Re: Analog Feedback and Ringing

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 15:04:39 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 15:04:39 -0700
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Re: Analog Feedback and Ringing

Dave Pape wrote:

> >1.) The idea that cells are the true self-replicators is empirical. If
> >you put cells in the proper medium, you get more of them.

> >Cells turn out to be the smallest units that self-replicate.
> >Cells, however, do appear to be some kind of complicated emergent from the
> >Earth's organic chemistry, at least at one period long ago.

> Okay... I think there's theories out there [oh good /citations/, Dave!]
> about DNA precursors being things like... nucleotide chains linking on
> crystalline clay molecules, and other complicated but non-biological
> chemical reactions, all of which have this property of autocatalysis.
> Meaning that >= 1 of the products of the reaction set catalyses... its own
> production.

Well, indeed there are such theories. They are a nice illustration of
our obsession for DNA and gene centered life. Some people look at it
the other way around and say that DNA only came in later, after cells
(which had no nucleotides whatsoever) had developed. I am already quite
convinced (from observable analogies between how culture is evolving and
early biology) that this is indeed the case. If you take the point of
view of information it it obvious that there was first processing
(enzymatic and cellular activity) and then code (RNA and DNA).
Similarly, in culture there were first perceptions and behaviours, which
could later be encoded in words, not the other way around.

> I'd say that such systems are like the audio feedback system I described.
> There's a self-referential system, from which an apparently self-replicating
> emergent... erm... emerges [sorry- not enough synonyms. Was trying to avoid
> saying "skanks forth" :)]. It's the feedback thing that's the apparent
> self-replicator... only it's actually a very tight self-reference in the SYSTEM.
> And I'm thinking that if cells require a medium, that's like saying they're
> a thing, more of which is produced by self-reference in an autocatalytic
> system composed of /the medium plus the cells/.
> Thus, current chemistry, including biological chemistry, would /still/ be
> the working of the autocatalytic chemical system that was bootstrapping
> before DNA, and cells, were on the scene. Cells are STILL an emergent of
> autocatalytic (read self-referential) chemical processes.

Yes (but only biological chemistry). As I said, biology (life) could be
considered as a single giant chemical process which took off some 4
billion years ago when some chemical reactions hooked into each other.

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