Yes indeed, Life is complicated. To understand the complexities of Life, we need to make the distinction between Human Nature and Human Behavior. The knowledge about the man will be incomplete if the true or real nature of man remains unknown.
What it is to be a Substance? and What it is to Exist? We need to establish knowledge about the man on a firm basis and the information it provides must be tested for its accuracy and consistency with an external reality. We have to make the fundamental distinction between the living and the non-living matter. The scientific advances of the 19th and 20th centuries reinforced the materialistic position concerning the basic similarity of organic living and inorganic physical matter. The man is viewed as a product of natural evolution and is thought to be subject to the same laws of Physics and Chemistry or mechanistic principles.
We need a methodology to study philosophy and to understand philosophical statements. Logical Positivism, also known as Scientific Empiricism aims to clarify concepts in both everyday and scientific language. It describes analysis of language as the function of philosophy. This analysis of language and of concepts is important to understand questions of belief and ideology which affect what we think we ought to do individually and socially. I would use this method of ‘Applied Philosophy’ to analyze the philosophical doctrine of ‘Materialism’ and to interpret human nature and human existence.
What is Man? The motivation for asking this question comes from a statement expressed in Sanskrit language, ‘Sarvesham Swastir Bhavatu’ which seeks the well-being of all human beings of all races, of all nations, of all cultures, and of all religions. The term altruism describes unselfish concern for the welfare of others. It involves human behavior and actions that appear to favor another individual’s chances of survival and reproduction. The thought expressed in the Sanskrit language reveals human nature. Our efforts to support the well-being of man would be affected by our understanding the ‘real’ or ‘true’ nature of man. All religious and cultural traditions make assumptions about human nature. The basic assumption about human nature is that of finding it displayed in feelings, thoughts, actions, and behavior.
If man is viewed as a multicellular organism, we need to discover the human nature of this subject who lives because of the functions of the trillions of cells. Hence, we need to know if human nature is displayed in the functional characteristics that are observable in biotic interactions of cells that constitute the human organism.
The objective of this blog post is to explore the universal principles that determine human nature. Human cultures and religions seek to know human nature as reflected in the man’s thoughts, feelings, moods, actions, and behavior. I seek the knowledge of human nature by describing the characteristics of behavior exhibited by the cells that constitute the human individual.
THE STUDY OF MAN AS A LIVING THING:
Greek philosopher and the founder of Biology Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) has observed that there is a science which investigates being as being and the attributes which belong to being in virtue of its nature. For a thing to come into being, Aristotle describes four kinds of causes, 1. Efficient Cause, 2. Formal Cause, 3. Material Cause, and 4. Final Cause, the end or purpose for which a thing exists. Aristotle describes corporeal substances are composite of two principles, form, and matter. Matter and Form are the Material and the Formal Cause respectively of what comes to be known as a thing. The matter represents the potentiality of the livng corporeal substance and the form represents the actuality of the living thing. The structure and the behavior of things contribute to their individual being and function. Aristotle did not regard the body and soul as two separate entities as the soul is merely a set of defining features.
I would like to proceed with my presentation keeping the basic criteria that Aristotle would use to know human nature, 1. the human form, 2. the living matter, 3. the human living thing, its nature being a function of its structure and its behavior.
1.The Human Form: In case of man, the human form undergoes changes during every stage of its existence such as infancy, boyhood, youth, adult, and old age.
2. The Living Matter: The living matter or protoplasm continues to live without any apparent changes in its fundamental living properties. The biological functions or the characteristics of the living matter or protoplasm do not evolve or change because of its survival value for the species.
3. The Human Living Thing: The living functions such as consciousness, responsiveness, recognition, communication through signalling, motion, and nutrition are innate properties of the living substance or protoplasm and are not acquired by a learning process. This innate ability of protoplasm to perform functions helps in the development of instinctive behavior that is observed in the organism. It is not surprising to observe that certain important features of human nature are innate rather than learned from experience. There are several factors involved in the development of human nature and in the formation of individual character. We need to recognize the contrast between the innate and the learned, heredity and environment, nature and nurture or social upbringing.
The biological properties such as Motion, and Nutrition, the biological characteristics such as consciousness or awareness of its own condition called existence in a given environment, and the biological nature such as responsiveness, communication, and recognition of other living cells present in its external environment could account for an instinctive behavior pattern observed in all living organisms. This instinctive behavior pattern accounts for the nature of biotic interactions among members of a given biotic community.
