Tag Archives: Biology

Biology’s Mission

Biology has the fantastic capacity to self assemble an intricate orchestra of structures that “dance” in concert by the trillions in such a way as to both nourish and protect the whole community of relationships as a coherent whole. It does this amazing feat in the context of an environment that is partially nourishing and partially antagonistic.

The implied mission set forth by nature is that each biological organism must adaptively recognize and dynamically negotiate the acquisition of nourishment, apply that nourishment to a continual rebuilding process through strategically choreographed activities involving the processing and distribution of modified parts, while proportionally avoiding and-or dealing with antagonistic agents in order to remain coherent. This complex negotiation process is continual and shifts dynamically according to the changing demands of the environment.

Collections of interdependent relationships assemble into a self-sustaining coherent whole based on an economy of adaptive value. This economy of values is based on things that contribute to nourishing and or defending continuing coherency. There are many expressions of this adaptive value that come in many forms, from perception faculties like eyes and ears to perceive the environment, to hands and feet to move within it – to the tiny cilia that wisp mucus and dust away from the lungs to protect them, find nourishment. Nested systems aligned around this theme of “perceive and respond” to “nourish and defend” the community can be seen on many scales.

Nested layers of relationship are seated within each and among others, like the many ripples in a pond – intersecting and influencing each other – also like turbulent circular patterns that emerge as coherent expressions in the wake of dynamic fluid flows under pressure. We express a coordinated sophistication that is centered on a singular goal: To nourish and protect the community of relationships in the context of an environment that would dissipate that coherence. This “nourish and protect” goal is meaningfully expressed through the many biological relationship chains and the corresponding behaviors that demonstrate a behavioral pull in this goal-oriented direction.

What we see as order and organization comes from the constellation of relationship behaviors that are born of an inherent value proposition embedded throughout the fabric of nature.

Nature in effect “calls” coherent structures into higher states of order by inherently “valuing” or “selecting” only those relationship behaviors that contribute to coherency over time. The more a behavior, or string of interconnected behaviors contributes to coherency, the more likely it will be incorporated and repeated in a renewal process. This is the essence of what we call natural selection.

Selection itself implies that nature values some things over others. The fact that one relationship structure exists over another one is an expression of this underlying value structure. Of all the things that exist, only those that serve the purpose of nourishing and defending coherency remain. Nature values coherency over decoherence but also demands specific behaviors in service of this coherency over time.

As our capacity for self-awareness awakens, we find ourselves living expressions of this adaptive wonder. When we make the effort to look into the sophisticated processes that conspire to keep us moving forward in time, the level of sophistication can appear astounding. If we transcend the many scales of self-similarity we begin to see themes. Repeating patterns in the process are expressed in many forms. We see the coordinated community of relationship bonds aligned around the utility of continuing existence. We see rhymes and a certain dissonance, a certain pattern infused with some novelty, that is both aligned around the goal. We must maintain the pattern but have enough novelty to deal with the unexpected, and this blend forms the adaptive range with which we negotiate the environment over time. If the environment overwhelms that combination of self-similar and novel adaptive capacities, we lose coherence and go extinct. We watch as biology pays the existential debt required to go forward in time through an environment that sometimes reluctantly provides fruit, or looks for weaknesses to devour the community that it also gave rise to.

The further we peer into the intricacies of this relationship landscape that is biology, and the environment in which it is continually baptized, the more profound and informed we see its capacity to stitch together responses that adaptively negotiate the chaos, continuously calling it to order and making the occasional discovery that adds to the adaptive repertoire. We see this capacity to dynamically call chaos to order expressed through the relational connections between the various organic structures that serve this ongoing concern – to nourish and protect, humming away in an orchestrated song emerging against a cacophony of chaos. Order from chaos. Awareness from sleep.

