On the chemical nature and origin of teleonomy

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Abstract

The physico-chemical characterization of a teleonomic event and the nature of the physico-chemical process by which teleonomic systems could emerge from non-teleonomic systems are addressed in this paper. It is proposed that teleonomic events are those whose primary directive is discerned to be non-thermodynamic, while regular (non-teleonomic) events are those whose primary directive is the traditional thermodynamic one. For the archetypal teleonomic event, cell multiplication, the non-thermodynamic directive can be identified as being a kinetic directive. It is concluded, therefore, that the process of emergence, whereby non-teleonomic replicating chemical systems were transformed into teleonomic ones, involved a switch in the primacy of thermodynamic and kinetic directives. It is proposed that the step where that transformation took place was the one in which some pre-metabolic replicating system acquired an energy-gathering capability, thereby becoming metabolic. Such a transformation was itself kinetically directed given that metabolic replicators tend to be kinetically more stable than non-metabolic ones. The analysis builds on our previous work that considers living systems to be a kinetic state of matteras opposed to the traditional thermodynamic states that dominate the inanimate world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-394
Number of pages12
JournalOrigins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2005

Keywords

  • Chemical evolution
  • Kinetic state of matter
  • Molecular replication
  • Origin of life
  • Replicative chemistry
  • Replicator space
  • Teleology
  • Teleonomy

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