1. What is Life?
The first chapter focuses on the question of how living matter differs from the inanimate. Many have tried to answer and, most often, the answer was reduced to the idea that living systems differ by the presence of a Soul, which was defined as a special entity, separate from Matter. This idea of an object Soul inside the object Body has existed throughout civilization’s history. It gave rise to theosophy and philosophy’s central question about the relationship between Body and Soul, Matter and Mind. In this way of statement, the question inevitably remains unanswered because it originates from a fundamental mistake of objectification: taking the process inside matter for a unique non-material object.
This error has several reasons, but the chapter focuses on one of them: the lack of a realistic, physically plausible explanation of how Mind works. Without an idea about a mechanism, we are bound to produce illusions of an answer using supernatural entities for filling the gaps in our model’s explanatory base.
The chapter also asks another related question: is living matter special or it can be described based on mechanisms operating in the rest of matter? Of course, it has specific characteristics that allow us to distinguish it and differentiate living from nonliving. But does this mean that there are some special physical laws for life?
The chapter goes back to the seminal paper by Erwin Schrödinger, “What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell,” which is considered the beginning of biophysics. He started from the presumption that a living organism “must obey strict physical laws.” Throughout the book, he was looking for an answer to a question of what these laws are. As one of the founding fathers of Quantum Physics, he failed to find a solution to the question about the mechanism of energy interactions and succumbed to the mainstream idea about the statistical nature of things. But concerning the question about the living systems, Schrödinger denotes two main puzzles: for the statistical principle of the emergence of order from chaos, the number of elements in a living organism is not enough, and the mechanism of atomic bonding to form a system called a molecule is not clear. It is impossible to answer the main question he has put into the book’s title without solving these puzzles.
He looked for some “other laws of physics” for living things but failed there too. He had to pass the baton to future generations of scientists. Many joined the relay, and thus biophysics was born. The chapter shows that despite tremendous efforts these special laws were not found, which brings us back to the question of what Life is.
To get out of this vicious circle, the chapter proposes a simple idea: living systems can be described based on mechanisms operating in the rest of matter. There are no special laws for Life. It just uses what is available – the universal mechanism of energy interactions and the formation of material structures.
The failure of previous models to explain the mechanism in living matter stems from the inability to answer the same question about inanimate one without resorting to non-tangible entities. If we want to find a physical answer to the questions about Life and Mind, we need physical answers to the questions about Matter. Schrödinger wrote: “In biology a single group of atoms produces orderly events, marvelously tuned in with each other and with the environment according to most subtle laws.” We need to show how they tune in without using any marvels of the mainstream physics models that have led us into the dead-end of scientific thought.
2. The Four Elements and the Elixir of Life.
This chapter looks directly at those subtle laws that allow elements to tune in with each other and form living systems. These are not ‘special laws,’ but the elements are indeed special in the sense that they form a unique ensemble that can tune in and play the music of Life. The chapter takes the reader step by step to show how hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen form the quartet of Life and the secret of the mechanism that binds them into organic compounds. Thus, it claims to solve the two main puzzles that Schrödinger referred to.
3. Polyphony and Polyrhythm of Life.
This chapter offers several hypotheses about how the notes and melodies, chords and harmonies, rhythms and tempos of the micro-level create more complex structures of the music of matter at the meso-level of living forms.
4. Biological Rhythms.
The chapter takes a large number of examples of the oscillatory nature of the processes in living matter. It looks at them from the point of view of the Theory of Energy Harmony and offers hypotheses about the dynamics of biological systems. It compares inorganic and organic rhythms and demonstrates that there are no fundamental differences. Only the details differ: the elements involved in the process and their kinetic characteristics, which cause either simple or complex oscillatory and wave behavior. The binding mechanism remains universal, and living systems use it by creating appropriate technological solutions to form stable and adaptive structures.
The chapter goes from simple single-celled organisms to intermediate forms when separate cells temporarily unite into the multicellular structure and finally to complex organisms. From the proposed model perspective, it considers vital intra- and intercell processes down to the subtle details of ion kinetics.
This chapter ponders the question of how this complex orchestra self-regulates. The chapter covers all known periods of biorhythms from milliseconds to years. It stresses that the mechanism does not depend on the type of rhythm and has a universal nature.
6. The Secret of the Harmony of Life.
The living system consists of elements with unique features. But they have intersections of parameters, due to which creation of a structure out of chaos and general harmony is possible. The elements initially have different states, but a common phase space can be achieved due to the universal binding mechanism. This means that it is possible to achieve the state of a single ensemble without an external driving force. The chapter looks at various scenarios of self-organization mechanism showing how they contribute to the integrity of the system.
It also proposes the hypothesis of the main parameters that should be looked at when assessing the system’s state. The living system strives to ensure that all numerous internal degrees of freedom achieve harmonious combinations of the amplitude-frequency characteristics and phase couplings of different system elements for effective interaction and maintaining the system’s adaptive integrity. If the system seeks to create internal harmony, it must be analyzed according to the appropriate criterion of harmony. Reducing the vast parameter space to the main indicators makes sense from the point of view of bringing the model to a form that is convenient for evaluation and is physically justified.
Despite the variety of internal processes carrying different functions and a massive number of elements with distinct traits, the interaction mechanism is fundamentally uniform. The integrated state of a living system results from using this physical mechanism as a way of efficient energy exchange between system elements. It is the secret of the harmony of Life.
7. Phases of the Mind.
Many processes are going on in any living system. One of them, perhaps the most complex one, remains the biggest mystery. It regulates the internal state of the system and creates the dynamics of the external manifestations of this state (behavior), which allows the body to adapt to environmental conditions and function purposefully, maintaining its integrity under a variety of conditions and their changes. We call this process Soul (Mind, Consciousness).
It is not some object ‘sitting’ in the body as a container. It is a physical process in the body. Calling the Mind an immanent process is a significant change from the dualistic approach that existed for thousands of years. It removes the objectification error, but it is just a start. The questions arise. If the Mind is a process, then what kind of process is it? What are the products of the Mind physically? How is this physical process embodied physiologically? How is it carried out technologically?
Finding the answers to these questions modern philosophers call ‘the hard problem of consciousness.’ David Chalmers wrote: “It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises.” The chapter starts the journey into the inner universe of the Mind with the aim to provide a good explanation of not only why and how it arises but also how it works normally and what happens when it is in a dysfunctional state. It is a long trip that will take several volumes, but we have to start somewhere.
First, we should consider general description at the systemic level. Being a process, the Mind has a particular phase space and, thus, its phase portrait can be and should be established. The chapter includes the hypothesis about the ideal phase-space attractor to which a harmonized and integral living system tends. The changes of phases can also be looked at as the manifestation of an ongoing technological process with a definite algorithm. The chapter considers a graphic representation of this algorithm.
8. Levels of the Mind.
Within the framework of the proposed concept, the Mind’s presence is assumed in all living systems, starting with the simplest ones. However, if we talk about the same technological process, it does not mean that it has the same physiological embodiment in different organisms. Obviously, there are various solutions and levels of complexity. This chapter offers a general view on the levels of the Mind strictly from a technological approach: what functions they perform and what products they generate.
9. Definition of the Mind
For any scientific study to be purposeful, it is necessary to determine the object of study. Usually, the object is the phenomenon of the material world at which research is aimed. What happens when it comes to studies of the Mind?
Stuart Sutherland wrote in the Macmillan Dictionary of Psychology: “The term is impossible to define except in terms that are unintelligible without a grasp of what consciousness means. Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon: it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it has evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written on it.”
It is amazing: the dictionary of science named “knowledge of the mind” (from Greek psyche-logos) cannot define the central object of its research. The chapter tries to change this long tradition. Behind every word of the proposed definition there are specific physical, physiological processes, technologies and algorithms that create the phenomenon of the Mind. The author hopes it will be worth reading. The same goes for the following books that specify what it is, why it has evolved, what and how it does. The object of study (Mind as a process) will be analyzed in parts (subjects of research as process elements) and synthesized into an integrated model.
10. A New Look at the Functions of the Mind.
Based on the precise definition of the Mind, which describes the internal physical, physiological and technological aspects of this process, we can look at the functions of the carrier substrate in general and its elements in particular. In higher animals, this substrate is the nervous system, as a specialized population of cells of multicellular organisms. The nervous system is an ensemble of elements that transduce signals from the internal and external environment, create representations, and combine them into a coherent model of reality that allows a living system to adapt and maintain its viability.
The chapter offers an entirely new look at the functions of these elements from a purely technological point of view within the proposed hypotheses about the essence of the Mind as a process. The keywords in all of the hypotheses are ‘signal transduction.’ That is why the proposed model is called Teleological Transduction Theory, and the following volumes are devoted to its further elaboration.