At the smallest of scales examples like; motor proteins, which are molecular motors inside cells that are able to carry protein cargo along a tubular highway network called microtubules and deliver them to their appropriate destination, or, in the case of a particular variety called myosin, these motor proteins can work in concert with millions of other like motor proteins to do things like contract muscles. Here’s a video detailing in story form, a small glimpse into the fantastic world that is biology. Enjoy!:

Cell Organelles 2 Cytoskeleton

A Day in the Life of a Motor Protein

Image

A Garden of Living Fire

Embedded in our physical structure as well as our nature is the necessity to consume in order to sustain our coherence – we hunger and grow our presence as long as the environment sustains the process. This fire aspect of being is embedded in our myths as well with consuming food and things like hell, suffering and so as important parts of how we map our concept of the world. We also act out this primal pattern in many ways, both constructively and destructively; sometimes consuming each other for the sake of some elevated stature, sometimes sacrificing ourselves for the sake of the larger body we live in and depend on. We are a community of living fire. The question of our future prospects depends on whether we tend the necessities to continue to nourish the fire that sustains and strengthens us or do we consume that necessity to the point of our own consumption?

Bacteria, Like All Organisms, Form Social Networks

Interestingly, bacterial communities’ (called biofilms) and the communication networks that coordinate their actions as a group body (called quorum sensing) have a human social analog. The form and function we know of as human sociality have roots deep within the relationship economy of biology itself. The deeper we dig, the more it appears that what we experience as life is built on a nested architecture of self-similar communication networks.

Bacterial communication and group behavior

“…The past decade has seen the emergence of a new field in basic microbiology… Scientists had long held the view that bacterial cells behaved as self-sufficient individuals, unable to organize themselves into groups or communicate… The idea that bacteria could function as groups and that individuals within the group could respond to the group as a whole seemed almost ludicrous… [It is] now… generally accepted that bacteria produce, and respond as groups… This phenomenon has become known as quorum sensing.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC228476/

The Biological Relationship Economy: An Overview

Looking at biological systems as collections of organisms that work together is a far more useful and revealing lens than is assuming organisms are defined by nucleic DNA and the epigenetic relationships that orbit that core. For instance, our microbiome is a collection of organisms that live in and on us. They are a necessary part of what we need to function. Some of these specialize in acting as part of an immune response, destroying or keeping in check pathogens that might disrupt the community of relationships we depend on. With this larger “biological relationship economy” lens in mind, we can see that viral and bacterial organisms can act as part of our metabolism process, bringing nourishment, and as part of an immune response.

If this wider relationship economy lens is unpacked further, we can see that some forms of cancer may be the result of another collection of organisms that is attempting to defend its integrity. To illustrate, certain strains of the flu are caused by a virus that naturally grows in duck’s throats and is part of their microbiome. This virus attacks us by way of those who butcher ducks getting infected. This may be a type of cross-species immune response where the bacteria is attempting to act as a defender of the biological ecosystem system that it is part of.

Ecosystems can be thought of as biological bodies that extend beyond species and include groups of species and the environment they interact with. There are plenty of these cross-species integrated systems that are collectively aligned around the principle of both establishing mutual coherent integrity and the defense of that integrity by various means.
This “nourish and or defend coherence in the context of the environment” behavioral economy is the axiom on which every coherent organism within and entire ecosystems are based. The behavioral tax that must be paid toward defense is part of the process of coherent biological systems and happens on many levels. When humans are at the receiving end of defensive acts we experience it as a disease.

The array of behaviors in cancer, when taken as a whole, looks like something is deliberately trying to destroy our biological systems in a number of ways with a certain “understanding” or behavioral inclinations aimed at how to make that destruction happen. This principle is no different than when our natural killer cells, which are part of our native immune system, seek out harmful cells in our body and destroy them.

In other words; cancer may be due to our biological system being perceived as a pathogen in relation to another biological system – a collection of organisms that forms a collective body of nourishment and defense – that has sent out destructive agents the same way we produce various defensive immune response agents. Perhaps these defense vectors are in the form of transposons or viral packets, or bacteria suited with certain mechanisms, etc. which turn our native systems against themselves in order to protect the integrity of the system in which those defensive vectors (organisms, viruses, etc.) natively participate.

There are many kinds of cancer. Some may be a result of reversion theory, where our cells are thought to revert to unicellular forms when under prolonged attack but some other forms take on a far more sinister strategic approach to disrupting the systems we depend on for coherence that it makes me wonder if something is recognizing us as a pathogen and taking active defensive action to mitigate that destructive agency.

Of course, this is all speculation. I do know that biological systems are aligned around two foundational strategies, one, to establish coherence, and two, to defend that integrity against antagonists. If we were not blinded by looking at individual organisms and viral elements as separate biological entities, rather than parts of an integrated ecological network of interconnected organisms and environments that are collectively parts of the same body, we would be able to see the sources of disease. In other words, we may be the cause of our own disease because we fail to recognize how to play mutualistically in the broader social biological community.

Here’s an example of interspecies transmission of destructive agents that may be constructive in another biological relationship system context:

https://phys.org/news/2017-01-secret-weapon-insect-transmitted-viruses-exposed.html

History Repeats Itself

After the arrival of the printing press on the human cultural scene, ideas were much less able to be contained and controlled by what was, in effect, a priest class of idea manufacturers. Before this technology, ideas were printed as social currency from the central authority that consisted of the government and church. This set of ideas was consumed as the map of reality by the population at large. With the printing press ideas became far more distributed and less contained by the mandates and hegemony of a robust social institutional base. The institutions had a stranglehold on the narrative map with which the culture navigated and therefore largely defined the culture were now under threat.

A whole new economy of influencers entered the scene, unleashed by the technology. Turmoil followed as the former centers of influence saw their ecological niche threatened and fought to retain their relevancy. Enlightenment ideas such as deism, liberalism, toleration, and scientific progress eroded the supremacy of these former undisputed champions of culture. These new narratives were harshly crushed with physical and ideological warfare because they threatened the now weakened institutions.


After the printing press, it took some time to get the reins back from the effects that “ideas in the wild” had. A time of chaos ensued until a new equilibrium was forged – until these new ideas developed into cultural institutions themselves – until they became well entrenched in the culture with formal institutions of their own – complete with a priest class of “experts” and the attending flocks of faithful followers along with those who get caught in the currents of influence produced by whatever ideological coin of the realm happens to be popular at the time – the “zeitgeist du jour” The organs of influence that emerged in this new climate fitfully found a place of equilibrium among the traditional forces once the boundaries of influence were sufficiently defined. Books, newspapers and later, radio and television were the new centers of power that coexisted with government and church. They now controlled the narrative and defined the culture.

This newfound expansion of the narrative territory didn’t mean that society transformed into a place of justice or any other high virtue. In fact; exploitation, or what could be called social farming (where a small group that holds control of the narrative entices larger groups to act in unison under the banner of a set of ideas that serves the interests of that small group) reemerged after some time. The former concentrated seats of power were disrupted for a time but not the principles on which the human social economy operates. Grifters and those who ride on waves of authority rather than the much harder work of authentic contribution to the human condition dressed up in lofty ideas like freedom and justice while they reestablished the reins of influence. Once again the influence was leveraged to parasitic and predatory effect on the many to serve the few. In other words, the new boss was the same as the old boss.

This same period of chaos and fight for control of the narrative is happening again with the advent of the internet. Like the printing press, this technology unlocked the ability for one person to reach thousands and millions with a keyboard and a camera. This has once again disrupted the institutional layer of society – the few that control the narrative for the many. The same painful and bloody birthing process that happened in the wake of the printing press is once again unfolding. I suspect that a new equilibrium will form over time. I’m not sure we have the maturity as a species just yet to redefine the principles on which our new social contracts will operate. Will we generate the emergent fruits that result from a commitment to the realization of each other’s full potential, or will we reestablish the poverty inducing climate produced by the image so well defined in George Orwell’s book Animal farm, where the creatures used the ideas of freedom and equality to reestablish exactly what they claimed to be fighting against?


Freedom and justice cannot be expected to flow from untended soil, it has to be continuously and carefully cultivated by what we do for each other, not by what we can get from each other. I hope we can develop the insight and discipline to choose the former because the latter is a recipe to author our continued poverty.

Does Nature Express Purpose?

Is there a purpose written into the way our biological structures are formed? If we use complex biological organisms such as ourselves as a model, we see proteins, fluids, cells, organs, and various signaling and behavior systems are all organized around a central theme: The behavioral aim among all the “members” of our body is oriented toward providing some nourishing and-or defense value to the community each member is both a part of and depends on. This mutual exchange of value throughout the community is the engine that adapts to remain coherent in the context of the variables of the environment.

At the center of the networked relationship economy is a certain vital relationship core. Relationships that must be present for the system to remain coherent. Without a certain set of vital organs relating to each other under the shared banner of nourishment and protection such as our heart or lungs, we could not function. Extending outward from this central relationship core are rings of contributory relationships that offer adaptive value but are not necessarily vital. The theme of this extended relational network is based on the same currency of adaptive value in the context of the environment.

