Nature's Holism (condensed - 9)
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"Every weather pattern, every cold front is different from all its predecessors. And yet . . . the Nile doesn't freeze, and London is not subject to the monsoon" (Rosenhead, 1999).

Complexity as a science relates to structure and order that are to be found between the condition of total randomness (chaos) and total order. Complex systems are organised. The significance of chaos and complexity within the context of this book is that this separate and independent route arrives at similar conclusions concerning ecosystems and compatibility. Widgets

"When nonlinearity becomes important, it is no longer possible to proceed by analysis, because the whole is now greater than the sum of its parts. Non-linear systems can display a rich and complex repertoire of behaviour, and do unexpected things - they can, for example, go chaotic . . . There are many other examples of what might be called the holistic character of non-linear systems (Davies & Gribbin, 1992)."

"My own opinion is that emergent laws of complexity offer reasonable hope for a better understanding not only of biogenesis, but of biological evolution too" (Davies, 1999).

Chaos errupts when a system exceeds inherent limits.

After the below short summary, go the full document.


  edge of chaos

"You don't see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it." (Shaw, "echoing Thomas S. Kuhn" in Gleick, 1988). "Chaos and complexity are chasing each other around in a circle trying to find out if they are the same or different" (Chris Langton in Lewin, 1993).

"To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: "Be," and it is. (QsIIv117) (QsVI,v101). "And God created the heavens and the earth with truth, so that every life may find reward (recompense) for what it did. And no injustice will be done" (QsXXVv22).

I learned the material here mostly from Gleick, (1987) and  Lewin, (1993).


Complexity as a science relates to structure and order that are to be found between the condition of total randomness (chaos) and total order. Complex systems are organised. The significance of chaos and complexity within the context of this book is that this separate and independent route arrives at similar conclusions concerning ecosystems and compatibility.

A living system has constraints or boundary conditions. Ecosystems provide the necessary conditions for the mechanism of feedback between associated organisms and their physical environment. An ecosystem is a dynamic system in which specific species may appear to be engaged in a brutal struggle for survival of the fittest, but as a complex non-linear system, has a deterministic outcome. Creatures evolve within the interacting constraints of perpetuity (population numbers and growth rate) and compatibility (ecosystem stability) and the outcome is a compromise between the two. The constraints that an animal encounters depends upon the part of the whole with which it interacts. The animal that destroys its particular niche will have exceeded the constraints defining the association and become extinct. These constraints bind an animal's behaviour and physical form. A feedback from resource availability affects the individual organism. The interaction is an organism-resource or organism-environment interaction.

The ultimate effect of environmental constraints, through any process, is a decrease in reproductive output. Ecosystems are driven by the continual production of offspring and damped by constraints conferring habitat stability, including mortality. While the weather may be described as a "PHYSICAL process", the chaotic dynamics of living systems are "evolutionary". Physical systems do not coevolve, but in biological systems, long-associated species adapt to each other through evolution.

The aggregate behaviour of individuals within an ecosystem results in the emergence of compatibility and the associated stability of the ecosystem. This emerges as the result of constraints upon the living components of the system. Those animals that deviate from the dynamic constraints are rapidly eliminated through death. As the system consists of living and nonliving components, natural selection leads to the survival of interdependent species. In the holistic ecosystem there are interacting and interdependent organisms that depend upon a stable habitat for their perpetuity. Behavioural mechanisms, which result in what I call compatibility, provide this property of stability. Natural interactions between organisms within ecosystems are constrained and defined by the perpetuity-compatibility association.

incremental increase

In fig 11 there is a slow incremental increase in the growth rate (r) of the population over time. There is an initial, rapid increase in population numbers. In this region resources or the carrying capacity of the habitat does not limit the growth rate, but only intrinsic rate of increase of the population. The organism has biological limits to the number of offspring that it can produce. Then the curve flattens as the effect of environmental limits comes into effect. This is caused by a feedback from the environment. As the growth rate does not respond sufficiently, the animal's numbers explode into chaos as they approach the carrying capacity of the habitat. At one point extinction occurs. Through a response to feedback from the environment, a population usually remains within the area before the "chaotic explosion" as this is both predictable and sustainable. Natural selection determines the reproductive strategy of the organism.

Compatibility is the result of an interaction. Without an interaction no compatibility is measurable. The compatibility VALUE IS A RELATIVE VALUE. Compatibility revolves around the energetic costs of interactions. Interactive costs need to be balanced against the interactive benefit. Such a value has to be a statistical probability. Compatibility leads to ecosystem stability. AN ANIMAL INTERACTS WITH ITS ENVIRONMENT, BIOTIC AND ABIOTIC, AND NATURAL SELECTION ACTS IN THIS PROCESS FORCING THE ANIMALS TO  EVOLVE AND ADAPT TO THE INTERACTIVE REALM, BE THIS A CONSTANT OR DYNAMIC, BIOTIC OR ABIOTIC INFLUENCE. AS THE CONSTRAINTS OF THE DYNAMIC SYSTEM CHANGE, SO THE ASSOCIATED SPECIES HAVE TO CHANGE. THE DARWINIAN PROCESS OF NATURAL SELECTION ACTING UPON NATURAL VARIATION WITHIN THE POPULATION PROVIDES THIS CHANGE. The survivors evolve within the context of the whole. COLLECTIVE ADAPTATION TO SELFISH ENDS PRODUCES THE MAXIMUM AVERAGE FITNESS, EACH SPECIES IN THE CONTEXT OF OTHERS. Complexity is then the theory of complex adaptive systems.


Note that the next section on holism has 14 jpg. images embedded into it. These are a necessary part of the text. Please have patience downloading this section. Chaos document with thumbnail graphics.


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