It's My Copy, Right?
Musings to put on the record as mine, and whether for my good or my bad, from no-one else's muse that I know of:
Life: A self-sustaining chemical reaction (or energy system) with predictive expectations.
These are purposive expectations, the interaction of which is causative in forming a strategy or strategies, as well as in adjusting all of these, as expectations are changed through trial and error experience. Their goal(s) would initially be to acquire and restore energy - because the impetus to attain that goal is thus purposive.
The strategies that develop from the mix of purpose, expectations and environment can account as well for abilities of organisms to have divergent traits and be amenable to natural selection.
Excerpted from comments about The Origin and Evolution of Life on NASA's Planetary Biology Program website, http://cmex.ihmc.us/VikingCD/Puzzle/Evolife.htm:
"Interactions between various substances and energy yielded the autocatalytic systems capable of passing information from one generation to the next, and the thread of life began."
So is a life form also to be defined as an entity that needs or has a strategy for the survival of its species? Is not this "information" a component of strategy - does not a strategy require information as a determinant for action as well as information being the determinant of strategy?
And then can we not, for fairly obvious reasons that I intend to expand on at a later date, add to our definition as follows:
Life forms - self-sustaining strategic entities. Their forms and constituent elements are all a part of that strategy.
The implication being that evolution involves a selection for successful strategies as much as for anything else.
So if added to the initial definition here, we get something like this:
Life: A self-sustaining chemical reaction (or energy system) with strategic parameters and predictive expectations.
Putting it (in my view) succinctly:
Life forms are strategic constructs. The forms shape their strategies and strategies in turn shape their forms. The accidental juxtapositions with time and place shape their differences.
And tell me that red crest isn't a strategic component of that little moocher on the upper right.
(Proviso: This was not intended as a semantic retooling of the autopoiesis or "auto (self)-creation" concept - which, although supportive, is not in my view similarly concerned with the reciprocity of strategic processes, or with the underlying strategic intelligence dynamic that I will be proposing.)
And then there's Carl Zimmer's book on parasites, Parasite Rex : Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures, where reviews have his descriptions of how adaptive parasites are. Once considered similar to other predators, it's now evident they have developed the talent of making "prey" come to them. Unlike animals we are familiar with, most parasites have greatly varied body forms as they go through the phases of their lives. It was first thought these changes were representative of different species, until it was recently demonstrated that "these creatures changed shape and function dramatically as they changed living environments."
In short, it seems we have in these parasite behaviors some of the best examples available of strategic forms matching up with other such strategic structures, all manipulating each other and themselves in the process, some gaining an advantage (or so it would appear) but nevertheless with all strategies and their material entities evolving - and clear evidence that intelligence is the driving force of evolution, as strategies are nothing if not intelligent.
And here's a teaser, as a portent of things to come: