Context of a Process

The CA process is specified by a triplet { state, rule, age limit }. Previous experiments demonstrated how  the  impact  between CA processes controls state and age limit (v. Interaction). Nearly in all these experiments rule remained constant. The chapter on  Evolution demonstrates how the state of one CA (Dominus) sets the rule of another one (Homo). We shall now proceed in the same vein.

A CA-1 zygote is planted. At a certain time it is killed and its last state serves as a rule for a new zygote (CA-2) which is planted after CA-1 death. In frame-1 the new rule is kept until the end of the experiment.  In order examine the states  of the  entire CA period, which  is 46, the experiment was repeated 46 times. In each experiment CA-1 was killed at a different  time, and its last state served as rule for the new CA-2.. In most instances the outcome is biologically uninteresting, like the one depicted in frame-1.

The next experiment was slightly modified. After the CA-1 was killed and CA-2 planted, , the CA-1 rule  controlled the CA-2 zygote only for one time unit, after which the old rule (#600) was restored.

The next graph depicts the rule numbers of the different CA-1 states.


All processes in our body continually interact. Each process state sets the rules for other processes.  The context in which a particular CA exists depends on the dimension of the entire process set. When a particular process is perturbed, its response will depend on the state of the entire process set.  Suppose that we study the effect of FSH on the ovary. We inject the hormone and watch how the organism reacts to this perturbation. Since all processes contribute to the outcome, it is difficult to appreciate what the specific effect of FSH might be. We narrow the context of the study, grow the ovary in a tissue culture and treat it with FSH. By studying this interaction outside the body, many processes are eliminated and the effect of FSH shows up.  Without this context narrowing it would be impossible to formulate the theory of endocrinology .

In the present model the rule stands for the  effect of other processes on the CA. The rule stands for the context of a CA. In order to simplify our model the rule was kept constant, indicating that the model is isolated, and its context  narrow.  The context might be broadened by allowing other CA states to determine rules, like  in the above experiment. Or the rule may vary with time. In any case when modeling a system we ought to specify its context.

Let's return to Aristotle's four causes of change

1. Material cause:  CA structure, and age
2. Formal cause:  Its rule
3. Efficient cause: Perturbation (injury)
4. Final cause: Optimality

Here the context is called Formal Cause.

Efficient cause in the exact sciences

When Galileo studied falling objects, he was told that the Four Causes explain best their behavior. Particularly the Final Cause according to which a stone falls down in order  to join  mother earth.  Galileo may have reasoned as follows: Let's assume that all causes except the third are negligible, and formulate a theory based solely on the Efficient Cause. At this point the exact sciences were born. This reasoning paved the way for their astounding technological achievements.

Two centuries later, medicine became enchanted by the great appeal of the exact sciences. It therefore decided to reject the three causes, and  keep the Efficient Cause. This is when modern medicine was born. Initially this reasoning advanced medicine to its great achievements. Particularly in acute diseases. Yet in  chronic diseases, like cancer, arteriosclerosis, or diabetes mellitus, this reasoning fails. The Efficient Cause is insufficient to explain their intricacy because the postulated context in which these diseases exist is too narrow. The other three causes ought to be considered as well.

Further reading: The four causes of disease

Context fallacy

The absolute devotion to the Efficient Cause forced medicine to narrow the context of its studies. Most theories of the medical sciences are based on experiments done in vitro. They were then extrapolated to the complex organism as if the context change does not matter. Like The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology which was worked out in vitro, and is hardly valid within the extended context of the organism. This and other context fallacies brought about the conceptual confusion of modern medicine.

Further reading:

Iatrogenic Medicine
Beware of the Gene
Cloning fallacy
Streaming Proteins

effect[1,500]; effect[2, 500]; a[[1, 50]]=0 ; a[[1, 70]]=1; seedtime = mm; ruletime=mm +1; injurystate[1, j, mm, 60, 40, 0]; If[j == ruletime,  rul[[1]] = Take[a[[2]], {f[[2, 1]], f[[2, 2]]}];

Previous page
Next page