicism but not the same. The most correct understanding the problem of life for today is connected with the principle of the complementarity whose author is N. Bohr. The authors of this paper prove that the idea of the complementarity was originally formulated as a philosophic paradigm in the critical philosophy of I. Kant. The philosophy of apriorism made impossible to reduce the essence of life to the mechanicism and proved the absurdity of such statement. The principle of the complementarity directly connects the concept of life with the idea of inpremeditated expediency thus excluding both the reference to God and reducing the organism to mechanism. The principle of the homeostasis that represents the essence of all living beings is regarded as impossibility to describe the organism in terms of mechanism and impossibility to reduce the laws of biology to the laws of mechanics. In fact it leads to the definition of biological concept and states that such concepts should be based on inpremeditated expediency (& quot-expediency without aim& quot-). The laws of mechanics do not include such concepts. Only this mutual logical independence of biology and mechanics makes possible the existence of biomechanics although such science is impossible from points of view of vitalism and mechanicism. Moreover, biomechanics, a science that explore the harmony of mechanical and biological laws in a living organism, makes possible mutual contribution of biology and mechanics to the benefit of each other and opens new horizons for their development. The paradigm of evolutionism is compared with recent concepts of self-developing systems it this paper, but this problem is only marked, not researched.
Key words: life, mechanicism, vitalism, forming power, motive power, inpremeditated expediency, homeostasis, principle of the complementarity, ambivalence
It is typical for modern natural sciences to synthesize all sciences about nature that were separated earlier and had different objects and methods. It could be easily understood because nature does not consist of different fields of study separated by walls. But nature as it is with all its connections and dependencies is too complicated for scientific cognition. Natural sciences are ambivalent by definition. From one side it is knowledge, information which is built by scientists and belongs to subjects but not to nature itself. From the other side it is knowledge about external nature but not a subjective knowledge like images in art. Natural sciences, in short, are a result of interaction of man and nature. K. Weizsacker wrote that nature existed before man and man existed before natural sciences. We know about nature in the form of knowledge but we do not know about knowledge in the form of nature.
Scientific cognition begins with analyzing simple phenomena. That is why mechanics was the first natural science. The history of physics, the simplest science about nature, starts with the history of mechanics. Biology, a science about living nature is significantly more
complicated than physics, a science about lifeless nature in the hierarchy of natural sciences. There is widely known statement of I. Kant that Newton'-s laws can explain the entire Universe? but they can not explain a grass or a bug. When B. Pascal invented his arithmometer he wrote that this counting mechanism is superior to nature because it is invented by man mind — a creation of nature, but this mechanism is inferior in complexity to any living being. Indeed, one single cell consists of about one hundred thousand millions of atoms, it excels in complexity any man creation and does not have an analogue in inorganic world. That is why theologists count the, mystery of life'-s origins as a reason for its divine origins.
Organism and mechanism differ not only in degree of complexity. They differ qualitatively, and Kant brilliantly expressed this difference: & quot-Every part of clock serves the tool for movement of others but one cog-wheel is not the reason that created the others- every cog-wheel exist for other cog-wheels but not due to them… One cog-wheel does not create another cog-wheel and that is why one clock does not create another clock using different matter for this (forming it) — that is why the clock does not replace absent parts, it does not compensate the absence of one part by different using the rest parts, it does not repair itself. But we expect all these things from organic nature. Organic creature is not just a mechanism because a mechanism has only motive power and organic creature has forming power also and a creature imparts it to a matter that did not have this power… So organic creature has a spreadable forming power that can not be explained only by motive power (of a mechanism)& quot- . For example, one tree gives birth to another tree in accordance with its kind, it grows, it enlarge and repair its parts by the laws of biology which are qualitatively different from the laws of mechanics because the matter consumed by the tree is transformed qualitatively in accordance with the need of its kind.
