Funksie en doel in lewende organismes: uit die perspektief van kompleksiteitsdenkers en biologie-filosowe

Malan, Tanja (2016-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this thesis is to revisit and rethink the two concepts: function and purpose. These two concepts are often confused with each other and are sometimes even used synonymously. I find this study necessary to distinguish between the two concepts as well as to find their similarities. To expand on the concept of function, I will rely heavily on ideas from biology, and will make use of the works of Robert Rosen (1991) as a point of departure. Even though I will use literature from complexity thinkers, such as Edgar Morin (1992, 2006a, 2006b, 2008) and Paul Cilliers (2000, 2005), to elaborate and to support Rosen’s ideas, the literature used in this thesis will mostly consist of biology-philosophers and will not be strictly philosophical. The concept of function appears in Rosen’s book Life itself (1991) and the concept of purpose appears in the book Anticipatory systems (2012). The book, Anticipatory systems (2012), is very technical in nature and I will therefore use the works of Roberto Poli (1972, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014), who builds on Rosen’s ideas, to elaborate on the idea of purpose. Rethinking the concepts, function and purpose, will be of little value without revisiting Aristotle’s ideas about these concepts. Aristotle’s idea regarding the four causes will be of great help in distinguishing between these concepts, as well as Rosen’s further elaboration on Aristotle’s four causes. I argue that the item in question2 does not have an absolute function. By using the relational biology approach to function, which emphasize the rich and dynamic interaction between components of a system, I will argue that function can only be determined in a context, hence it is context dependent. If the context of the item in question changes, its interactions change and therefore makes it possible to have a different function in that context, or even no function at all. This approach moves away from a normative view of function which tries to determine what the function of an item in question should be, but rather determines what the function of an item in question is within a context. How we can determine the function of an item in question will also be discussed. Purpose is different to function because it incorporates the idea of the future. A living organism sets a purpose for herself that she would like to achieve in the future. The future is not something tangible that has a direct influence on the present, but I will argue that we pull the idea of the future into the present in what can be called the present model of the future. Purpose, I will further argue, is an anticipatory model which living organisms set in the present to make decisions in that present based on that model. These anticipatory models can be updated, thus purpose, as in the case of function, is not absolute but always provisional. 2 The item in question will refer throughout this thesis to that item which we are determining the function of, whether the item in question is an object, a non-living system, or a living system.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis is om die twee konsepte, funksie en doel, te herbesoek en te herbesin. Hierdie twee konsepte word verwarrend en somtyds verwisselend met mekaar gebruik en daarom vind ek ʼn nadere bestudering van die twee konsepte noodsaaklik. In my uitbreiding oor funksies gaan ek veral gebruik maak van idees in biologie. Ek gaan veral van die skrywe van Robert Rosen (1991) gebruik maak as uitgangspunt. Alhoewel ek van kompleksiteitsdenkers se literatuur gebruik maak, soos Edgar Morin (1992, 2006a, 2006b, 2008) en Paul Cilliers (2000, 2005), om Rosen se idee aan te vul en te ondersteun, sal die literatuur grotendeels dié wees van biologie-filosowe en nie streng filosofies nie. Die twee vernaamste boeke waarin Rosen die twee begrippe, funksie en doel, verduidelik is Life itself (1991) en Anticipatory systems (2012) onderskeidelik. Die laasgenoemde boek is tegnies van aard en gaan ek die werke van Roberto Poli (1972, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014) gebruik wat op Rosen se idee van antisipasie uitbrei. ʼn Herbesinning oor die onderwerpe, funksie en doel, is nie volwaardig indien die werke van Aristoteles nie ook herbesoek word nie. Aristoteles se idee oor die vier oorsaaklikheidsverduidelikings gaan van vele nut wees om die twee terme van mekaar te skei, veral hoe Rosen op hierdie idee van Aristoteles uitbrei as sisteme ter sprake is. Ek argumenteer dat ʼn item ter sprake1 nie ʼn absolute funksie vervul nie. Met behulp van die relasionelebiologiebenadering, wat klem plaas op die dinamiese en ryk interaksie tussen komponente in ʼn sisteem, voer ek aan dat funksie konteksgebonde is. Indien die konteks verander is dit moontlik vir die item om ʼn ander funksie te vervul, of selfs geen funksie meer nie. Hierdie benadering beweeg weg van ʼn normatiewe siening oor funksie wat beweer wat ʼn funksie van ʼn item behoort te wees, maar bepaal eerder die funksie binne ʼn sekere konteks en wat dit werklik is. Hoe ons die funksie van ʼn item kan bepaal word ook verduidelik. Anders as funksie, inkorporeer doel die idee van die toekoms. ʼn Lewende organisme stel vir haar ʼn doel wat sy graag wil bereik in die toekoms. Eerder om die toekoms te beskou as iets tasbaars wat ʼn invloed het op die hede, argumenteer ek in hierdie tesis dat die idee van die toekoms in die hede ingetrek word en wat beskou word as ʼn huidige model van die toekoms. Doel, sal ek aanvoer is ʼn antisiperende model wat lewende organismes in die hede skep om so dus besluite te maak op grond van die idee van die toekoms. Antisiperende modelle is opdateerbaar, en soos in die geval van funksie, is dit nie absoluut nie maar eerder voorlopig. 1 Die item ter sprake sal deurgaans in hierdie tesis verwys na die spesifieke voorwerp, lewende organisme of nie-lewende sisteem wie/wat ons die funksie van wil bepaal.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98489
This item appears in the following collections: