organism as fractal


adding page after reading Geoffrey West‘s scale.. and questioning his use/descriptions of cities and companies being fractal organisms

i’m thinking that the way he describes cities.. and any company.. are not fractals of organisms..

in particular.. that anything that uses man made measures (ie: money market; bureaucratic state;.. ) to describe/assume/incentivize qualities of said org.. is.. in doing so.. waving a red flag of not alive ness.. not life form.. not self org.. et al..

thinking this comparison is similar to that of saying ai/machine learning is like human thinking.. so much is missing.. not fractal

we’re missing the meta ness of schmachtenberger meta law:

we have to focus on the meta level.. trying to keep addressing symptoms w/o understanding what’s causing them isn’t very helpful

simone on fractal ness


wikipedia small

In biology, an organism (from Greek: οργανισμός, organismos) is any individual entity that exhibits the properties of life. It is a synonym for “life form”.

Organisms are classified by taxonomy into specified groups such as the multicellular animals, plants, and fungi; or unicellular microorganisms such as a protists, bacteria, and archaea. All types of organisms are capable of reproduction, growth and development, maintenance, and some degree of response to stimuli. Humans are multicellular animals composed of many trillions of cells which differentiate during development into specialized tissues and organs.

An organism may be either a prokaryote or a eukaryote. Prokaryotes are represented by two separate domains—bacteria and archaea. Eukaryotic organisms are characterized by the presence of a membrane-bound cell nucleus and contain additional membrane-bound compartments called organelles (such as mitochondria in animals and plants and plastids in plants and algae, all generally considered to be derived from endosymbioticbacteria). Fungi, animals and plants are examples of kingdoms of organisms within the eukaryotes.

Estimates on the number of Earth’s current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which only about 1.2 million have been documented. More than 99% of all species, amounting to over five billion species, that ever lived are estimated to be extinct. In 2016, a set of 355 genes from the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of all living organisms living was identified.


The term “organism” (from Greek ὀργανισμός, organismos, from ὄργανον, organon, i.e. “instrument, implement, tool, organ of sense or apprehension”) first appeared in the English language in 1703 and took on its current definition by 1834 (Oxford English Dictionary).

It is directly related to the term “organization”. There is a long tradition of defining organisms as self-organizing beings,

going back at least to Immanuel Kant’s 1790 Critique of Judgment.

self org



An organism may be defined as an assembly of molecules functioning as a more or less stable whole that exhibits the properties of life. Dictionary definitions can be broad, using phrases such as “any living structure, such as a plant, animal, fungus or bacterium, capable of growth and reproduction”.Many definitions exclude viruses and *possible man-made non-organic life forms, as viruses are dependent on the biochemical machinery of a host cell for reproduction. A superorganism is an organism consisting of many individuals working together as a single functional or social unit.[15]

*ie: companies, cities – described in market/state terms

There has been controversy about the best way to define the organism and indeed about whether or not such a definition is necessary. Several contributions are responses to the suggestion that the category of “organism” may well not be adequate in biology.

Non-cellular life

Viruses are not typically considered to be organisms because they are incapable of autonomous reproduction, growth or metabolism. This controversy is problematic because some cellular organisms are also incapable of independent survival (but are capable of independent metabolism and procreation) and live as obligatory intracellular parasites. Although viruses have a few enzymes and molecules characteristic of living organisms, they have no metabolism of their own; they cannot synthesize and organize the organic compounds from which they are formed. Naturally, this rules out autonomous reproduction: they can only be passively replicated by the machinery of the host cell. In this sense, they are similar to inanimate matter. While viruses sustain no independent metabolism, and thus are usually not classified as organisms, they do have their own genes, and they do evolve by mechanisms similar to the evolutionary mechanisms of organisms.

The most common argument in support of viruses as living organisms is their ability to undergo evolution and replicate through self-assembly.

sounds like our ai argument.. that machines can think/be like people..

Some scientists argue that viruses neither evolve, nor self- reproduce. In fact, viruses are evolved by their host cells, meaning that there was co-evolution of viruses and host cells. If host cells did not exist, viral evolution would be impossible. This is not true for cells. If viruses did not exist, the direction of cellular evolution could be different, but cells would nevertheless be able to evolve. As for the reproduction, viruses totally rely on hosts’ machinery to replicate. The discovery of viral megagenomes with genes coding for energy metabolism and protein synthesis fueled the debate about whether viruses belong in the tree of life. The presence of these genes suggested that viruses were once able to metabolize. However, it was found later that the genes coding for energy and protein metabolism have a cellular origin. Most likely, these genes were acquired through horizontal gene transfer from viral hosts.


