Walter Elsasser

Walter ElsasserIn science, Walter Elsasser (1904-1991) was a German-born American physicist noted for his work in attempting to apply physics to biology (chnopsology), albeit in what seems to have been an antireductionist (see: reductionist anti-reductionist debate) and or unbridgeable gap way. His views, supposedly, are similar to the "ecology of mind" theories of Gregory Bateson, produced independently at about the same time.

Unique events
Elsasser’s so-called “unique events” theory, according to Swiss two-cultures literature theorist Erland Lagerroth, categorically, is an ontic opening; such as been employed in the ascendency theories of American chemical engineering ecologist Robert Ulanowicz. [1]

Biotonic laws
In 1958, Elsasser, in his The Physical Foundation of Biology, postulated the existence of higher so-called “biotonic laws”, i.e. laws of nature which cannot be contained in the laws of physics, said to govern living systems. [2] English molecular biologist (chnopsologist) Francis Crick, in his 1966 Of Molecules and Men, derided Elsasser, defining him as an example of neovitalist, commenting on his book that: [4]

“Although the book was published in 1958, and although it has a few passing references to recent developments in molecular biology, it was clearly conceived in an earlier era, and it is a beautiful example of the confusion that can be brought about by ignorance.”

Hungarian-born American Eugene Wigner, conversely, in his 1967 Symmetries and Reflections, backed Elsasser up, commenting that he held a “firm conviction in the existence of biotonic laws.” [3]

1. (a) Ulanowicz, Robert E. (2008). “Process Ecology: Creatura at Large in an Open Universe”, in: A Legacy for Living Systems: Gregory Bateson and Precursor to Biosemiotics (pg. 125). Springer.
(b) Lagerroth, Erland. (2009). “In the Beginning was the Process”, Aug. 11. Reviews.
2. (a) Elsasser, Walter M. (1958). The Physical Foundation of Biology. Pergamon Press.
(b) Gatlin, Lila L. (1972). Information Theory and the Living System (pg. 15). Columbia University Press.
3. Wigner, Eugene P. (1967). Symmetries and Reflections. Indian University Press.
4. Crick, Francis. (1966). Of Molecules and Men. University of Washington Press.

Further reading
● Elsasser, Walter M. (1966). The Atom and the Organism. Princeton University Press.
● Elsasser, Walter M. (1969). “The Mathematical Expression of Generalized Complementarity” (abs), Journal of Theoretical Biology, 25:276-96.
● Rubin, H. (2005). “Walter Elsasser, Prophet of Biological Complexity, Seeker of Simplifying Rules” (abs), Cell. Bol. Biol. 51(7): 599-606.

External links
Walter M. Elsasser – Wikipedia.

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