Heirs to Still Being or Having? - Expansions - rétraction

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Expansion - rétraction

This exchange enables the cell to feel itself as existing, as an individual entity… Change is necessary in order for sensation to exist. It matters little whether this change occurs towards the outside or towards the inside, as long as change occurs. The alternation between efflux and influx is what gives rise or creates the exchange. This is how the living system can know that it exists, while still conserving its energy to some degree. Consciousness is preserved through this alternation: “Consciousness and breathing intermingle: they are one.” (De Smedt, 2001, 10 - English translation). As do all alternating phenomena, the exchange tends towards self-regulation and a the expression of a steady rhythm.

The exchange also generates a cycle of alternating expansion/retraction within the cell. Therefore, the cell behaves like a converter: converting exchange or communication into movement. And, this is how movement emerges from immobility.

In the words of one of Sutherland’s close students, Thomas F. Schooley: “If all matter is in motion and if all motion is fluctuant in its primary phase, and fluctuation being composed of two cycles, one expansile and one contractile, then fluctuation must be rhythmical. If one phase is affected by the other, then there must be an interchange of an energy factor between the two phases for fluctuation. If fluctuation occurs in all matter there must be a central point from which it originates, and this point therefore has no motion and may be called a Fulcrum. Also there must be a fulcrum for each atom, each molecule and each mass of matter.” (Schooley, 1951, 72-73 and Magoun, 1951, 72).


To say the body is an organized system is a truism. It is this very observation that led Still to perceive the body as created by a Great Architect: “At every stroke of the Master Architect of the universe, you will see the proof of intelligence, and His work is absolute” (Still, 1897, 282). However, what interests us here is not the creator, but how the system is organized, as organization appears to be fundamental to evolution.

Structure and Function

It is generally accepted that all specific tissues and organs are fashioned in response to the imperatives encountered by living systems as they evolve and complexify, and that this process is driven by living organisms’ fundamental survival instinct - or pulsion of survival. With each increase in complexity, new challenges emerged, requiring urgent and effective solutions. It is also probable that, at each stage, many solutions were tested before the right solution emerged and prevailed. However, at the same time, each solution that was found at a given stage in evolution went on to generate more complex problems needing to be resolved through the creation of further specializations, etc. This is how, in response to the requirement for specific functions, differentiated structures were created. We could say the very same thing backwards: differentiated structures were created for the purpose of fulfilling specific functions. This reversible formulation shows us that structure and function are a pair, the front and flip side of a single coin. Indeed, in living systems, structure and function cannot be understood or defined separately.