To explain human nature, we need to study the character and behavior of man’s corporeal substance or protoplasm and view man as a terrestrial organism represented by a biotic community of trillions of individual living cells and as a natural host to trillions of microbes that inhabit the man’s body and organs such as the gastrointestinal tract. The terms such as spirit or soul must be used by stating its defining features and we need to understand the connection between the feature and the substance that contributes to that feature called soul or spirit that is seen as the vital, animating principle found in all living things.
THE MECHANIST CONCEPT OF LIFE:
The Mechanist Concept of Life asserts that the phenomena of life are merely processes and transformations obeying elementary laws of Physics and Chemistry. The living system is ultimately reducible to its constituent molecules and atoms. The living cell is a thermodynamically unstable system. This means that without continuous input of energy, a living cell will degrade spontaneously into a nonliving collection of molecules. To maintain life an organism not only repairs or replaces (or both) its structures by a constant supply of the materials of which it is composed but also keeps its life processes in operation by a steady supply of energy. This functional activity of a living cell is called metabolism. Living systems must be supplied energy for continual synthesis of new organic molecules and to replace, or to repair broken organic molecules. We need to explain this functional ability of a living system to acquire energy from its external environment. This ability is not operated by laws of Physics and Chemistry. For example, in Physics, the force by which every mass or particle of matter including photons attracts and is attracted by every other mass or particle is called Gravitation which is the weakest of the four Fundamental Forces operating in nature. A living system does not use the force of Gravitation to attract a substance to use it for its metabolism. Physics explains the process of diffusion and the operation of Osmosis in which a solvent passes through a semipermeable membrane such as the wall of a livng cell, into a solution of higher concentration, so as to equalize concentrations on both sides of the membrane (the osmotic pressure gradient). Osmosis is a relevant biological mechanism but it does not fully account for the energy acquisition by a living cell.
HOW DOES PROTOPLASM ACQUIRES ENERGY?
The functional activity called metabolism involves a living system’s continual exchange of some of its materials with its surroundings, principally in the process of building up or destroying its protoplasm. The most striking characteristics of protoplasm are its vital properties of Motion, and Nutrition. By Motion is meant the property which protoplasm has of changing its shape and position by some “intrinsic power” and exhibit amoeboid movement. Ciliary movement or the vibration of hair-like processes from the surface of any cell may also be regarded as a variety of the motion with which protoplasm is endowed.
Nutrition is the “power” which protoplasm has of attracting to itself the materials necessary for its growth and maintenance from surrounding matter. When any foreign particle comes in contact with the protoplasmic substance, it becomes incorporated in it, being enwrapped by one or more processes projected from the parent mass which encloses it. When thus taken up, the foreign particle may remain in the substance of the protoplasm for some time without change, or may be again extruded. The living substance called protoplasm has the “intrinsic power” of motion and uses its power to ingest and to expel foreign particles in the external environment with which it may come into contact. The Biological Membrane or the Plasma Membrane which separates protoplasm of the cell from its environment allows a highly controlled exchange of matter across the barrier it poses; some compounds are able to pass through the membrane easily, others are completely blocked. The screening effect on the substances that enter and leave the cell is perhaps the most important function of the membrane. The actions and behavior of protoplasm, the corporeal substance is dependent upon its innate “power” and may not be attributable to elementary laws of Physics and Chemistry.
SPIRITUALISM AND HUMAN NATURE:
The structural differentiation and the functional organization of various organ systems makes man a very complex living organism. This kind of specialized functions of tissues and organs is possible because of adaptive subordination of the cells to the requirements of the Whole Organism. If altruism describes any behavior that appears to favor another individuals’ chances of survival, we can easily recognize this characteristic in the functions performed by the Red Blood Cells. Each Red Blood Cell lives for a very limited life span of its own and during its short period of existence it serves the purpose of the Whole Human Organism with a sense of devotion, with the spirit of cooperation, to provide assistance to all other cells, tissues, and organs of the body in a selfless manner.
I define the term ‘Spiritualism’ as the NATURE of a relationship, a partnership, an association, or bonding between two individual living entities based upon characteristics such as compassion, sympathy, understanding, cooperation, mutual assistance, mutual tolerance, voluntary subservience to provide some benefit to the member participating in the biotic interaction. Spiritualism is innate and is not acquired by learning experience. The man depends upon the protoplasmic substance for his very existence as a human being and to perform the characteristic living functions. The human form becomes the actuality that it represents by the Nature of its spiritual association with the protoplasmic living matter. Man is a spiritual being because of the spiritual nature of his living substance called protoplasm.
