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On biological individuation


In this paper, we understand the emergence of life as a pure individuation process. Individuation already occurs in open thermodynamics systems near equilibrium. We understand such open systems, as already recursively characterized (R1) by the relation between their internal properties, and their boundary conditions. Second, global properties emerge in such physical systems. We interpret this change as the fact that their structure is the recursive result of their operations (R2). We propose a simulation of the emergence of life in Earth by a mapping (R) through which (R1R2) operators are applied to themselves, so that RN = (R1R2)N. We suggest that under specific thermodynamic (open systems out of equilibrium) and chemical conditions (autocatalysis, kinetic dynamic stability), this mapping can go up to a limit characterized by a fixed-point equation: \(R = \phi_{1} \phi_{2} \ R\). In this equation, (\( \phi_{1} \)) symbolizes a regime of permanent resonance characterizing the biosphere, as open from inside, by the recursive differential relation between the biosphere and all its holobionts. As such the biosphere is closed on itself as a pure differential entity. (\( \phi_{2} \)) symbolizes the regime of permanent change characterizing the emergence of evolution in the biosphere. As such the biosphere is closed on itself, by the principle of descent with modifications, and by the fact that every holobiont evolves in a niche, while evolving with it.

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  1. “Knowing the individual through individuation instead of knowing individuation through the individual” (Simondon, 2013, p 24).

  2. The equation of motion is given by the Hamiltonian H, when « q» is position and «p» velocity: ∂H/∂p = dq/dt; −H/∂q = dp/dt.

  3. In more precise technical terms: a fixed-point equation that describes the invariance by transformation can be drawn: Rk(F ∗) = F ∗ (Longo/Montévil, 2014, p141). Rk is called renormalization operator. F is the evolution, or the structure function. In statistical mechanics, it is usually a partition function.

  4. Thanks to the new formula of generalized entropy production invented by England (2013, 2015) open physical systems driven by an energy source in presence of thermal baths can be more and more “irreversible”, inducing the emergence of new constraints (like self-replication), when they become more and more “dissipative”.

  5. See on this point the concept of involution, a philosophical scheme proposed by Guattari and Deleuze (1980), that could be read as some kind of anticipation of these new developments in cladistics.


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Miquel, PA., Hwang, SY. On biological individuation. Theory Biosci. 141, 203–211 (2022).

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  • Individuation
  • Emergence of life
  • Self-organization
  • Biological system
  • Evolution