The genetic code appeared on Earth with the first cells. The codes of cultural evolution arrived almost four billion years later. These are the only codes that are recognized by modern biology. In this book, however, Marcello Barbieri explains that there are many more organic codes in nature, and their appearance not only took place throughout the history of life but marked the major steps of that history. A code establishes a correspondence between two independent 'worlds', and the codemaker (...) is a third party between those 'worlds'. Therefore the cell can be thought of as a trinity of genotype, phenotype and ribotype. The ancestral ribotypes were the agents which gave rise to the first cells. The book goes on to explain how organic codes and organic memories can be used to shed new light on the problems encountered in cell signalling, epigenesis, embryonic development, and the evolution of language. (shrink)
Biosemiotics is the synthesis of biology and semiotics, and its main purpose is to show that semiosis is a fundamental component of life, i.e., that signs and meaning exist in all living systems. This idea started circulating in the 1960s and was proposed independently from enquires taking place at both ends of the Scala Naturae. At the molecular end it was expressed by Howard Pattee’s analysis of the genetic code, whereas at the human end it took the form of Thomas (...) Sebeok’s investigation into the biological roots of culture. Other proposals appeared in the years that followed and gave origin to different theoretical frameworks, or different schools, of biosemiotics. They are: (1) the physical biosemiotics of Howard Pattee and its extension in Darwinian biosemiotics by Howard Pattee and by Terrence Deacon, (2) the zoosemiotics proposed by Thomas Sebeok and its extension in sign biosemiotics developed by Thomas Sebeok and by Jesper Hoffmeyer, (3) the code biosemiotics of Marcello Barbieri and (4) the hermeneutic biosemiotics of Anton Markoš. The differences that exist between the schools are a consequence of their different models of semiosis, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. In reality they go much deeper and concern the very nature of the new discipline. Is biosemiotics only a new way of looking at the known facts of biology or does it predict new facts? Does biosemiotics consist of testable hypotheses? Does it add anything to the history of life and to our understanding of evolution? These are the major issues of the young discipline, and the purpose of the present paper is to illustrate them by describing the origin and the historical development of its main schools. (shrink)
Thomas Sebeok and Noam Chomsky are the acknowledged founding fathers of two research fields which are known respectively as Biosemiotics and Biolinguistics and which have been developed in parallel during the past 50 years. Both fields claim that language has biological roots and must be studied as a natural phenomenon, thus bringing to an end the old divide between nature and culture. In addition to this common goal, there are many other important similarities between them. Their definitions of language, for (...) example, have much in common, despite the use of different terminologies. They both regard language as a faculty, or a modelling system, that appeared rapidly in the history of life and probably evolved as an exaptation from previous animal systems. Both accept that the fundamental characteristic of language is recursion, the ability to generate an unlimited number of structures from a finite set of elements (the property of ‘discrete infinity’). Both accept that human beings are born with a predisposition to acquire language in a few years and without apparent efforts (the innate component of language). In addition to similarities, however, there are also substantial differences between the two fields, and it is an historical fact that Sebeok and Chomsky made no attempt at resolving them. Biosemiotics and Biolinguistics have become two separate disciplines, and yet in the case of language they are studying the same phenomenon, so it should be possible to bring them together. Here it is shown that this is indeed the case. A convergence of the two fields does require a few basic readjustments in each of them, but leads to a unified framework that keeps the best of both disciplines and is in agreement with the experimental evidence. What is particularly important is that such a framework suggests immediately a new approach to the origin of language. More precisely, it suggests that the brain wiring processes that take place in all phases of human ontogenesis (embryonic, foetal, infant and child development) are based on organic codes, and it is the step-by-step appearance of these brain-wiring codes, in a condition that is referred to as cerebra bifida, that holds the key to the origin of language. (shrink)
Today there are two major theoretical frameworks in biology. One is the ‘chemical paradigm’, the idea that life is an extremely complex form of chemistry. The other is the ‘information paradigm’, the view that life is not just ‘chemistry’ but ‘chemistry-plus-information’. This implies the existence of a fundamental difference between information and chemistry, a conclusion that is strongly supported by the fact that information and information-based-processes like heredity and natural selection simply do not exist in the world of chemistry. Against (...) this conclusion, the supporters of the chemical paradigm have pointed out that information processes are no different from chemical processes because they are both described by the same physical quantities. They may appear different, but this is only because they take place in extremely complex systems. According to the chemical paradigm, in other words, biological information is but a shortcut term that we use to avoid long descriptions of countless chemical reactions. It is intuitively appealing, but it does not represent a new ontological entity. It is merely a derived construct, a linguistic metaphor. The supporters of the information paradigm insist that information is a real and fundamental entity of Nature, but have not been able to prove this point. The result is that the chemical view has not been abandoned and the two paradigms are both coexisting today. Here it is shown that an alternative does exist and is a third theoretical framework that is referred to as the ‘code paradigm’. The key point is that we need to introduce in biology not only the concept of information but also that of meaning because any code is based on meaning and a genetic code does exist in every cell. The third paradigm is the view that organic information and organic meaning exist in every living system because they are the inevitable results of the processes of copying and coding that produce genes and proteins. Their true nature has eluded us for a long time because they are nominable entities, i.e., objective and reproducible observables that can be described only by naming their components in their natural order. They have also eluded us because nominable entities exist only in artifacts and biologists have not yet come to terms with the idea that life is artifact making. This is the idea that life arose from matter and yet it is fundamentally different from it because inanimate matter is made of spontaneous structures whereas life is made of manufactured objects. It will be shown, furthermore, that the existence of information and meaning in living systems is documented by the standard procedures of science. We do not have to abandon the scientific method in order to introduce meaning in biology. All we need is a science that becomes fully aware of the existence of organic codes in Nature. (shrink)
Systems Biology and the Modern Synthesis are recent versions of two classical biological paradigms that are known as structuralism and functionalism, or internalism and externalism. According to functionalism (or externalism), living matter is a fundamentally passive entity that owes its organization to external forces (functions that shape organs) or to an external organizing agent (natural selection). Structuralism (or internalism), is the view that living matter is an intrinsically active entity that is capable of organizing itself from within, with purely internal (...) processes that are based on mathematical principles and physical laws. At the molecular level, the basic mechanism of the Modern Synthesis is molecular copying, the process that leads in the short run to heredity and in the long run to natural selection. The basic mechanism of Systems Biology, instead, is self-assembly, the process by which many supramolecular structures are formed by the spontaneous aggregation of their components. In addition to molecular copying and self-assembly, however, molecular biology has uncovered also a third great mechanism at the heart of life. The existence of the genetic code and of many other organic codes in Nature tells us that molecular coding is a biological reality and we need therefore a framework that accounts for it. This framework is Code biology, the study of the codes of life, a new field of research that brings to light an entirely new dimension of the living world and gives us a completely new understanding of the origin and the evolution of life. (shrink)
The existence of different types of semiosis has been recognized, so far, in two ways. It has been pointed out that different semiotic features exist in different taxa and this has led to the distinction between zoosemiosis, phytosemiosis, mycosemiosis, bacterial semiosis and the like. Another type of diversity is due to the existence of different types of signs and has led to the distinction between iconic, indexical and symbolic semiosis. In all these cases, however, semiosis has been defined by the (...) Peirce model, i.e., by the idea that the basic structure is a triad of ‘sign, object and interpretant’, and that interpretation is an essential component of semiosis. This model is undoubtedly applicable to animals, since it was precisely the discovery that animals are capable of interpretation that allowed Thomas Sebeok to conclude that they are also capable of semiosis. Unfortunately, however, it is not clear how far the Peirce model can be extended beyond the animal kingdom, and we already know that we cannot apply it to the cell. The rules of the genetic code have been virtually the same in all living systems and in all environments ever since the origin of life, which clearly shows that they do not depend on interpretation. Luckily, it has been pointed out that semiosis is not necessarily based on interpretation and can be defined exclusively in terms of coding. According to the ‘code model’, a semiotic system is made of signs, meanings and coding rules, all produced by the same codemaker, and in this form it is immediately applicable to the cell. The code model, furthermore, allows us to recognize the existence of many organic codes in living systems, and to divide them into two main types that here are referred to as manufacturing semiosis and signalling semiosis. The genetic code and the splicing codes, for example, take part in processes that actually manufacture biological objects, whereas signal transduction codes and compartment codes organize existing objects into functioning supramolecular structures. The organic codes of single cells appeared in the first three billion years of the history of life and were involved either in manufacturing semiosis or in signalling semiosis. With the origin of animals, however, a third type of semiosis came into being, a type that can be referred to as interpretive semiosis because it became closely involved with interpretation. We realize in this way that the contribution of semiosis to life was far greater than that predicted by the Peirce model, where semiosis is always a means of interpreting the world. Life is essentially about three things: (1) it is about manufacturing objects, (2) it is about organizing objects into functioning systems, and (3) it is about interpreting the world. The idea that these are all semiotic processes, tells us that life depends on semiosis much more deeply and extensively than we thought. We realize in this way that there are three distinct types of semiosis in Nature, and that they gave very different contributions to the origin and the evolution of life. (shrink)
The discovery of the genetic code has shown that the origin of life has also been the origin of semiosis, and the discovery of many other organic codes has indicated that organic semiosis has been the sole form of semiosis present on Earth in the first three thousand million years of evolution. With the origin of animals and the evolution of the brain, however, a new type of semiosis came into existence, a semiosis that is based on interpretation and is (...) commonly referred to as interpretive, or Peircean semiosis. This suggests that there are two distinct types of semiosis in Nature, one based on coding and one based on interpretation, and all the experimental evidence that we have does support this conclusion. Both in principle and in practice, therefore, there is no conflict between organic semiosis and Peircean semiosis, and yet they have been the object of a fierce controversy because it has been claimed that semiosis is always based on interpretation, even at the cellular level. Such a claim has recently been reproposed in a number of papers and it has become necessary therefore to reexamine it in the light of the proposed arguments. (shrink)
There are currently three major theories on the origin and evolution of the genetic code: the stereochemical theory, the coevolution theory, and the error-minimization theory. The first two assume that the genetic code originated respectively from chemical affinities and from metabolic relationships between codons and amino acids. The error-minimization theory maintains that in primitive systems the apparatus of protein synthesis was extremely prone to errors, and postulates that the genetic code evolved in order to minimize the deleterious effects of the (...) translation errors. This article describes a fourth theory which starts from the hypothesis that the ancestral genetic code was ambiguous and proposes that its evolution took place with a mechanism that systematically reduced its ambiguity and eventually removed it altogether. This proposal is distinct from the stereochemical and the coevolution theories because they do not contemplate any ambiguity in the genetic code, and it is distinct from the error-minimization theory because ambiguity-reduction is fundamentally different from error-minimization. The concept of ambiguity-reduction has been repeatedly mentioned in the scientific literature, but so far it has remained only an abstract possibility because no model has been proposed for its mechanism. Such a model is described in the present article and may be the first step in a new approach to the study of the evolution of the genetic code. (shrink)
We give in this paper indications about the dynamical impact coming from the main sources of perturbation in biological regulatory networks. First, we define the boundary of the interaction graph expressing the regulations between the main elements of the network . Then, we search what changes in the state values on the boundary could cause some changes of states in the core of the system . After, we analyse the role of the mode of updating on the asymptotics of the (...) network, essentially on the occurrence of limit cycles . Finally, we show the influence of some topological changes on the dynamical behaviour of the system. (shrink)
Coding characteristics have been discovered not only in protein synthesis, but also in various other natural processes, thus showing that the genetic code is not an isolated case in the organic world. Other examples are the sequence codes, the adhesion code, the signal transduction codes, the splicing codes, the sugar code, the histone code, and probably more. These discoveries however have not had a significant impact because of the widespread belief that organic codes are not real but metaphorical entities. They (...) are supposed to lack arbitrariness and codemakers, the two qualifying features of real codes. Here it is shown that the arbitrariness issue can be solved on an experimental basis, while the codemaker issue is dependent on our theoretical description of the cell and can only be solved by a new concept. In order to appreciate the reality of the organic codes, in short, it is necessary to have not only a more critical evaluation of the experimental data but also a new theory of the living system. (shrink)
Patients suffering from schizophrenia have an impaired meta-representation also known as Theory of Mind . Moreover, the presence of delusions or other positive symptoms of schizophrenia has been correlated to poor ToM performances. Lack of insight is a common symptom of schizophrenia and can be considered a critical manifestation of impaired ToM abilities. In particular, the present study addresses the role of perspective ToM ability in schizophrenic patients. Thirty severely delusional schizophrenic patients completely lack insight when interviewed about their delusions. (...) Seven subsequently gain insight about their mental state when perspective is shifted from the first person to third person. These data suggest that in some delusional schizophrenic patients, it may be possible to gain access to and modify their mental states. (shrink)
It is shown that information and meaning can be defined by operative procedures, and that we need to recognize them as new types of natural entities. They are not quantities (neither fundamental nor derived) because they cannot be measured, and they are not qualities because they are not subjective features. Here it is proposed to call them nominable entities, i.e., entities which can be specified only by naming their components in their natural order.
Durante a formação, estudantes são constantemente expostos a estressores que, se persistentes, podem ocasionar a Síndrome de Burnout (SB). Considerando a importância dessa demanda, este estudo teve como objetivo identificar diferenças nas dimensões da SB em relação ao ano e turno em estudantes de Ps..
Dados da tradução brasileira de HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Linhas Fundamentais da Filosofia do Direito ou Direito Natural e Ciência do Estado em Compêndio. Tradução, notas, glossário e bibliografia de Paulo Meneses et alli. Apresentações de Denis Lerrer Rosenfield e de Paulo Roberto Konzen. São Paulo: Loyola; São Leopoldo: UNISINOS, 2010.