Distinction of mechanics from biology in modern natural sciences is an obvious fact. But the problem of their connection is still topical. Reference to existence of living or dead God can not solve this problem, certainly. The principle of not using the argument about God lies in the foundation of all natural sciences. They do not accept references to supernatural. The era of natural sciences was opened by revolution of Copernicus: science and religion occurred to be not excluding each other as different spheres of human culture, but they became complement of one another. N. Bohr expressed the essence of it in the form of a paradox. He wrote about two brilliant ideas belonging to man kind: one idea is that God exists, another idea is that God does not exist. These ideas are compatible to each other in the borders of man culture which represents ambivalent nature of man as his product: man is a product of nature and he is a creator of artificial nature, that is culture.
One way to solve the problem of life is the theory of vitalism. It postulates the existence of special life force in order to explain the qualitative difference between living and lifeless matter. This life force controls physical and chemical processes in living organisms and determines the direction of their development. But this way to solve the problem is incompatible with biological, physical and chemical laws. But we do not find any contradiction with the laws of lifeless matter while exploring living organisms. The idea of vitalism is an ad hoc hypothesis and it is inconsistent as such. It is similar to hypothesis for ectoplasms that was widely used in physics up to the 20th century. Another drawback of vitalism is its naturalistic approach that pretends to solve the problem once and for all. Prohibition of physical and chemical research of living organism is a significant constraint of vitalism, and the harmony of biological, physical and chemical laws inside the organism remaind incomprehensible.
Another point of view on understanding life is connected with theory of evolution by Ch. Darwin. Darwinism is one of the ways to free yourself from God as creator of evolution of life, the way to free you from divine mind and aim, which leads biological processes in nature. The author of evolutionary theory suggested that the variety of organic creatures and
natural selection have no sense than the direction in which the wind blows. The idea of natural selection is a striving to explain the evolution of life in the languages of natural sciences, it is a prohibition of theological explanation of evolution. While theology states creation of life by God at once, Darwin suggests that more complex living organisms emerge from simpler forms as a result of constant change, which is propelled by change in external conditions. According to the theory of evolution the fish came of not fish, man came of not man.
The basic achievement of darwinism is in proving of openness, relativity and incompleteness of the process of evolution, the proof that there exists a stress between the organism and the environment and this stress always was, is and will be the reason for evolution. Darwinism explains evolution & quot-from below& quot- (from environment to the organism), not & quot-from above& quot- (from God to the organism) and makes senseless any talk in absolute terms about ideal organism. We use the languages of physics and chemistry to explain changing external conditions and these languages does not have the concepts for aim and mind, so we have explain the evolution of living beings without reference to God. In short, the striving to discover the mystery of life by reducing an organism to mechanism lies in the foundation of darwinism.
But the riddle of life slippes off both from vitalism and mechanicism. They are the two extremes in explaining life. And extremes move towards each other. A common point for them is naturalism that ignores gnosiology from the point of view of which both theories are one-sided, because vitalism comes from the idea of aim and mechanicism comes from the idea of reason. The exit from this deadlock resembles the recipe of I. Goethe: the higher wisdom is in transforming the problem to the statement: there is exit on this way. Or, a synthesis of these two theories is important, and this synthesis implicitly exists in both of these theories.
Darwin really understood that random changes in organisms alone never lead to organic evolution if we remember the short time span that passed for life to evolve from the start to the man. It is important to unite analyzed changes. Theory of Darwin already includes the idea of aim and he directly said: & quot-if changes that are useful for some organism will appear somehow, then the organisms that have them will have more chances in winning the struggle for life and they will show the striving to give them to their descendants because of powerful nature of inheritance& quot-[2. Thus darwinism not only prohibit reference to God as a higher absolute aim, but it also introduces the idea of inpremeditated expediency and tells about a mechanism of inheritance that evolved to genetics later.
