Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 107–123

Structured system in chemistry: comparison with mechanics and biology


DOI: 10.1007/s10698-013-9178-0

Cite this article as:
Villani, G. Found Chem (2014) 16: 107. doi:10.1007/s10698-013-9178-0


The fundamental concept of structured chemical system has been introduced and analysed in this paper. This concept, as in biology but not in physics, is very important in chemistry. In fact, the main chemical concepts (molecule and compound) have been identified as systemic concepts and their use in chemical explanation can only be justified in this approach. The fundamental concept of “environment” has been considered and then the system concept in mechanics, chemistry and biology. The differences and the analogies between the use of the systemic approach in these disciplines have been analyzed and correlated to the general problem of reductionism and complexity perspectives. The inanimate–animate dichotomy can be reconsidered in this new approach. Since the chemical systemic concepts of molecule and compound can be dated to the nineteenth century, chemistry can be considered the first true systemic science and its historical evolution can be a model for other sciences (such as the humanities) where the systemic concepts are important.


Structured system Systemic approach Chemistry versus mechanics Chemistry versus biology Inanimate–animate dichotomy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto di Chimica dei Composti OrganoMetallici (ICCOM)UOS PisaPisaItaly

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