The bulletin of mathematical biophysics

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 477–491 | Cite as

The representation of organisms in terms of predicates

  • N. Rashevsky


The different approaches to relational biology developed by N. Rashevsky and R. Rosen consider essentially binary relations between various components of biological functions of the organism. Actually an organism is represented by a set of differentn-ary relations. The present paper is an attempt to outline a possible approach to this more realistic situation. Inasmuch asn-ary relation is ann-place predicate, it is attempted to describe the basic known properties of an organism in terms ofn-place predicates, in which the variables represent the different “components” of the organism. Some possible forms of such predicates are discussed and some general properties of systems of such predicates are studied. It is shown that if the organism is described by predicates of the type discussed here, statements can be derived about the conditions “of reestablishability” of different components. Conclusions similar to those obtained previously by R. Rosen are reached now on a very different basis. A description of the process of cell differentiation in multicellular organisms in terms of predicates studied here is briefly outlined. A comparison of similarities and differences between the approach and Rosen’s description of organisms in terms of the theory of categories is made.


Rosen Binary Relation Multicellular Organism Building Component General Topological Space 
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Copyright information

© N. Rashevsky 1965

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Rashevsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Mental Health Research InstituteUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborMichigan

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