Organisms are complex chemical systems, organized in ways that promote reproduction and some measure of sustainability or survival. The same laws that govern non-living chemistry govern the chemical processes of life. It is generally the phenomena of entire organisms that determine their fitness to an environment and therefore the survivability of their DNA-based genes.

Organisms clearly owe their origin, metabolism, and many other internal functions to chemical phenomena, especially the chemistry of large organic molecules. Organisms are complex systems of chemical compounds that, through interaction and environment, play a wide variety of roles.


Organisms are semi-closed chemical systems. Although they are individual units of life (as the definition requires), they are not closed to the environment around them. To operate they constantly take in and release energy. Autotrophs produce usable energy (in the form of organic compounds) using light from the sun or inorganic compounds while heterotrophs take in organic compounds from the environment.

The primary chemical element in these compounds is carbon. The chemical properties of this element such as its great affinity for bonding with other small atoms, including other carbon atoms, and its small size making it capable of forming multiple bonds, make it ideal as the basis of organic life. It is able to form small three-atom compounds (such as carbon dioxide), as well as large chains of many thousands of atoms that can store data (nucleic acids), hold cells together, and transmit information (protein).


Compounds that make up organisms may be divided into macromolecules and other, smaller molecules. The four groups of macromolecule are nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. Nucleic acids (specifically deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA) store genetic data as a sequence of nucleotides. The particular sequence of the four different types of nucleotides (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine) dictate many characteristics that constitute the organism. The sequence is divided up into codons, each of which is a particular sequence of three nucleotides and corresponds to a particular amino acid. Thus a sequence of DNA codes for a particular protein that, due to the chemical properties of the amino acids it is made from, folds in a particular manner and so performs a particular function.

These protein functions have been recognized:

  1. Enzymes, which catalyze all of the reactions of metabolism
  2. Structural proteins, such as tubulin, or collagen
  3. Regulatory proteins, such as transcription factors or cyclins that regulate the cell cycle
  4. Signaling molecules or their receptors such as some hormones and their receptors
  5. Defensive proteins, which can include everything from antibodies of the immune system, to toxins (e.g., dendrotoxins of snakes), to proteins that include unusual amino acids like canavanine

A bilayer of phospholipids makes up the membrane of cells that constitutes a barrier, containing everything within the cell and preventing compounds from freely passing into, and out of, the cell. Due to the selective permeability of the phospholipid membrane only specific compounds can pass through it. In some multicellular organisms they serve as a storage of energy and mediate communication between cells. Carbohydrates are more easily broken down than lipids and yield more energy to compare to lipids and proteins. In fact, carbohydrates are the number one source of energy for all living organisms.


All organisms consist of structural units called cells; some contain a single cell (unicellular) and others contain many units (multicellular). Multicellular organisms are able to specialize cells to perform specific functions. A group of such cells is a tissue, and in animals these occur as four basic types, namely epithelium, nervous tissue, muscle tissue, and connective tissue. Several types of tissue work together in the form of an organ to produce a particular function (such as the pumping of the blood by the heart, or as a barrier to the environment as the skin). This pattern continues to a higher level with several organs functioning as an organ system such as the reproductive system, and digestive system. Many multicellular organisms consist of several organ systems, which coordinate to allow for life.


The cell theory, first developed in 1839 by Schleiden and Schwann, states that all organisms are composed of one or more cells; all cells come from preexisting cells; and cells contain the hereditary information necessary for regulating cell functions and for transmitting information to the next generation of cells.

There are two types of cells, eukaryotic and prokaryotic. Prokaryotic cells are usually singletons, while eukaryotic cells are usually found in multicellular organisms. Prokaryotic cells lack a nuclear membrane so DNA is unbound within the cell; eukaryotic cells have nuclear membranes.

All cells, whether prokaryotic or eukaryotic, have a membrane, which envelops the cell, separates its interior from its environment, regulates what moves in and out, and maintains the electric potential of the cell. Inside the membrane, a saltycytoplasm takes up most of the cell volume. All cells possess DNA, the hereditary material of genes, and RNA, containing the information necessary to build various proteins such as enzymes, the cell’s primary machinery. There are also other kinds of biomolecules in cells.

