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What system is capable of evolution? Generalization of life

  Evolution is the mechanism by which living systems adapt to a changing environment. The molecular basis of the evolutionary mechanism of ...

 Evolution is the mechanism by which living systems adapt to a changing environment. The molecular basis of the evolutionary mechanism of biological life is well understood. The process of evolution is based on the functions of change, heredity and selection. Defining life and evolution as a cause-and-effect relation can be described as biological life is suitable for the functions of evolution, and is therefore able to adapt to the changing environment. 

Since evolution is a process specific to living systems, life, which can be described as a complex dynamic structure capable of persistent existence in a changing environment, can also be defined as it is the operation of evolutionary systems, i.e. evolution is the living state of matter. 

Considering biological living systems as a model example, evolution can be defined in a more general way also: evolution is the adaptation function of complex dynamic structures existing in the environment by enabling changes of its system to maintain the functional state. 

Applying the evolutionary system approach to life, it is important to emphasize that life functions as a complex structure. The components of life typically are not able to sustain its structure in a changing environment on their own. Although the individual components of the complex structure of life can be viewed as living matter, life as a state is a state of the whole system.

By generalizing evolution and defining the living state as evolving matter, we can now extend the phenomenon of life in a more general way. As a consequence of the generalized definitions of evolution and life, not only biological entities, but also species of living organisms, and even the whole biosphere itself, are in a living state

Even if the evolutionary processes of these living states are no longer directly operated by biochemical mechanisms, rather the evolutionary processes operate according to social rules and other interrelating connections, these different structures utilize evolution, hence have the status of life. Therefore, life is not strictly limited to, even if it originated from the interactions of organic molecules.

Based on the generalized definition of life and evolution, human society is also a living state. As a complex dynamic system functioning in the environment, processes of evolutionary mechanisms adapting to changes to the environment operate its persistent existence.

The living state can be extended in this way to an even more abstract level. For example, the human spoken language is also a living state, functioning as a complex dynamic system of all the necessary components that make human communication possible, hence language also maintains its function in the human environment through a system-specific evolutionary process, by adaptation functions to the changing society. 

Continuing the abstraction, for example the existence of cars as a means of transportation is also a living state, functioning as an accumulation of all the components necessary (including the role of humans) maintaining its function by evolution. The complex dynamic system that makes and maintains the existence of the cars is a form of life, it adapts to its environment, to the changes of human society in an evolutionary way, and maintains its structure of the means of transport for its persistent existence.

It is worth pointing out that reproduction is not an inevitable element of evolution, and therefore not an obligatory function of life either. Biological evolution employs reproduction as a function in its evolutionary process, but it is not only by reproduction that changes and selection can occur in a complex dynamic system. For example, the biosphere or human society as a living state does not employ reproduction as a process necessary to adapt to the changing environment, even if lower-level living states of this kind of life utilize reproduction in their own evolution.  

Life as a state generalized by its evolutionary operation, not exclusively related to systems based on biochemical processes. What is the condition, what is the property of a complex dynamic system must it have in order to be capable of evolution, i.e. to function as a living state?

Statement: any complex dynamic system that is able to store information about its functioning, and can create and maintain its structure based on this information as a blueprint is an evolutionary system, i.e. a living state.

However, not every kind of living state requires a physically existent blueprint. For example, non-reproductive living states do not necessarily maintain their blueprint in a physically existent form, the blueprint can function as an emergent state based on the functioning of their components. In this case, change of the blueprint happens by change in the functions of the components. Still, these complex dynamic systems maintain their living state by evolutionary processes.

Evolution generally and fundamentally occurs through the processes of changing the blueprint, and the change can typically take place in different directions. Natural evolution is based on random changes in the blueprint, and is therefore processes without specific direction or goal. If the change in the blueprint is not based on random changes, as in the example of the car as a transportation system mentioned earlier, then the process can be called directed evolution

As a consequence of evolution based on design changes, the functioning of the evolutionary system necessarily leads to the differentiation of the arising variants. The typical consequence of the functioning of evolutionary systems resulting in diversity is the formation of characteristic components of complex dynamic structure called species, which also evolve on their own, hence function as a living state.

From the viewpoint of evolution, species can be defined as structures functioning as an evolving complex dynamic system, functioning as living states in themselves also, which are components of a higher-level living organism, utilizing the same physical evolutionary mechanism, consisting of constituting elements (individuals) operating on compatible (any corresponding parts are exchangeable) blueprint. A species is therefore a structure consisting of individuals functioning according to a compatible blueprint, functioning as one of the living components of a living state operating according to the same evolutionary mechanism.

In the higher level of the living state, species are systems with their own specific role of their existence. A species is practically a component of a living state consisting of several species, each specialized utilizing specific resources.

The genesis of species is a consequence of the physical mechanism of evolutionary processes, a phenomenon and a method of adapting to the environment. Species formation is driven by the utilization of a component of the environment as a resource, forming a living subsystem by evolutionary processes that makes this utilization possible. Evolution produces diversity, and the process that produces diversity results in a suitable living structure that has specialized to use the available constituents as resources.

Obvious examples for species are the components of the living structure of the Earth's biosphere that are themselves in a living state. The development of different spoken languages in distinct groups of people, and the development of different types of cells in multicellular organisms are also examples of the formation of species, as well as the different types of transportation vehicles.

Life, species, and the emergence and functioning of these complex dynamic systems can be understood and can be extended in unity within a suitably defined framework of evolution.

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