This principle of relational bonding by way of mutual contributory value is what defines us as individuals and as functional cohesive social groups. The same principle is expressed through the ecosystem our species is part of, where the cooperative bonds aimed at nourishing and defending the vital fruits that sustain the community must be present in sufficient measure for the community to exist and grow to its mature potential.

Nature is not ambiguous about this message. Threaded throughout any healthy dynamic adaptive relationship system are intricate patterns of mutually nourishing and protective feedback loops that are tuned to function in equilibrium with the environment. Bottom line; we must ultimately cultivate the fruit that feeds us to remain coherent and develop to our full potential.

We see this mutualistic relationship network model expressed in many forms. The ants in this video relate to the acacia tree under the same principle as the vital organs in our body. This expression of the sustainable exchange of adaptive value offers us a useful model for the way we can realize the full measure of opportunity we have to cultivate our greatest realization of potential here on this common ground of Earth we share.

What is our role in defining our experience and do we recognize and leverage it constructively?

The relationships that define functioning biological systems exist on a spectrum ranging from vital, mutually beneficial relationships at one end to parasitic and predatory ones at the other. Vital relationships are when the parts within a system are essential to each other such as the vital organs in our body. After vital relationships are those that produce adaptive value but are not vital, such as arms or legs. On the negative side of the spectrum are parasitic and predatory relationships that act to disrupt these cooperative networks. Overall, a certain threshold of cooperative, mutually nourishing and-or defensive relationships is essential for coherent biological systems to exist.

The fact that destructive agents exist requires coherent systems to devote a certain portion of energy to contend with antagonists. Our immune systems are an example of this expression. Adaptive value is measured relative to a particular system. For example; predators nourish themselves at the expense of prey. From the predator’s perspective, this is an adaptive trait. From the prey’s perspective, it is destructive. Getting away more effectively or otherwise defending against the predator is adaptive to the prey.

This spectrum of relationships is expressed on many scales; on small scales within and between organisms, on larger scales in local environments and ecosystems. Out of this “relationship economy” come living monuments to the necessities of being. Complex adaptive systems that nourish and or defend coherence are what we see embedded in biology’s perceptions and responses. Each organism is tuned to this purpose. System properties that more effectively contend with the necessities of being over time are “selected” over those that do not.


The environment is the primary influence in defining the relationship properties of the systems that exist within it. Desert ecosystems tend to express a more defensive posture than do lush tropical ecosystems. All ecosystems have relationship elements from across the spectrum but the local emphasis is influenced by the necessities dictated by the environment.

Once behaviors get established, they tend to have their own “nourish and defend” aspects to them. This means behaviors that were once relevant to survive in one environmental circumstance can be carried over and adaptively misapplied in other settings. Renegotiating environmental variables is a necessary part of navigating over time in a changing environment. The impact of organisms can become part of that change agency. Ultimately nature manifests signals experienced by organisms as pain or pleasure to communicate when behaviors lose or gain value but there is an “echo from the past” aspect to these signal patterns. Not everything that worked to get us here is relevant to take us forward. This means we have to undergo sacrificial “pain” to give up established patterns that are no longer adaptive.

The same spectrum of relationships in physical biological systems exists in our human social relationships. The emphasis we express is built on environmental influence factors. An individual raised in a climate characterized heavily by parasitic and predatory relationship behaviors will develop a more defensive profile. The same influence factors apply at cultural levels. How we relate has a certain momentum that tends to make what has already happened more likely to happen again. This is especially true of large or long practiced behaviors. This can make pulling out of maladaptive behavior cycles difficult.

Insights into our behaviors can be applied constructively or destructively. We can apply our understanding toward the vital mutually nourishing end of the spectrum that strengthens the community of relationships we live in and depend on or toward the parasitic and predatory destructive end that diminishes vitality. This application influences our experience.

Understanding and applying this information is the oar we have at our disposal to intentionally influence what we experience. In the absence of this applied understanding, we ride on the experiential whims of ignorance and happenstance. We are defined by the environmental womb that formed us, with no voice in the choir that determines our experience.
There are a variety of opportunities available to us. Some of those within our reach can lay untapped until they are employed. Others are lost unless cultivated during limited windows of opportunity. Seeds out of geographic place or out of season for example.