All cells share several similar characteristics of:

  • Reproduction by cell division (binary fission, mitosis or meiosis).
  • Use of enzymes and other proteins coded by DNA genes and made via messenger RNA intermediates and ribosomes.
  • Metabolism, including taking in raw materials, building cell components, converting energy, molecules and releasing by-products. The functioning of a cell depends upon its ability to extract and use chemical energy stored in organic molecules. This energy is derived from metabolic pathways.
  • Response to external and internal stimuli such as changes in temperature, pH or nutrient levels.
  • Cell contents are contained within a cell surface membrane that contains proteins and a lipid bilayer.


from fractal thinking ness page:

Fractals are typically self-similar patterns, where self-similar means they are the same from near as from far. The definition of fractal goes beyond self-similarity per se to exclude trivial self-similarity and include the idea of a *detailed pattern repeating itself.

imagining for organisms.. the *detailed pattern repeating iteself.. is reprodution.. as in ongoing emergence.. rather than simply repeating copies.. it’s the differences/changes that are the orgainsim as fractal:

I favor the idea of providing ground to build a public realm and give opportunities for discussing and negotiating what is good for all, rather than the idea of strengthening communities in their struggle to define their own commons. Relating commons to groups of “similar” people bears the danger of eventually creating closed communities. People may thus define themselves as commoners by excluding others from their milieu, from their own privileged commons. Conceptualizing commons on the basis of the public, however, does not focus on similarities or commonalities but on the very differences between people that can possibly meet on a purposefully instituted common ground.      Stavros Starvides

from Taleb‘s black swan:

Mandelbrot designed the mathematical object now known as the Mandelbrot set, the most famous object in the history of mathematics. It became popular with followers of chaos theory because it generates pictures of ever increasing complexity by using a deceptively minuscule recursive rule; recursive means that something can be reapplied to itself infinitely. You can look at the set at smaller and smaller resolutions without ever reaching the limit; you will continue to see recognizable shapes. The shapes are never the same, yet they bear an affinity to one another, a strong family resemblance.

So Mandelbrot spent time as an intellectual refugee at an IBM research center in upstate New York. It was a f*** you money situation, as IBM let him do whatever he felt like doing.

luxury sans monetary (or whatever) incentive.. to do whatever you want.

imagine 7 billion people with that privilege. that’s the fractal i think west’s scale.. and the rest of us .. keep missing.. in trying to come up w a better way to live.. we can’t seem to let go enough to trust the aliveness/messiness/entropyness of the organism..


fb share by Michel written by James Quilligan

the signaling of need by an organism routinely triggers the creation of its own supply.

These divergent forces must be given an empirical basis in socioeconomic policy beyond the inept framework of supply-demand. Counterbalancing the needs of a population with its resource support systems requires a major readjustment. Here’s how this might work. What’s now included on the supply side as extraction, production and waste is redefined as the self-organization of resources within the ecological limits of the planet for their regeneration. And what’s now reported on the demand side as a measure of income is redefined as the self-sufficiency of people in meeting their daily requirements through the common use of these resources.

have/need ness.. affluence w/o abundance

When supply becomes an ecological value and demand becomes the value of human need, ‘build it and they will come’ is transformed into ‘demonstrate the need and it is met’. Now, instead of a crude approximation for economic equilibrium, we have an actual measure for the cooperative activities of people managing their resources to meet their needs — a measure based on the level of regenerative output which their ecology can optimally ‘carry’ or sustain.”


living things – are not machines


via seth.. on organism as fractal ness

What kind of org?

Maybe you work with an organization. They have systems and charts and boxes.

But the very nature of an organization is that someone developed it, figured it out and has to approve its changes. After all, it’s organized.

Perhaps you work with an organism instead. An organism constantly changes. The cells develop, die and are replaced. It adapts to the current environment or goes away.

If you engage with a culture, if you’re part of an organism, you’ll do better understanding the system that it lives in. The org chart is insufficient.

And of course, organisms tend to be more resilient than organizations.

schmachtenberger meta law: we have to focus on the meta level.. trying to keep addressing symptoms w/o understanding what’s causing them isn’t very helpful


@jjtron83 Isn’t clear in the tweet, but I’m making a distinction between organism & system, where ‘system’ = a non-organic structure.

I’m taking an unorthodox view of systems where I’m not including the natural world in that.

My view is that we’re imposing ‘system’ on the natural world

Original Tweet:


zach bush – from zach & charles on life is a community:

20 min – z: we’ve been believing .. genetic info from mom and dad predicts who we are.. born.. and then deteriorate from there on.. in fact.. not at all that.. last 20 yrs has revealed whole new world of plasticity.. in world we thought to be concrete.. in the genome.. in the brain.. thought slowing losing/deteriorating.. but really adapting/healing

21 min – z: endocrine systems adapts to environ.. in same way genomics and at much deeper level.. are extraordinarily plastic.. performed at global level thru viruses..

22 min – z: viruses i believe.. have been mis categorized by med and by general public/media.. as part of the micro biome.. living germs attack us.. et al.. micro biome is small living orgs.. so virus being a non living org.. a non living sheath of info.. already doesn’t fit into this.. if go to wikipedia and look up virus.. says it’s part of micro biome because it’s so small.. that’s not a rational categorization.. just because it fits the first word (micro) so well.. going to put it into this category

organism as fractal