By Ludwig von Bertalanffy

2014 Reprint of unique 1962 American version. specified facsimile of the unique version, no longer reproduced with Optical attractiveness software program. this crucial creation to theoretical biology is a vintage paintings in its box. Already within the 1930's Bertalanffy formulated the organismic method thought that later turned the kernel of the GST (General structures Theory]. GST is an interdisciplinary perform that describes structures with interacting elements, appropriate to biology, cybernetics, and different fields. Bertalanffy proposed that the classical legislation of thermodynamics utilized to closed structures, yet no longer inevitably to "open systems," akin to dwelling issues. His mathematical version of an organism's development over the years continues to be in use this day.

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If that is achieved, the fulfilment of the principal task of science-the exact prediction of future events-is made possible with the help of natural laws. If our conceptual constructions, the theoretical structure and laws, are unequivocally co-ordinated with the phenomena, it is then no wonder that they not only fit the past but also future events, and hence enable us to 'prophesy' the future. THE SYSTEM OF BIOLOGY 21 Scientific law does not consist, as is often said (DuboisReymond, Sigwart, Roux, and others), in an insight into the 'causal necessity' of the events.

This proposition does nothing more than state the demand already formulated, which, however, stands in sharp contrast to current views, that for an understanding of life the most exact knowledge of its ingredient materials and processes does not suffice. We can only speak of 3802 H SO FOUNDATIONS OF THE ORGANISMIC THEORY such an understanding when we know the laws which govern the organization of these materials and processes. From this it becomes clear in what sense we can distinguish biophysics and biochemistry from theoretical biology.

On the other hand, the assumption that organisms are machines is often used by vitalists for the proof of their own theories (see below, p. 44). But the machine theory is not only logically contradictory, 38 FOUNDATIONS OF THE ORGANISMIC THEORY it is, in the second place, untenable in the face of the actual data. There is no doubt, however, that there are in organisms innumerable fixed arrangements by means of which a stereotyped response is made to a given influence, and which can be called, metaphorically, 'machine conditions'.

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