Grammar of Science
In 1892, Karl Pearson, in his Grammar of Science, gave the first disproof of the premise of the existence of a "self-determined" system via use of the principle of inertia. [17]
In science, self- (TR:116) is a "loaded" — anthropomorphically, philosophically, or religio-mytholgically — prefix used in the characterization of the supposed-to-be behaviors of so-called "living", things, systems, or entities, particularly humans, which are said to be in possession of "self-motion" and thus able to self-organizing, self-reproducing, self-renewing, self-generating, self-sustaining, self-maintaining, self-replicating, self-creating, among numerous other terms, all of which amount to claims of perpetual motion (of the living kind) (or chemical kind) and which are views contrary to the principle of inertia.

Disproof | Principle of inertia
In 1892, English mathematician-physicist Karl Pearson gave the first disproof of the premise of the existence of a "self-determined" system using recourse to the principle of inertia as follows: [17]

“We cannot at present assert that the peculiar atomic structure of the life-germ and its environment, or field (p. 286), would not be sufficient to enable us on the basis of the laws of atomic motion to describe our perceptual experience of life. Such a broad generalization as that of the conservation of energy does not appear to be contradicted by our experience of the action of living organisms; but then the conservation of energy is not the sole factor of mechanism, as some fetish-worshippers nowadays imagine it to be. There is, for example, the principle of inertia, the statement that no physical corpuscle need be conceived as changing its motion except in the presence of other corpuscles, that there is no need of attributing to it any power of self-determination (p. 287). There are probably those who think some power of self-determination must be ascribed to the elementary organic corpuscle, but this seems very doubtful. Placed in a certain field, environed with other organic or inorganic corpuscles, the life-germ moves relatively to them in a certain manner, but there seems no reason to assert (indeed there are facts pointing in the exactly opposite direction) that any change of movement need be postulated were the life-germ entirely removed from this environment. Indeed the whole notion of self-determination as an attribute of living organisms seems to have arisen from those extremely complex systems of organic corpuscles, where the environment in the form of immediate sense-impressions determines change through a chain of stored sense-impresses peculiar to the individual or self (p. 124).”

Einstein, who read Pearson, would later (1921) seem to employ Pearson’s “sensory impression” logic in response to queries to him about the existence of the soul and and personal, individual development after death (see: Einstein on the soul).

Self- | Issues
See main: Self terminology reform
In 1961, Ross Ashby noted that: “the adjective [self-organization] is, if used loosely, ambiguous, and if used precisely, self-contradictory”. [18] On the question of organization, Ashby is quoted as asking the question: “can a system be self-organizing?” To which he answers: “no system can permanently have the property that it changes properties.” [19] The following is another representative view:

“No organism reproduces itself. The only thing that ever has had such a claim made for it was the phoenix.”
— Ross Ashby (1962),“The Self-Reproducing System” [20]

In 2009, Ronald Fox, in communication with Libb Thims, and also in his treatise Energy and the Evolution of Life (1983), attempted to explained why the prefix "self-" must be carefully used. Energy, for instance, drives processes that are structurally "self-replicating" like RNA molecules inside a vesicle. Likewise, according to Fox, self-assembly of membranes is almost “self-”, but is driven by the release of entropy. [21]

Difficulties | Perpetual motion
The idea that chemical systems (as all earth systems are) self-assemble, self-reproduce, or self-maintain, etc., is paramount to a description of working perpetual motion machine. The terms are not used in standard chemistry theory, yet are paradoxically used in biology. When hydrogen and oxygen atoms are mixed together and they form water:

2H2 + O2 → 2H20

We do not say that the reactants “self-assembled” to form the products of water, but rather a chemical reaction occurred. This would be the case even if the reaction was heated (such as are human reactions via solar heat), which only effects the activation energy. What seems to be the case is that the term “self-” is used in biology, as convoluted way to introduce a free will and choice into the discussion evolution, which of course is an incorrect view. In general, to a good approximation, any discussion that employs the prefix term “self-” amounts to what is camouflaged perpetual motion theory or in technical terms "perpetual motion of the biological kind", the last of the perpetual motion theories.

Self motion
In 1490, Leonardo da Vinci, in his notebooks, moved from simply describing inventions to a more intense search for underlying principles, the laws of motion, in particular. In respect to what Newton would later categorized, in 1687, as the first law of motion, Da Vinci wrote: [11]

“No 'thing' whatever can be moved by itself, but its motion is effected through another. There is no other force.”

In c.1675, English physicist Isaac Newton, in his personal communications on religious alchemy, speculated on the notion of "self motion" as follows: [16]

God who gave animals self motion beyond our understanding is without doubt able to implant other principles of motion in bodies which we may understand as little. Some would readily grant me a spiritual one; yet a mechanical one might be shown.”

Here, Newton vacillates on whether motion of animals is mechanical or spiritual; whereas da Vinci, by comparison, hits the nail on the head: no thing whatever, humans included, can be moved by its self.

Self-intensification | Cooling | Perpetual motion
The story of American engineer Charles E. Tripler (1849-1906) and his 1897 invention of the “liquid air machine”, a type of steam-driven machine able to liquefy air in large quantities, exemplifies the usage of the prefix self and perpetual motion. Tripler posited that:

“Liquid air is a new substance that promises to do the work of coal and ice and gunpowder at next to no cost.”

Tripler’s machine worked, but, in the words of American low-temperature-physics historian Tom Shachtman, he knew so little of chemistry and physics that his understanding of the principles of operations led to over-the-top claims, such as his assertion that he had fed 3 quarts of liquid air into his machine, and because of cold’s ability to produce additional cold through evaporation (Joule-Thomson effect), he had been able to obtain 10 quarts of liquid air from the energy provided by the original 3 quarts. As summarized by Shachtman: [10]

“The ability to use a liquid’s own coldness to make a portion of it colder, though at the cost of warming the rest, was something James Dewar liked to demonstrate, but Tripler’s understanding of what he called ‘self-intensification’ of cold was faulty, and pushed him to the equivalent of a claim of perpetual motion.”


Self-assembly | Neumann automaton theory
In 1949, Hungarian-born American mathematician John Neumann famously described his automaton self-assembly theory using the picture of a parts floating on a lake out of which an automaton could self-replicate itself. In more detail, in a late 1940s Hixton Symposium, organized by American chemical engineer Linus Pauling, Neumann invented a famous thought experiment which illustrates the role which free energy plays in creating statistically unlikely configurations of matter. Neumann imagined a robot or automaton, made of wires, electrical motors, batteries, etc., constructed in such a way that when floating on a lake stoked with component parts, it will reproduce itself (self-replicate). The important point about Neumann’s automaton, however, is that it would require a source of free energy in order to function. [1]

Self-organization | Dissipative strutures
The most cited book in all of the various self-terms is Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine’s 1977 book Self-Organization in Non-Equilibrium Systems: from Dissipative Structures to Order through Fluctuations, a book whose credibility was strengthened by the win the Nobel Prize in chemistry that same year. [2] Frank Schweitzer’s 1997 bibliography of books on self-organization indicates that Prigogine’s book opened the floodgate. [3]

Self-organized criticality
The most-dominant keyword in the 2006 book Weak Links, by Hungarian biochemist Peter Csermely, on the subject of social, economic, biological (e.g. proteins), and ecological weak links, is ‘self-organized criticality’, introduced in 1987 by Danish theoretical physicist Per Bak, associated with a set of events involving sand piles or rice piles, referred to as a ‘rather loosely defined concept, describing a phenomenon in which, in a network with restricted relaxation, a gradual increase in tension is followed by sudden avalanches. [8]

In 1988, American physicist Ronald Fox used thermodynamics to argue that life is a “self-generating and self-sustaining” system. [4] In the same vein, Fox also states that life is “dependent” on the energy of the sun. One cannot, however, be self-sustained if one is vitally dependent or rather driven by an external supply. The latter supposition contradicts the former.

Autocatalytic closure
A rendition of Stuart Kauffman's 1995 auto-catalytic closure mechanism, which he employs to the "catching fire" start of the origin of life.

