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By Ludwig von Bertalanffy

2014 Reprint of unique 1962 American version. distinctive facsimile of the unique version, now not reproduced with Optical attractiveness software program. this crucial creation to theoretical biology is a vintage paintings in its box. Already within the 1930's Bertalanffy formulated the organismic procedure thought that later grew to become the kernel of the GST (General platforms Theory]. GST is an interdisciplinary perform that describes structures with interacting elements, appropriate to biology, cybernetics, and different fields. Bertalanffy proposed that the classical legislation of thermodynamics utilized to closed platforms, yet now not inevitably to "open systems," comparable to dwelling issues. His mathematical version of an organism's progress through the years continues to be in use this day.

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Into these we cannot enter here, and must refer the reader to our Theoretische Biologie. In what follows we shall use the term 'mechanism' for the physico-chcmical interpretation of vital processes. A circumstance which has still further contributed to complicate the situation is the frequency with which the standpoints of natural science and metaphysics are confused. For the scientist the only question is what principles of explanation are necessary and sufficient for vital processes; in other words, whether the hypotheses and laws of physics suffice in principle for the explanation of biological facts.

For in this theory, although psychological interpretations are avoided, every attempt to give the entelechy principle a concrete content can only lead to psychological analogies. The historical merit of vitalism has been its recognition of the unity, harmony, regulation, and 'wholeness' of life which, as we have seen, is misunderstood and suppressed in the mechanistic view. The fundamental objection to it is that it bars the way to an investigation of these basic features of organisms by means of natural science, because it bases organic wholeness on transcendent factors which 'in the last resort are analogous to the psyche.

Driesch has repeatedly been charged with the purely negative characterization of his entelechy. The entelechia morphogenetica is neither substance nor energy, nor a constant; it is not spatial but acts into space; it is said to be 'unimaginable', it can only be 'conceived'. The entelechia psychoidea, which is involved in instinct, is an entity which, although not a psyche, can only be discussed in psychological analogies. Driesch himself must admit that the definition of entelechy is merely a complicated system of negations.

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Modern theories of development: an introduction to theoretical biology by Ludwig von Bertalanffy

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