Social systems, like all coherent systems, require a certain threshold of vital and beneficial cooperative relationship opportunities to be realized to service the integrity of the social group. Beyond this minimum necessity are the opportunities we can cultivate to make our lives more vibrant. Parasitic and predatory behaviors within this cooperative “matrix of necessity” can create a local benefit but diminishes and-or destroys the fabric of necessary cooperative networks. If a system is taxed beyond the threshold of its ability to cope with destructive agents its integrity collapses.

Behaviors at the destructive end of the spectrum demand more devotion of energy to defense. More energy to defense shifts energy away from the cultivation of cooperative opportunities. When our immune system activates, for instance, it shuts down energy devoted to growth, maintenance, digestion processes, and so on. This is to redirect those energies to the negotiation of the perceived stress. This realignment of energy is true within our body but also within and between species, within and between cultures, and between our species and the environment. This is the relationship economy that defines our experience operates.

We can become agents of our poverty on the altar of short-sighted gains or we can nourish our potential depending on whether or not we cultivate our opportunities. Having said that; it is not an easy proposition to overcome the momentum of parasitic, predatory and-or maladaptive behaviors that may be embedded in our nature. These events influence our perception and response profile and shape our experience. This does not mean to suggest opening the floodgates of trust. Extending unwarranted trust to each other is a danger when destructive agents exist in the social economy. Finding the place where we can realize the maximum opportunities that can authentically move forward is the only way we can effectively make progress happen.

If this analysis is correct, or at least useful as a lens to more clearly understand the role we play in experience, what are some ideas on how would we begin disciplining ourselves to strengthen the bonds of integrity we depend on and improve our experience? What would this look like?

Our Place as a Species – Where We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going

This is a take on our current place as a species – where we are, how we got here, and what our future might look like depending on how we negotiate our current situation:

We humans experience things that are geographically near to us differently than if the same incidents happen farther away. We are likely to connect with more emotional intensity to a starving hurt child on our doorstep than we would to tens of thousands suffering half a world away. Our geographic prejudice is understandable considering our biology has been optimized to function in the context of a local tribe. Our senses, including our mental processing faculties, are wired to respond to what we perceive as close to us – what parades in front of and stimulates multiple senses gets more emphasis than stimuli that affect only one or two senses. If we connect to a topic using abstractions, the effects on us are much less than if all our senses are engaged.

The necessity of survival for most of our past was heavily dependent on acting in service of the survival necessities of our local tribe. Without the benefit of the group against the elements, we would almost certainly perish. Because of the residual effects of rejection from the group, which almost certainly meant death for most of our past, to this day we tend to echo these long term embodied memories etched deeply into our biology. For instance; we fear public speaking more than death on average. Our developmental environment as a species shaped the emphasis our senses have, and by extension, the way we process the world – but the world has changed faster than our senses. This unequal progress has caused an out of sync relationship between our senses and the environment we now find ourselves in.

The senses that served us in the local tribe environment make us less equipped and more vulnerable to navigate the necessities of today’s world. As a species, we now have a technology lever that is so powerful we impact the whole Earth. Like a sailor that must get their “sea legs” to be able to walk steadily on a swaying ship, as a species we need to shift our emphasis to the necessities of existing in what is now a global tribe. Our common ground used to be the village, and in a sense it still is, but we now have an additional layer of necessity to contend with the whole Earth.

We were once more defined by the environment but we now have more capacity to also define it. When a child reaches the age of about two-and-a-half, the primary purpose of sleep changes from brain-building to brain maintenance and repair. This same type of developmental transition occurs on many scales. We are at the threshold of this kind of transition as a species. The same way there is a difference in skill sets between constructing a building and maintaining and using it; where scaffolding and tradesmen are replaced by occupants and caretakers, we need to make this transition, yet we are still hungover from the biological momentum of our heritage. Our future increasingly depends on stretching ourselves to fulfill the newly defined necessities of protecting and maintaining our new common ground, which no longer a patch of ground and perhaps a local body of water, it is the whole Earth.

As the size of our “tribes” grew from local bands that could be counted in the tens or hundreds to thousands, then millions and is now arguably the collective billions that inhabit the world, we have undergone a bewildering birthing process. In a comparatively short time (as biological development at a species level goes) the localized tribal wombs that once nourished small pockets of us have now become connected. We are now a collective body. We saturated the former small tribe womb and it can no longer contain us.