The ideas of aim and mechanism come to a more complex relation: they exclude each other as hypotheses for the world but they are complement to each other as the principles of cognition of organic world, they stimulate the development of biology and guarantee the infinity of biological cognition. The idea of the aim is a starting and elementary idea for understanding life. It can not be received from or reduced to the principle of the causality that is expressed in terms of material objects and relations between them. The principle of expediency expresses qualitative difference between organism -and the mechanism and impossibility to reduce the first to the second. & quot-Expediency without aim& quot-, & quot- inpremeditated expediency& quot- excludes the explanation of organism from the point of view of mechanism. The language of biology does not need mechanical proof, although biological processes does not contradict mechanical laws. The teaching about lifeless matter excludes aim whereas the teaching about organic world assumes the aim. L. Tolstoi wrote that wet wood would not set on fire if we shall change their order. And life is impossible to express in the language of material objects and their relations. The principle of expediency without aim excludes intentional expediency because although living organism is created for life but it was not intentionally created for it, the organism is not the product of intentional expediency which is an attribute of man activity coordinated by mind. That is why the idea of inpremeditated
expediency allows to separate inorganic structures from organic structures and organic structures from social structures which could not be understood without intentional expediency which relates to the mind.
The paradigm of evolution was founded by hypotheses of Kant and P. Laplace for the origins of the Solar system and developed by Darwin in his teaching about evolution of living beings. This paradigm becomes the universal instrument for explaining the world as a whole including not only the world of biology and society but also the world of lifeless matter from elementary particles to the Universe as a whole. Modern science does not operate in the world of things and processes. It operates in the world of dynamic structures and orders that could not be understood without evolutionary approach. Such explanation of nature, refusal of a single possible structure of the world expressed in the language of classical mechanics opened new horizons in the science. Synergetics, the theory of self -generating, general theory of systems, cybernetics, cosmogony, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary epistemology, post-positivism as a theory of history of science — it is only the beginning the disciplines where the evolutionary paradigm proved its fruitfulness.
Today the idea of evolution as a basic idea of this paradigm is free from anthropomorphism that was characteristic for it when it appeared. It is a starting idea that does not need a proof by mind because the mind itself is a product, result and fruit of evolution from this point of view. Thus we do not need to prove the existence of man mind with the help of God or world mind that explain the order in nature. Synergetic paradigm predefined the great progress in science by redefining the concept & quot-order"-, freeing it from creator as a personified agent, refusing of opinion that order assumes absolute aim, connecting order not with the expression of intentional purpose but with universal tendency of all world as a regulative idea that define the form of knowledge about the world.
At the same time mechanistic paradigm was not thrown aside, it came to a deeper and more complex relation with evolutionary paradigm. They constraint each other and are complementary to each other. Now we cannot reduce one of them to another, i.e. we exclude naturalistic (dogmatic) understanding both of them. Mechanistic paradigm strove to discover the mystery of life by reducing processes of life to complex mechanical processes and to solve the problem of life in this way once and for all. The principle of the complementarity says that biology could not be reduced to mechanics and mechanics could not be reduced to biology. The principle of the complementarity distinguishes biology from mechanics and makes possible the existence of biomechanics as an independent science, which stimulates the development of both mechanics and biology.
Evolution of biology was driven by the desire to discover the mystery of life. To do so biology consciously decided to reduce the distance between lifeless matter and living matter, but unconsciously this process led to enlarging this distance. Biologists moved from small parts of lifeless matter to small living parts of living beings, cells, but the process of exploration of cell enlarged the distance form living to lifeless dramatically and now biologists even forgot the original problem that originally drove them. Namely the enlarging distance between living and lifeless matter made scientists understand that there exist principal border between physics and biology and connection between them according to the principle of the complementarity. When we analyze organism as a mechanism we do not find contradictions because action causes are valid for living organisms. But when we accept the explanation of organism as a complex mechanism we cannot understand the life itself and its specifics.
Comparing mechanism with organism is not the subject of this paper. The understanding mechanism as a mechanism does not say anything about purpose, and it is impossible to understand the organism without it, such understanding says only about acting reasons. It is possible to explore eye as an optical device, but the thing that sees is not an
optical device but an eye itself as an organ that is created for seeing although eye was inpremeditatedly created for seeing and optic device was intentionally created with the help of mind to serve some purpose. From the point of view of optics the eye is far from being ideal optical device. H. Helmholtz told once that if God would take his advice, he could make eye much better. But this not ideal optical device makes the man see, the cells of eye renew themselves, not wear off, the eye heals itself.