Self-catalyzed reproduction | Dead molecular species
In 1995, American biochemist Stuart Kauffman put forward a popular theory of catalytic closure (or auto-catalytic closure) in which, as he argues, at a certain threshold of molecular diversity in the course of the evolution of a system that a collection of molecular species can suddenly become “alive”. In his own words: [5]

“If a sufficiently diverse mix of molecules accumulates somewhere, the chances that an autocatalytic system—a self-maintaining and self-reproducing metabolism—will spring forth becomes a near certainty … life, at its roots, lies in the property of catalytic closure among a collection of molecular species. Alone, each molecular species is dead [see: dead molecule]. Jointly, once catalytic closure among them is achieved, the collective system of molecules is alive.”

In short, what Kauffman argues is that reactions such as:

A → B → C

in which one of the end products C acts as a catalyst to one of the initial reactants A, can be described as being auto-catalyzing or self-catalyzing and are thus the prototypes of life. This is one of the better "self-term arguments", but is still paramount to a biological perpetual motion reaction or mechanism. Moreover, there is no such thing a an "alive molecule". [6]

Thermodynamic self-organization
In 1997, Russian physical chemist Georgi Gladyshev, in his book Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings, devoted a half-page appendix section to what he called "thermodynamic self-organization", which he defined in short as the spontaneous ordered joining of the structures of the i-th heirarchy into the structures of the (i+1)-th hierarchy. [11] This type of term, however, is but contrary to thermodynamics itself, according to the first law and second law are the back bone to the disproof of perpetual motion.

Self-caused | Self-agency
In 2002 American philosopher Christian de Quincey, in his book Radical Nature, uses the "extrapolate downward approach" (apply anthropomorphism to explain chemistry and physics), compared to the "extrapolate upward approach" (apply chemistry and physics to explain human behavior). To give an example of this, de Quincey states "as we know it to be certainly true, consciousness and the ability to make choices exist in our own case, then we can generalize and say that consciousness and choice exist at the macro level [and micro level]", and say that "some entity, say an electron or photon, is exercising its self-action, free will, or choice in how it will move." [12] The use of the term “self-caused” is cited as a coinage of American philosopher Arthur Young, who argues that the actions of subatomic entities, such as electrons, are self-caused, in a quantum mechanical or photonic sense, somehow. [13] De Quincey, to note, also employs terms such as "self-agency" and "self-motion" in attempts to explain human feelings and the human mind in the context of what he considers the standard model of what he calls the "dead" universe. De Quincy, in short, uses the extrapolate downward approach to argue, in short, that since people are perceived to be self-moving that so to must fermions and bosons be sentient and and self-moving: [12]

“If the universe is not ‘dead’, if it is not simply a huge mechanical system running according to a handful of laws at work in a vast ocean of chaos then it is in some sense ‘alive’. A more accurate term would be ‘sentient’—an inherent capacity for feeling or experience. In other words, to make explicit the main argument of the book: the matter of the universe, its raw stuff or ingredients, has within itself the essence of what we call ‘consciousness.’ There is something about matter itself, some quality or property, some intrinsic principle, that moves matter from within, an automotive urge toward self-organization, evolution, and complexity. In short, matter feels and moves itself. It doesn’t require external forces pushing and pulling it.”

The argument here amounts to the claim that perpetual motion exists and typifies the general type of convoluted and recursive style of argument authors tend to use when the term "self-" is employed, namely to substantiate antiquated models of human existence, such as free will and choice, in modern disguise.

In 2002, American physicist Jack Hokikian stated that the cells in the pancreas get replaced every 24 hours, the stomach lining every 3 days, and the white blood cells every 10 days; and then cites Austrian-born American theoretical physicist Fritjof Capra in stating that “this mechanism of self-renewal is often called self-organization.” [7]

American chemist and physician David Alkek argues, in his 2007 book The Self-Creating Universe, that the universe, life, and human societies have a purpose in a new-paradigm “law of increasing complexity”, a complexity theory law counter to the second law (he defines as the law which predicts progressive disorganization), which instills a “self-development” (self-creation) of increased form, organization, and complexity. He introduces the term “ipsa-creation” to define the self-development of the “unfinished universe”. [9]