Because of our growth, we have been expelled from our former womb into a new, larger, more connected environment that demands different necessities of being. Like a newborn infant, we have to learn all the new skills to function effectively in this new dramatically expanded environment. Where we once had room to survive and grow using a greater emphasis on domination and exploitation, we now must do the harder task of cultivation and curation. We cannot look for more things to take, we must focus on strengthening the things that sustain us – things that return more value than they cost. This is not only where our opportunity exists, it is a necessary action to carry us forward.

We could once work cross purposes, competing against each other but our survival and thriving are now dependent more on the necessity to forge relationships like the organs in our body, nourishing and defending each other. This paradigm shift is because we have now saturated the environment. What got us here will not take us forward since we now swim in the same pond. Cultivating the environment we depend on to produce the necessary fruits of nourishment and as well as cultivating each other to our fullest potential is more necessary. We need specific mindsets and expertise to effectively navigate our more developed state of being. As has always been the case, we must either adapt to this new environmental reality or we will be either violently diminished back to the reduced carrying capacity of an environment or selected out for extinction.

If this analysis is correct:

What would you say we need to do differently on a personal and community scale?

Do you consider yourself a contributor to what will move us forward as a species?

What can we do better as individuals and as groups to help us get our “sea legs” to successfully navigate the necessities of current developmental place as a species?

Is there an objective basis for morality?

Core Values

The short answer is no.

Constructive and destructive is a more accurate way to measure the value of relationship behaviors. Nature measures values on this standard. Moralistic lenses falsely frame values as either good or bad. Nature values things that nourish and defend coherence. Good and bad is irrelevant. Moral lenses can blind us from seeing nature’s relationship economy which we need to navigate effectively.

Relationships bound together as an interdependent network that acts to self nourish and-or defend itself against antagonists is the principle property of coherent structures. Nature is not focused on morals. It is focused on constructive relationships – that nourish and-or defend integrity. Sufficient constructive and-or defensive properties are the engine that defines coherent structures in nature.

Using a constructive-destructive lens renders the world in terms of how relationship behaviors apply to systems. Biological organisms are an example of a coherent system. Infused in our form are object properties that can have both constructive and destructive aspects and change based on context. As an example; we hunger and thirst (which are constructive activities) and our immune system and reflexes, etc. act to defend us against perceived antagonists. This relationship economy is the cost of coherence and is what defines our nature. They are the same thing.

Out of this basic nourish and defend coherence matrix we can see many variant relationship forms. An object’s properties can relate constructively or destructively toward a single system or to all systems within a specified set. They can also be a mixed bag between and within structures. A constructive-destructive lens allows us to see the multiple relationship values as they coexist in all their glorious ambiguity. Each object property is either-or constructive or destructive relative to the necessities of coherence for a given system or systems in a given context. The expression of this relationship economy defines what “is”.

Morality, as we conceptualize it, does not stem from an objective source – it is more a symptomatic expression of our local necessities as we conceive them at a given moment in time. There is no one standard by which to measure “right” and “wrong”. Our perception fluctuates depending on our cultural and environmental experience. This is why concepts of morality fluctuate with things like experience, quirks of biology, culture, and geography.

Nature’s relationship economy is based on a currency of coherency. Relationships that more effectively support coherence in the context of the environment are valued over those less suited to the task. This is the essence of the behavior properties we see expressed through coherent objects. It is also how increasingly coherent objects emerge from relationship fields characterized by less coherent bonds. In effect; nature is a continuous selection process developing ever greater forms of order. Whatever expresses greater coherence value in the context of a variable environment is selected. We are living expressions of this continuous call to order over time.

As a result of nature’s pull toward greater coherence, sophisticated relationship networks emerge that express complex interdependent “nourish and defend” properties. What we experience as our senses and our various biological drives are oriented around this theme. We are structured as stratified layers of behaviors with rigid less flexible, more rigidly embedded behavior expressions at the core and increasingly flexible more adaptable layers toward the surface. The rigid bone structure and the automatic portions of our biological metabolism along with reflexes, instincts and the ability to harness our flesh to navigate certain novel environments coexist together. These object properties operate under a unified banner of things that serve to withstand and navigate the variables of the environment while remaining coherent.

