Living Systems - Theory

Theory

Living systems theory is a general theory about the existence of all living systems, their structure, interaction, behavior and development. This work is created by James Grier Miller, which was intended to formalize the concept of life. According to Miller's original conception as spelled out in his magnum opus Living Systems, a "living system" must contain each of twenty "critical subsystems", which are defined by their functions and visible in numerous systems, from simple cells to organisms, countries, and societies. In Living Systems Miller provides a detailed look at a number of systems in order of increasing size, and identifies his subsystems in each. Miller considers living systems as a subset of all systems. Below the level of living systems, he defines space and time, matter and energy, information and entropy, levels of organization, and physical and conceptual factors, and above living systems ecological, planetary and solar systems, galaxies, etc.

Living systems according to Parent (1996) are by definition "open self-organizing systems that have the special characteristics of life and interact with their environment. This takes place by means of information and material-energy exchanges. Living systems can be as simple as a single cell or as complex as a supranational organization such as the European Union. Regardless of their complexity, they each depend upon the same essential twenty subsystems (or processes) in order to survive and to continue the propagation of their species or types beyond a single generation".

Miller said that systems exist at eight "nested" hierarchical levels: cell, organ, organism, group, organization, community, society, and supranational system. At each level, a system invariably comprises twenty critical subsystems, which process matter–energy or information except for the first two, which process both matter–energy and information: reproducer and boundary.

The processors of matter–energy are:

  • ingestor, distributor, converter, producer, storage, extruder, motor, supporter

The processors of information are

  • input transducer, internal transducer, channel and net, timer (added later), decoder, associator, memory, decider, encoder, output transducer.

Read more about this topic:  Living Systems

Famous quotes containing the word theory:

    Lucretius
    Sings his great theory of natural origins and of wise conduct; Plato
    smiling carves dreams, bright cells
    Of incorruptible wax to hive the Greek honey.
    Robinson Jeffers (1887–1962)

    Every theory is a self-fulfilling prophecy that orders experience into the framework it provides.
    Ruth Hubbard (b. 1924)

    The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow and the men who lend.
    Charles Lamb (1775–1834)