This study investigates the possible effects of pre-term births and low birth weight on infant mortality rates (IMRs) over a 15-year period in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, based on surveys carried out in 1978/79 and 1994. The 1978/79 survey included 6750 births over a 12-month period and the 1994 survey 2846 births over a 4-month period. Infant deaths were retrieved monthly from the city register. Infant mortality rate decreased from 36·6 to 16·9 deaths per 1000 over 15 years. The decrease in (...) IMR was larger in the 25000·63); it increased to 0·57 (95% CI 0·350·97) when adjusted for length of gestation and other variables. The increase in pre-term births and low birth weight may have had, at most, a marginal effect on the IMR. Progress in the care of newborns may have decreased the mortality risk, but even mild pre-term birth still has an impact on infant mortality. There is room for further improvement in IMR by tackling the high rates of pre-term birth. (shrink)
Not only the vertical direction of images – perceptually subject to the law of gravity and its consequences – plays an important role in their interpretation; the horizontal direction left-right too seems to foster different interpretations from its converse. For this reason there are subjects and genres of painting, such as the Annunciation or the portrait, revealing some constants from this point of view, in their representation conventions. And for this same reason there are languages, like comics, where the left-right (...) direction is critical not only for the succession of panels – clearly bound to the direction of verbal writing – but also for the panel’s internal organization. These reflections suggest a cultural explanation of the differences in horizontal organization in pictures, linking it to the habits of writing, while ruling out the explanations making reference to the physiology of brain. (shrink)
It can certainly be said that history of science has experienced a large growth in recent decades in Spain. This has occurred despite the generic term ‘history of science’ covering activities of a very varied nature and lacking an intimate relation between each other, in research as well as instruction. At present the number of publications which could fit into the frame of this branch of learning has increased remarkably and commercial publishing houses have opened their editorial lists to the (...) publication of classics as well as to monographs on the history of science. Moreover, new specialized journals on these subjects have become popular and have joined the small number of journals which already had a certain tradition. The number of participants in the periodical congresses of the Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas [SEHCYT] has risen and the number of congresses and symposia that have been held in Spain and have assembled Spanish as well as foreign historians has also increased. As another recent promising detail, we could quote the presence of history of science in the curricula of Spanish university programmes, a presence that tends to increase progressively. (shrink)
The paper analyzes the role of epistemology in contemporary science study. According to the representatives of cultural approach to scientific cognition the latter should be considered regardless of the issues of falsity or truth, which excludes epistemology from the sphere of science investigation. The paper argues, that though the inquiry of science as an aspect of human culture is quite possible, this sort of analysis is insufficient. In order to understand the nature of scientific cognition one has to supplement it (...) by the results of epistemological consideration. (shrink)
Globalization is a natural process. It has a number of advantages & disadvantages, causes many questions and problems, which can hardly sometimes be solved by countries independently. These problems can only be solved by the world community. One of these problems is to maintain the concrete communities identity. Is it possible to keep the unique culture of different ethnos, language, traditions in the globalizing world? Or as some researchers consider, there is a tendency to the formation of the so called (...) super ethnos? In such conditions tolerance takes on special significance as a certain means of activity, as social behavior model, as a norm of behavior for each member of the society. Tolerance as a behavior model on one hand should be worked out by a state legislative body, from the other it should be a norm of behavior for each member of the society. The basis of the tolerant behavior is the principle of mutual understanding.It can be considered to be a moral imperative for the resolution of conflict situations. The relevance & importance of tolerance & creating tolerant relations is a characteristic feature of the democratic personality. (shrink)
800x600 Normal 0 21 false false false RO X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Review of Mihaela Frunză, Expertiza etică și bioetica. Studii de caz (Ethical Expertise and Bioethics. Case Studies). Cluj-Napoca, Limes Publishing House, 2010.
Alternative agricultural systems, like organic and local agriculture, are becoming increasingly important in Europe to the detriment of conventional methods. As a matter of fact, sustainable agriculture, which started as a niche sector, has been able to conquer a significant share of the European agro-food market. Institutional promotion along with increasing consumer demand has allowed for the development of different agricultural models, from the farm to the fork, with an increasing focus on the ethical issues associated with the agro-food production (...) system. For instance, the organic agriculture agro-food chain is based on four principles, namely health, ecology, fairness and care with the goal of competing in the global agro-food market while respecting the environment, livestock, producers, and consumers. Within these themes, the seed market represents an extremely complex part of the whole picture. The present paper analyses the historical evolution of the seed sector by identifying the main issues related to sustainable agricultural systems and protection of biodiversity. It follows the identification of different seed markets based on different farm types. The two aspects are then discussed and matched in order to identify the main issues characterizing the sector. A review of possible solutions to those problems, taking into account their ethics, is also provided. (shrink)