The word morality as we typically use it represents an abstract map of the history of our local necessities. It is related to what we needed to service coherence along with a mix of things find familiar and comforting. We might say eating a certain thing is moral because we needed to eat the thing to survive. We might find another culture that eats things immoral because the practice in unfamiliar to us, or would have been counterproductive in our ancestor’s local context. The variable biological algorithms forged into our species by the necessities of coherence in the context of local environments over time produce the local behavioral necessities. We later rationalize this collection of necessities along with the habitual tailwinds of things once necessary into a moral map. In other words, morality is a symptom of things that happened. Morality is not based on a singular objective standard. This is why different cultures have different moral standards. This rationalization of the necessary and the familiar is what we typically conjure up as our map of “morality”. It is an abstract map that is an afterthought to what we already embody as complex dynamic adaptable coherent objects in nature’s broader environmental context.

As biological creatures, we are structures built by adaptive necessity with a core of less flexible behavioral necessities and increasingly flexible layers toward the surface of our “being”. Our need to eat and drink are examples of these core necessities – these acts of service necessary to remain coherent – require us to behave in specific ways. These necessities of “being” gives rise to a core set of ritual behavior patterns. Our senses and behaviors are essentially tuned acts in service to the necessities of being. We express these acts of service to necessity in many behavioral forms.

As early humans when we were more naked and intimate with the environment we hunted and gathered. We harnessed fire and began cooking. This technology to expand our nutrition sources. Later we began farming and cultivating food. This led to the necessity of defending land and water sources and we later developed notions of property and boundaries laws and governments. Our abstract architecture tracked with the necessities of being. As we continued to renegotiate our place in the context of nature, our moral maps and world view shifted to reflect these changes as well.

We tend to see our necessary acts of service to coherence and the accumulated traditions that this devotion to necessity entails as our birthright. We build our abstract moral framework around these necessities. Morality is more an extension of the necessities of coherence – the biological instruments, music notes and melodies on which the orchestra of our organism’s coherence is built.

We also see the localized necessities of coherence that were forged by the relationship between the currents of community on which we were carried into existence and the environment in which those communities related in a low-resolution map form. Our world view is based on this deeper narrative that is unable to be captured in full resolution. Over time we developed the local social rules by which we now use as the means to accept and-or reject people, behaviors, and things in a community context. Our rationalizations about what is acceptable or not shift with environmental necessities over time. This moral map is another example of nested adaptive layers – these things we accumulate that are useful to navigate the necessities of being. As coherent structures, we are wired to value remaining coherent in the context of the variables of the environment. If this were not so, we would not exist.

As coherent structures, we cannot help but have a nature that is tuned to find nourishment sources and defend our form – a survival instinct. This adaptive process includes moral rationalizations to cope with making rituals and justifying the necessities of being. Our biological drives are built on an economy of coherence and our thought processes are an extension of this. This is why as a species we justify dismantling and eating animals and plants. It is a necessary part of nourishing our form. We rationalize it as our place. We see it as our right when it is, in reality, a necessity of being. Our perception does not stem from an objective set of morals. It is a variable response caused by the necessities of relating to the idiosyncrasies of our developmental environment over time. We are not unique in this respect. Every creature, indeed every object is a reflection of these necessary properties of coherence. Each object can nourish and-or defend coherence. This is the universal theme embedded in all coherent structures. It is the essence of “being”.

The Origin of Meaning and Purpose

Old vintage typewriter

As far as I can tell, the same way we woke up from verbal oblivion as children into an ongoing story, we also did so as a species. We drape our abstract symbols in the form of words and stories over an already ongoing story expressed through nature. Nature is meaningful communication. As natural objects, we are also expressions of this meaning and we also express meaning. In other words; we are made in the image of nature.

The common thread running through all coherent structures in nature is built on the necessary operating principle; behaviors must effectively nourish and defend the integrity of the structure in the context of a variable environment. In other words; there is a necessity of purposeful behaviors that must serve to proportionally nourish and defend coherence for a coherent object to exist in nature. This theme is what defines our nature by necessity. We are built on a “nourish and defend in the context of the environment” theme, otherwise, we would not exist. This is true of all objects in nature whether active or passive.

