By Ludwig von Bertalanffy
2014 Reprint of unique 1962 American variation. targeted facsimile of the unique variation, now not reproduced with Optical reputation software program. this crucial creation to theoretical biology is a vintage paintings in its box. Already within the 1930's Bertalanffy formulated the organismic process idea that later turned the kernel of the GST (General structures Theory]. GST is an interdisciplinary perform that describes structures with interacting parts, appropriate to biology, cybernetics, and different fields. Bertalanffy proposed that the classical legislation of thermodynamics utilized to closed platforms, yet no longer unavoidably to "open systems," comparable to residing issues. His mathematical version of an organism's development through the years continues to be in use this present day.
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But naturally the task of theoretical biology is by no means exhausted by such a sifting of theories. Its last aim is to establish a unitary system. And in order to be clear about what this entails, it is necessary to inquire into the way in which a scientific theory is built up. For this purpose we can make use of the excellent account given by Kraft (1926). 'It is a common opinion that the principles underlying scientific theories are to be derived "from experience". But a closer study of highly developed theoretical systems shows the complete falsity of this view.
It is worthy of note that this most subtle and ingenious of all modern mechanists fully recognizes this, and saves his theory only by the assumption of the cosmic eternity of the 'living machines'. On the other hand, the assumption that organisms are machines is often used by vitalists for the proof of their own theories (see below, p. 44). But the machine theory is not only logically contradictory, 38 FOUNDATIONS OF THE ORGANISMIC THEORY it is, in the second place, untenable in the face of the actual data.
Moreover, the Selection hypothesis does not even do what it set out to do, since it is itself only 'pseudo-mechanistic' in character. It cer-: tainly excludes purposive forces, but it is a great misunderstanding to suppose that for that reason the selection principle possesses any sort of similarity to the laws found in physics. 'Purposefulness' is the guiding notion of the supposedly mechanistic Darwinism, but what physicist ever uses this notion? e. in a low form of teleology. The existence of a naive value judgement, so different from the point of view of physics, is revealed, for example, by Plate when he gives, as a reason why we cannot speak of 'adaptation' in relation to the inorganic, that 'with the word adaptation we connect a judgement of value.
Modern theories of development: an introduction to theoretical biology by Ludwig von Bertalanffy