Rudolf is reborn as Rudi to describe the spiritual connection between the Cell and its Energy Provider
Rudi acknowledges his German heritage at Whole Foods when he discovered the spiritual connection between man, food, and Providence.
Whole Foods, Whole People, and Whole Planet are connected by a material substance called Protoplasm or Cytoplasm, a divine plan to provide nourishment to Life.
The Rudolf and Rudi Connection at Whole Foods, Ann Arbor can be best described as the concept of Whole Spirituality, the three dimensional spiritual relationship between the multicellular human organism, food, and the Divine Providence.
Spiritualism – The Cell Theory of Spirituality:
In Biology, cell is the basic or fundamental unit of structure, function, and organization in all living things or it is the building block of life. Let me begin with my respectful tribute to some of the people who contributed to ‘The Cell Theory’, one of the foundations of Biological Sciences. Cells were first observed in the 17th century shortly after the discovery of the microscope. Robert Hooke, british curator of instruments at The Royal Society of London, during 1665 coined the word cell. Dutch microscopist Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) made over 247 microscopes and examined microorganisms and tissue samples. He gave the first complete descriptions of bacteria, protozoa (which he called animalcules), spermatozoa, and striped muscle. He also studied capillary circulation and observed Red Blood Cells.
Improvements in microscopy during early 19th century permitted closer observation and the significance of cells had received better understanding. Matthias Jakob Schleiden (1838), German botanist, Theodor Schwann (1839), German physiologist, and Rudolf Virchow (1855), German pathologist, and others made important contributions to the Cell Theory that describes cell as the building block of all Life.
The Cell is the smallest unit in the living organism that is capable of carrying on the essential life processes of sustaining metabolism for producing energy and reproducing. Many simple, small, single-celled organisms like Protozoa perform all life functions. In higher, complex, bigger, multicellular organisms, groups of cells are structurally and functionally differentiated into specialized tissues and organ systems. Thus, the Cell Theory includes the following foundational principles of the Biological Sciences:
1. All living things are made up of cells. Cell is the most elementary or basic unit of Life.
2. Cell is a fundamental unit of structure, function, and organization in all living things including plants and animals.
3. Cells only rise from division of previously existing cells.
4. All cells are similar in composition, form, and function. All cells are basically the same in chemical composition (in spite of variations) in organisms of similar species. For example, all the solid tissues in the human body can be shown to consist largely of similar cells; differing it is true, but that are essentially similar to an Ovum.
5. The cells exhibit functional autonomy. The activity of an organism depends on the total activity of ‘INDEPENDENT’ cells.
6. Energy flow (metabolism and biochemistry) occurs within cells.
7. Cells contain hereditary, biological information (DNA) which is passed from cell to cell during cell division.
The Cell Theory of Spirituality:
The basic or fundamental unit of life in the human organism is derived from the fertilized egg cell that eventually develops into a complete organism. The most significant feature of similarity between the cells of the human body is the presence of a soft, gelatinous, semi-fluid, granular material inside the cell. This substance known as Protoplasm or Cytoplasm, or Cytosol is similar to the ground substance found in the Ovum or the Egg Cell.
This viscous, translucent, colloidal substance is enclosed in a membrane called Cell Membrane, Plasma Membrane or Biological Membrane. A small spherical body called nucleus is embedded in the Protoplasm of the cell. The three essential features of any living cell in the human body are that of the presence of protoplasm, the nucleus, and the cell membrane.
Protoplasm – The Ground Substance of Spiritualism and Spirituality:
I seek the existence of Soul or Spirit in a substance that is basic to life activities, and in a material that is responsible for all living processes. I, therefore, propose that the understanding of the true or real nature of this ground substance of all living matter will help man to discover peace, harmony, and tranquility in all of his internal and external relationships while man exists in a physical environment as a member of a social group, social community, and Society. In this blog post, I would like to pay my respectful tribute to Jan Evangelista Purkinje and Hugo Von Mohl for their great contribution to the scientific understanding of the living substance, living material, and living matter.
Purkinje conducted his research on human vision at the University of Prague and later on, he served there as a Professor of Physiology (1850-69). He went to Germany and was appointed the Chair of Physiology and Pathology (1823-50) at the University of Breslau, Prussia. There Purkinje created the world’s first independent Department of Physiology (1839) and the first Physiological Laboratory (Physiological Institute, 1842). He is best known for his discovery of large nerve cells with many branching extensions found in the cortex of Cerebellum of the brain (Purkinje Cells, 1837). He discovered the fibrous tissue that conducts electrical impulses from the ‘pacemaker’ called Atrioventricular node or A-V node along the inside walls of the ventricles to all parts of the heart to help in Cardiac contractile function (Purkinje Fibers, 1839). In 1835, he invented and introduced the scientific term ‘Protoplasm’ to describe the ground substance found inside young animal embryo cells. He discovered the sweat glands of the skin (1833); he discovered the nine configuration groups of Fingerprints used in biometric identification of man (1823); he described the germinal vesicle or nucleus of the unripe ovum that now bears his name (1825), and he noted the protein digesting power of pancreatic extracts (1836).