The argument that different living organs are not ideal from the point of view of physics does not prove that mechanisms are better than organisms because the main trait of organism is not details but integration, not organs but organism. So biomechanist who solves the problems of biomechanics should consider the ability of organism to heal itself and not dominate over this process of self-healing. It is important to take health into account while thinking about organism as about mechanism. And thinking about health makes necessary taking into account that this mechanism is organism. We discern aims and means of their achievement (tools and devices) in man activity. Organic world has forming power that is embedded into biological inheritance of the organism and is expressed in modern biology in the form of principle of the homeostasis. This principle recognizes the ability of living organisms to conserve relative dynamic equilibrium and stability of basic physiological functions of organism, their ability to hold their basic biological parameters in certain limits (e.g. body temperature, blood pressure, etc.).
The principle of the homeostasis connects the idea of aim with preserving life of living organism and it allows us to talk about self-preserving of organism while we talk about conserving of matter in organic world. This principle is gnosiologic principle that directly takes into account the conditions of exploring life and is an assumption a priori of building the biology. It is stated as a principle of prohibition to reduce the idea of aim to the idea of mechanism and orients scientists on research of mechanisms that serve for the life of organism but exclude the possibility of understanding life on the language of mechanics. Expediency without aim, inpremeditated expediency is directly connected with living organism and thus excludes indirect mechanical interpretation — reducing the aim to the mechanism.
Life is an elementary fact and the idea of aim is the basic idea for building biological science. This idea is not hypothesis that is understandable for mechanical interpretation. It is an assumption, regulative heuristic principle, and the principle of cognition of life that prohibits reducing of organism to mechanism. That is why Bohr compared the concept of life with universal constants in physics, gnosiologic account of that opened the way for building not classic physics. These universal constants were not given by experience but were advised by it. And in the same way the concept of life is accepted as a starting concept from the point of not empiric but gnosiologic arguments. That is why many concepts of nature and essence of life exists and always existed. But when we accept the idea of inpremeditated expediency as a starting idea for understanding biological relations we define the specifics of biological concepts that enter the formulation of biological laws and their qualitative difference from the concepts those are used in formulating physical and chemical relations. But the laws of inorganic world must not include the concepts that take into account the effect of future on the present because the idea of aim not only excludes such possibility but also does not assume it.
The forming power in a man comes through the mind and gets the form of aim. The fact that the principle of the causality and the principle of the aim are qualitatively different becomes obvious if we imagine a man who saw the unknown object for the first time (e.g. a ancient man saw an airplane). If he would research its internal structure he would never find its purpose. A surgeon during surgical operation does not see anything but material processes but the most significant thing that leads to expediency of organism slip away from his attention. The division on subject and object could not be torn from this principal fact because
the mind enables man to set indirect connection with external world while biological view of the world is direct. Biologist goes from gnosiologic division on mechanism and organism when he or she explores bioldgic relations and this makes possible indirect biologic cognition. Biomechanist does it iri the same way going from image of organism as a mechanism. Contradiction between these points of view is impossible because- principle difference between mechanism and organism is taken into account frorii the vSryibeginning. After all we use different sciences, mechanics and biology, to fiiid the difference between mechanism and organism. The fact of existence of life guaranties compatibility of these two types of laws and is the prerequisite for emerging of biomechanics as an independent brianch of science.
Equal standing of the principle of the causality and the principle of the aim in the borders of the principle of the complementarity prohibits final and complete understanding both lifeless and living nature. The principle of the aim is a regulative idea that does not allow the mind to get out of the borders of experience with the help of the principle of the causality. It prohibits search fo^ the first, absolute reason (God) because the causality connects the world of phenomena. Thus the principle of the aim guaranties the infinity of cognition of nature. From the other side, the principle of the complementarity connects the aim with human mind and thus frees it from theological interpretation. The aim is connected not with the world of nature that is the world of necessity but with the world of freedom. It is important for understanding noumena (subjects of mind: good, beauty, freedom, etc.) but not phenomena (the world of things and events that is explored by mind). Thus God is excluded both from lifeless and organic nature.