We had to negotiate to remain coherent in the context of a variable environment which contained intermittent nourishment and various antagonists. This is our history and the story of every coherent entity in nature. This “nourishing and defending” behavioral trait is the essence on which we build our meaning architecture. It is what our verbal language is built on. We build low-resolution abstract maps that stand-in for what is expressed through nature the same way we use the arbitrary word “stone” as an abstract stand-in for a class of objects that could have any name. Various languages have different symbols, but our common object source – nature – is the same. This is where the transcendent theme of meaning infuses all linguistic forms. Even though we use different superficial symbols, we have a common source from which we build our abstract meaning architecture.

Loosely speaking, we translate what is communicated through the object “nature” into subject form. We see a mapping process expressed in the form of the various words, stories, and rituals we act out that become cyclic parts of our individual and cultural identity. Like the spherical cells that build our organs, our ideas form the abstract monuments to this necessary nourish and defend theme that is communicated through nature. Verbal language is the way we frame nature in a symbolic map form. Our maps of meaning represent the territory we must negotiate to nourish and defend ourselves over time. This map – this story representing nature – was formed on the object “nature”. The “story” was already encoded as an ongoing story long before we began decoding it into verbal abstract maps.

Nature communicates meaning (subjects) by way of objects in relationship with each other. We are in a discovery process of this undercurrent of meaning expressed through nature, even if we are unaware of it because we’re lost in our maps – lost in our own little words. We are a reflected image of the inherent value propositions expressed by nature – the proposition of nourish and defend coherency that exists by necessity and defines every coherent collection of relationships – This proposition is; relationships that exist over time are those that contribute some nourishment and-or defensive value to serve the coherency of the whole object in the context of the larger variable environment. Atoms, planets, stars, and galaxies are expressions of this nourish and-or defend necessity, as are organisms.

One of the expressions of this necessary devotion to coherency we see in ourselves is that we must now cultivate the garden that feeds us, otherwise, we starve. We have long since passed nature’s uncultivated carrying capacity. Uncultivated, it cannot support our current population levels. As a result, we must increasingly become active participants in cultivating this the mutualistic relationships that sustain us. Our values and behaviors must support “fruitful” activities. The necessity of behavior and organizational structure varies by context but must follow this common root theme. “Nourish and defend coherency”. This is the grammar on which all language is built.

Our human sociality and various other biological drives, along with language and other forms of memorizing the map of the territory we must negotiate all exist in service of coherence. Breathing, hunger, digestion, our innate reactions to things and all other biologically expressed drives are aligned around this central theme. What we call meaning is an intuitive capacity to capture the ongoing story already expressed by nature in the form of an abstract map. We then nourish and defend our map as part of the same natural inclination to nourish and defend.

The things we are attracted to and repulsed by, and all behavioral expressions we act out are either directly or indirectly are variations on this nourish and defend theme – we are players in the story as long as we effectively attend to this nourish and defend theme in the context of the environment. If we lose our way – if we lose our capacity to nourish and defend coherency in the context of the environment, we are swallowed by something else that does it better. Nature is on a relentless path toward greater coherency. Whether our biological form is transitory or whether it will continue to develop over time as part of the ongoing story depends on whether we are organized around the necessity to proportionally nourish and defend our coherency in the context of the variables of the environment.

Nature’s range of propositions about how to contend with the realities of remaining coherent exists on a spectrum between bloody and bloodier. It is not a proposition between perfect and imperfect. All acts in service of coherence have a sacrificial component to them. We must sacrifice ourselves to the next generation as the next generation must sacrifice itself to the community and so on.

As individuals, finding some nourishing and or protective value to contribute to the larger relationship economy that we live in and depend on is what our biological drives are all about at their core. To align ourselves with this is a recipe for a meaningful life. If we do not, we will live dissatisfied no matter how many trinkets we acquire. This is why we have never met anyone who is both malignantly selfish and satisfied. We’re not wired that way for a reason. It destroys the relationship economy we depend on.

We are expressions of biological and social systems oriented around nourishment and defense, but we also see this expressed in many various forms throughout nature, including microorganisms, which contend with the same propositions on a micro-scale that we do on a macro scale. It is a nested architecture built on a common theme with an infinite variety of possible variations – just like every language is a finite set of symbols that can form an infinite variety of meanings – that can call order from chaos. We appear to be expressions of this common theme.

I could be missing something(s)

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