Hugo Von Mohl named the granular, colloidal material that made up the main substance of the plant cell as “Protoplasm” in 1846. Purkinje invented the word, but Hugo gave more clarity, understanding, and knowing the nature of this ground substance. He viewed cell as an “elementary organ” and in Physiology he explained Protoplasm as an organ of Motion or Movement, Nutrition, and Reproduction. It is the preliminary material in cellular generation. He was the first to propose that new cells are formed by division of preexisting cells and he had observed this process of Cell Division in the algal cells of Conferva glomerata. His observations are very important to understand the Cell Theory that explains cells as the basic building blocks of Life. He was the first to investigate the phenomenon of the stomatal openings in leaves.
Protoplasm is a complex, viscous, translucent solution of such materials as salts and simple sugars with other molecules, mostly proteins and fats, in a colloidal state, that is dispersed but not dissolved in one another. Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen constitute more than 90 percent of Protoplasm.
It exhibits properties such as Protoplasmic Streaming or Cytoplasmic Streaming or Motion that is called “Amoeboid Movement.” It has the intrinsic power to change its shape and position.
Protoplasm has the power of Nutrition by which it can attract and obtain the materials necessary for its growth and maintenance from surrounding matter/environment.
The living functions such as Nutrition, Cellular Respiration, and Reproduction performed by Cytoplasm involve acquiring, processing, retaining, and using information to perform tasks in a sequential manner for a predetermined purpose and hence describe Consciousness, Memory, and Intelligence.
The terms Soul and Spirit belong to the materialistic realm where the Physical Reality of man’s biological existence is established. I have not yet discovered any good reason to use the terms Soul and Spirit as a metaphysical or transcendental Reality.
The Inheritance of Cytoplasmic Membrane or Cell or Plasma Membrane:
The Functions of Cytoplasmic Membrane or Cell Membrane or Biological Membrane:
1. Protection: It protects the cell from its surroundings or extracellular environment. Plant cell possess wall over the plasma membrane for extra protection and support.
2. Holding cell contents: Plasma membranes hold the semi fluid protoplasmic contents of the cell intact; thus keeping the individuality of the cell.
3. Selective Permeability: Cell membrane allows only selected or specific substances to enter into the cell and are impermeable to others.
- Gases like O2 and CO2 can diffuse rapidly in solution through membranes.
- Small compounds like H2O and methane can easily pass through where as sugars, amino acids and charged ions are transported with the help of transport proteins.
- The size of the molecules which can pass through the plasma membrane is 1-15 A0. This property is responsible for keeping a cell ‘as a cell’, an individual unit.
4. Shape: It maintains form and shape of the cell. It serves as site of anchorage or attachment of the cytoskeleton; thus providing shape to the cell (especially in animal cells without cell wall).
5. Organelles: Cell membrane delimits or covers all sub-cellular structures or organelles like nucleus, mitochondria, plastids, Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, microbodies etc. thus protecting them form the surroundings and also helps in maintaining a constant internal environment.
6. Compartmentalization: Cell membrane separate the cells from their external environment and cell organelle from cytosol. It help the cells and their organelles to have their own microenvironments, structural and functional individuality.
7. Cell Recognition: With the help of glycolipids and glycoproteins on its surface, cell membranes are able to differentiate similar cells from dissimilar ones, foreign substances and cells own materials. Cell recognition is useful for tissue formation and defence against microbes.
8. Antigens: Cell membranes possess antigens which determine blood grouping, immune response, acceptance or rejection of a transplant (graft rejection by MHC’s on plasma membrane).
9. Microvilli: They are microscopic finger like projections of plasma membrane present on some cells like intestinal epithelial cells, which are involved in a wide variety of functions, including increasing surface area for absorption, secretion, cellular adhesion etc.
10. Sheaths of cilia and flagella: Cilia and flagella are projections from the cell; made up of microtubules which are covered by an extension of the plasma membrane.
11. Cytoplasmic bridges in plasmodesmata and gap junctions: Plasmodesmata in plant cells and gap junctions in animal cells; meant for intercellular transport and communication, form cytoplasmic bridges between adjacent cells through plasma membrane.