It is possible to outline three types of an evolution: the evolution of lifeless nature, the evolution of organic nature and the evolution of social nature. The orders with which we operate while analyzing lifeless nature in physics and chemistry brought us the image of & quot-blind watchmaker& quot-, dead God who is responsible for these orders. A. Einstein pointed many times that the most incomprehensible thing in the world is that it is understandable. The order in the world requires explanation because, as Einstein said, not order but chaos is natural for this. These words of creator of the theory of relativity are widely known: & quot-The God is cunning but not treacherous& quot-. Einstein'-s God is harmony, order and the desire for cognition is like a religious feeling. It is not coincidence that Einstein'-s most dear philosopher was B. Spinoza, a man for whom nature and God are the same. At the same time the greatest physicist of the 20th century positively emphasized that the order in nature is incomprehensible wonder that just has to be accepted by us, not to be explained as religion tries.
The concept of organic evolution that appeared with the teaching of Darwin is connected with the mechanism of genetic inheritance without taking which into account it could not be understood. Organic nature is an aim-like nature, it is & quot-expediency without aim& quot-. Moving reason and aim reason are directly connected in the organism but this connection is not yet understood. We cannot understand organic life without the principle of the aim although this life is not the result of intentional purpose, it is not the fruit of living God. Mind is important for understanding the origin of life because there cannot be understanding without concepts. But the origin of life itself does not need any mind. That is why understanding of life'-s origin should be based not on idea of mind that leads to theological solution of the problem but on the idea of evolution that does not need mind but assumes the existence of inpremeditated spontaneous regulating tendencies in the world. These tendencies are the origin of life and mind. Thus the idea of evolution is the way to free oneself from references on absolute mind (God) while explaining evolution of lifeless and organic matter.
Now as synergetics appeared we does not consider the transformation of chaos into order as a wonder that could not be understood. But modern science defines nature as the world of structures and orders and thus definitely leaves the frame of the complementarity principle. And biomechanics, a science that explores the harmony of biological and
mechanical relations, has a significant role in statement and solving problems that appear on this way.
1. КАНТ И. Критика способности суждения. Москва, Мысль, т. 5, 1965 (in Russian).
2. ДАРВИН Ч. Происхождение видов. Москва-Ленинград, 1935 (in Russian).
К ВОПРОСУ О СООТНОШЕНИИ БИОЛОГИИ И МЕХАНИКИ
В статье анализируется вечно актуальная проблема жизни, учтены различные её решения, в том числе витализм и механицизм. Дарвинизм рассматривается как учение, близкое к механицизму, но не совпадающее с ним. Наиболее корректное понимание проблемы жизни связывается на сегодня с принципом дополнительности, автором которого обычно считают Н. Бора. Но в статье показывается, что идея дополнительности впервые была явно сформулирована как философская парадигма в критической философии И. Канта. Именно философия априоризма исключила в принципе саму возможность сведения сущности жизни к механицизму, доказав абсурдность этой установки. Принцип дополнительности непосредственно связывает понимание жизни с идеей непреднамеренной целесообразности, исключая тем самым не только апелляцию к Богу, но и редуцирование организма к механизму. Принцип гомеостаза как принцип, выражающий сущность живого, понимается как запрет на возможность понимания организма на языке механики, как принцип, определяющий несводимость биологических законов к механическим. Он, по существу, даёт определение того, что следует понимать под биологическим понятием, утверждая, что эти понятия, входящие в формулировку биологических законов, должны основываться на идее непреднамеренной целесообразности («целесообразности без цели»), тогда как механические законы исключают такого рода понятия. Только эта взаимная логическая независимость биологии и механики и делает возможным существование биомеханики, тогда как с точки зрения витализма и механицизма существование такой науки в принципе исключается. Более того, сам факт существования биомеханики, изучающей гармонию механических и биологических законов в живом организме делает возможным «взаимоопыление» как биологии, так и механики, открывая новые перспективы для их развития.
В статье парадигма эволюционизма соотносится с современными учениями о саморазвивающихся системах, но эта проблема только намечается, но не исследуется. Библ. 2.
Ключевые слова: жизнь, механицизм, витализм, формообращующая и движущая силы, непреднамеренная целесообразность, гомеостаз, принцип дополнительности, амбивалентность
Received 20 March 2002