Wolfram- A Holist
Now that we embraced Wolfram as a biologist, let’s see what kind of biologist he is.
Biological phenomena may be explained within two frameworks : Reductionistic and Holistic. The first applies physical reasoning to explain life, and is known as Cartesian reductionism. The other explains life as a whole and is less concerned with reduction. Its philosophy is outlined in : Hans Jonas The Phenomenon of Life- Toward a Philosophical Biology
Northwestern University Press Evanston Ill 2001 Here are some examples; R and H stand respectively for reductionism and holism:
Gene: R: Unit of heredity which determines
physical-chemical processes in the body. DNA -> RNA -> protein.
H: Is a manifestation of complex network interacting with processes of the body. It might be likened to a typewriter which types the four letters, ATGC yet the typing mechanism is also part of the gene.
Brain: R: Brain electrical activity (action potentials) accounts for our reasoning. In the future, reasoning will be read off this activity. H: The electrical activity is an epi-phenomenon of a vast and complex biochemical machinery which includes neurons and glia (supporting cells). It is embodied, which means that the entire organism participates in neural activity.
Evolution: R: Results from the selection by the environment of individuals carrying beneficial genes. H: Is the evolution of the food chain network, otherwise known as Gaia.
An in depth explanation is provided
Reductionism paved the way to today’s technological innovations. However it fails to explain important phenomena of modern life, e.g., Economy, weather, and global warming. The Black-Sholes equation won’t make you rich. Apparently the holistic approach of Warren Buffet is more effective. The Lorenz attractor shows that a system of differential equations cannot predict weather and ends in chaos. The babble about global warming results from the lack of holistic mathematical tools, which hopefully Mathematica will provide.
Since Wolfram drove my attention to CA, I devoted my research to evaluate their potential for holistic explanation of biological phenomena. Now Wolfram came with an even more intriguing concept: A simple causal network of programs which exchange pieces of the network. Will this gem be presented to us in the next Mahematica edition?