12. Endocytosis and Exocytosis: Bulk intake of materials or endocytosis occurs through development of membrane vesicles or invagination and engulfing by plasma membrane.
Exocytosis: It is reverse of endocytosis that provides for releasing waste products and secretory materials ot of the cells with the help of plasma membrane.
13. Impulse transmission in neurons: The transmission of a nerve impulse along a neuron from one end to the other occurs as a result of electrical changes across the plasma membrane of the neuron
14. Cell metabolism: Cell membranes control cell metabolism through selective permeability and retentivity of substances in a cell.
15. Electron transport chain in bacteria: In bacteria; Electron transport chain is located in cell membrane.
16. Osmosis through cell membrane: It is movement of solvent molecules (generally water) from the region of less concentrated solution to the region of high concentrated solution through a semi permeable membrane. Here the semi permeable membrane that helps in osmosis is the cell membrane. Eg: Root cells take up water from the soil by osmosis
17. Carrier proteins for active transport: They occur in the cell membranes and control active transport of substances. Example, GLUT1 is a named carrier protein found in almost all animal cell membranes that transports glucose across the bilayer or plasma membrane.
18. Plasma Membrane enzymes: Many enzymes are present on the plasma membrane with wide variety of catalytic activity. Example: Red blood cell plasma membranes contain a number of enzymes such as ATPases, anion transport protein, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, protein kinases, adenylate cyclase, acetylcholinesterase.
19. Cell Membrane Receptors: Receptor on the plasma membrane performs signal transduction, converting an extracellular signal into an intra-cellular signal. Membrane possess receptors for hormones, neurotransmitters, antibodies and several other biochemicals.
20. Plasma membrane assisted Cell movements: Undulation and pseudopodia are cell membrane phenomenon involved in cell movement. Amoeba, macrophages and WBCs move with the helps of temporary organelles like pseudopodia. Pseudopods are temporary cytoplasmic projections of the cell membrane in certain unicellular protists such as Amoeba. Some mammalian cells such as fibroblasts can move over a solid surface by wave like undulations of the plasma membrane.
The Ground Substance of Spiritualism and Spirituality. The vital characteristics, the animating principles of Protoplasm could be known by observing Amoeba proteus. The Living Substance works as an organ of Motion or Movement, as an organ of Nutrition, and as an organ of Reproduction to generate new cells which have a life span of their own. In these physiological functions, I describe the characteristics such as Cognition, Consciousness, Memory, and Intelligence as spiritual attributes of Life as they bring functional unity and harmony in the interactions between different parts of the same individual organism while it exists in an environment as a member of a biological community.
The Spirituality of Substance, Function, Organization, Action, and Interactions:
To establish the biological existence of the human organism, I add the concept of Spiritualism and Spirituality to the Cell Theory.
The Single Fertilized Egg Cell has ground substance that is of Spiritual nature and the Spiritualism and Spirituality consists of the following functional, and organizational characteristics:
1. The Cell is Conscious of its own existence and knows its internal condition and knows it external environment.
2. The Cell is intelligent and it has the cognitive abilities like perception and memory to acquire information, to retain information, to recall information, and to use information in the performance of its complex tasks in a sequential manner.
3. The Cell has the ability to show characteristics such as mutual cooperation, mutual tolerance, and display functional subordination and subservience while being independent.
4. The Cell grows, divides, and develops into a complete organism while it acquires substances and energy from an external environment. The power of Protoplasm/Cytoplasm to attract matter found in its external environment is called Nutrition. The Cell continuously transforms matter to build matter of its own kind for its own benefit to sustain its existence with its own identity and individuality. The Organism represents a social group or a biological community of Cells. The Spiritual nature of Protoplasm/Cytoplasm brings this functional harmony and unity in the Social Group or Biotic Community of Cells by bringing together its Essence and Existence.
5. The Cell Theory is incomplete for it does not describe the conditioned nature of the Cell’s existence. The Cell represents a Living System that is thermodynamically unstable. It requires a constant supply of matter and energy from its external environment to sustain its living functions. The concept of Whole Spirituality formulates the connection between the Cell and its external source of matter and energy.
The theoretical claims about Spirit and Soul, the religious and philosophical doctrines of Spiritualism and Spirituality must be verified using the Cell Theory that defines the human organism. To describe Soul or Spirit as nonmaterial or immaterial Self will not help man to know the real or true man.
Whole Foods, Whole People, and Whole Planet come together in a Wholesome Relationship as God is the Energy Provider, the Original Source of Matter and Energy for Life.