In his 2009 Nature article "Is Free Will and Illusion?", German neurobiologist Martin Heisenberg argues that because some fundamental processes in the brain, like the opening and closing of ion channels and the release of synaptic vesicles, occur supposedly at random, thus supposedly not determined by environmental stimuli that behavior can be considered as "self-generated", which forms the basis for free will. [15]

In 2011, in defense of his genopsych anti-entropy theory, Indian chemical engineer DMR Sekhar promotes a "self drive" theory of human motion, which he says is not a type of perpetual motion because: "a human uses his or her internal biological energy and their will, but this is not same as perpetual motion machine, because a human takes in food from external environment to accumulate and or store internal biological energy”. [14]

1. (a) Avery, John. (2003). Information Theory and Evolution (pg. 89). London: World Scientific.
(b) Neyman J. (1967). “R.A. Fisher (1980-1962): An Appreciation”, Science, 156: 1456-62.
(c) Neumann, John von. (1966). Theory of Self-Replicating Automata. University of Illinois Press.
2. Nicolis, Gregoire and Prigogine, Ilya. (1977). Self-Organization in Non-Equilibrium Systems: From Dissipative Structures to Order Through Fluctuations. Wiley.
3. Schweitzer, Frank. (1997). Self-Organization of Complex Structures (pgs. xxiii-xxiv). CRC Press.
4. Fox, Ronald F. (1988). Energy and the Evolution of Life (sections: Jacket; Preface, pgs. ix-xi; Free energy table, pgs. 16-19). New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
5. Kauffman, Stuart. (1995). At Home in the Universe - the Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity (pg. 50). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
6. Thims, Libb. (2009). “Letter: Life a Defunct Scientific Theory”, Journal of Human Thermodynamics, Vol. 5, pgs. 20-21.
7. (a) Hokikian, Jack. (2002). The Science of Disorder: Understanding the Complexity, Uncertainty, and Pollution in Our World (pg. 65). Los Feliz Publishing.
(b) Capra, Fritjof. (1982). The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture (pgs. 269-72). Simon and Schuster.
8. (a) Csermely, Peter. (2006). Weak Links: the Universal Key to the Stability of Networks and Complex Systems (self-organized criticality, 40+ pgs.) . Springer. 2009, 2nd ed.
(b) Self-organized criticality – Wikipedia.
9. Alkek, David S. (2007). The Self-Creating Universe: A Synthesis of Science, Philosophy, and Religion Creating a Theory of Universal Existence (thermodynamics, pgs. 24, 81-88, 137-43). iUniverse. (ebook).
10. Shachtman, Tom. (1999). Absolute Zero and the Quest for Absolute Cold (pg. 164). Mariner Books.
11. Gladyshev, Georgi, P. (1997). Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings (appendix: Thermodynamic self-organization, pg. 137). Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers.
12. De Quincey, Christian. (2002). Radical Nature: Rediscovering the Soul of Matter (quote, pg. 41). Invisible Cities Press.
13. Young, Arthur. (1976). The Reflexive Universe: Evolution of Consciousness (thermodynamics, 4+ pgs). Delacorte Press.
14. (a) Self drive (March 2011) – threads.
(b) Sekhar, DMR. (2010). “The Drive and the Direction of Evolution” (cached), Knol .
(c) Defunct theory of life (2011) – forums.
15. (a) Heisenberg, Martin. (2009). "Is Free Will and Illusion?", Nature, 459(7244): 164-65.
(b) Harris, Sam. (2010). The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (pg. 103-04). Free Press.
16. Gleick, James. (2003). Isaac Newton (pg. 105-06). Vintage Books.
17. Pearson, Karl. (1892). The Grammar of Science (pg. #). Adam and Charles Black, 1900.
18. Dyson, George. (1997). Darwin Among the Machines (pg. 175-76). De Capo Press.
Ross Ashby (quotations) – George Washington University.
Ashby, W. Ross. (1962). “The Self-Reproducing System”, in: Aspects of the Theory of Artifical Intelligence (editor: C.A. Muses) (pgs. 9-18). Plenum Press; in: Mechanisms of Intelligence (pgs. 75-83). Eipiphiny Society.
21. Communicate from Fox to Libb Thims on 07/13/09.
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