Order and complexity in dynamical systems: Homeodynamics as a generalized mechanics for biology

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Abstract

The trend away from realism and positivism, combined with intense reductionism, has led to weakening the philosophy of science. But now a scientific realism and holism are reasserting themselves, stimulated by advances in nonlinear mechanics. The dynamics of living systems are here analyzed using the heuristic or metaphorical construct of homeodynamics, which contrasts sharply with chaotic dynamics. Homeodynamics predicts quasi-periodicity or asymptotic orbital stability as the manifestations of stability of developing and evolving systems, and it attempts to reconcile the conflict between an informational and a dynamical view of complexity. Mathematical, physical, and biological order are contrasted and complexity is defined. The Newtonian model of dynamics is shown to be inapplicable to complex systems. The content of homeodynamics is outlined. Finally seven common descriptions of living systems are challenged, and their homeodynamic correctives are given. Although homeodynamics is not a formal theory, it addresses the needs that any theory of a complex system must satisfy. © 1994.

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Yates, F. E. (1994). Order and complexity in dynamical systems: Homeodynamics as a generalized mechanics for biology. Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 19(6–8), 49–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/0895-7177(94)90189-9

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