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Organicism:From absolute order to natural return

Liu Gongjie

28 Jun 2022

Organic was first widely recognized as a biological concept. But in contemporary discussions, organicity has moved beyond traditional biological categories into broader fields, cultural studies, sociology, and computing. I want to talk about organicity from different perspectives and fields through this article, and I look forward to bringing you more thinking.

Organic System Whole and Part

A superorganism is a large system of many organisms, which usually means a social unit of a eusocial animal, where the social division of labor is highly specialized and individuals cannot survive alone for long periods of time. Ants are considered to be typical superorganisms in nature. They have a strict order and a clear division of labor. Ants never seek the optimal route in a local sense. Strategy. Some ants will form a group to wrap the queen in it, and by rolling away from the danger zone, at the expense of the outer layer, the ant colony can continue to survive. Similar examples include: Physarum polycephalum, which was used to guide the construction of subways is all too familiar, slime molds have no brains, and all so-called intelligent behaviors are constructed in the dynamic perception of the environment. But their decisions are comparable to having high-performance supercomputers, and they are the representatives of distributed intelligence.

Science fiction superorganism

In EVA, apostles are considered to be superorganic beings. They are efficient and have strong vitality. In EVA's story, apostles mean the representatives of perfect life, and also the reference for human beings to carry out the completion plan. In the science fiction Solaris, a superorganic life form is presented, which is both a planet and a living creature. As alien lifeforms, they all bring humans a reference, the potential evolutionary path of our life. This idea leads to the discussion of mechanical and organic systems: like gears and cells, salamander cells carry all their genetic material, so they can constantly repair themselves. In fact they have no absolute difference between the individual and the whole. The individual is the whole. Gears are partial things under absolute order. In all technological objects or artificial systems, the attachment to "automationism" is pervaded, so each part has its own unique value and is distinguished from other parts. Such a differentiation of absolute meaning often leads to One point is broken, and the whole line collapses. The more complex systems are often the more fragile. This shows their biggest difference, organic systems have emergent and autopoietic qualities, they have the ability to break established boundaries. This quality is in In the discussion of human intelligence and artificial intelligence.

Organic Creation Gaudi to Zaha

It is difficult to say that the architecture of Gaudí and Zaha is a product of the same kind

Gaudi's architecture was born during the Art Nouveau period. The only one still under construction is the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. His architecture celebrates nature with humility, and he depicts a scene in which humans and nature coexist in harmony. In his architecture, we see the vitality and gentleness of nature. His architecture is also reflective. In the era of industrialized production, it represents human beings' first detachment from nature and their deep doubts about industrialized production.

Zaha Hadid's buildings are also known for their organic lines and exaggerated volumes. Thanks to the maturity of digital fabrication technology, a large number of curved surfaces appear in architectural practice. But Zaha’s architecture doesn’t feel intimate, it always stands out from the environment. Its architecture also caters to the burgeoning urbanization process in China, and works designed by Zaha and her team can be seen in almost every first-tier city. In the center of the city stands a huge building that looks like it came from an alien civilization. This kind of straightforward declaration of technology is most appropriate as the power of capital fostered by a social climate of consumerism. This may not be the original intention of the builders, but at this moment they have completed a conspiracy and jointly shaped the urban appearance of modern China.

From a practical point of view: Gaudí's architecture uses a lot of elements from nature, which is a simulacrum of nature in man-made space, a description full of appreciation. Zaha's architecture is developed through parametric computational tools that provide a simulation of biological properties that is so intense and detached from the objective world that it is unquestionably a complete artifact. We put it into the real world from the computational space, and in doing so we get an organic style that is not natural. It is a kind of reshaping of nature, it swears that the technological power of human beings is above nature, everything can be regulated, everything is just data, human beings depict a "natural" form, but it never belongs to over natural.

Organic Technology : Revisiting the "Needham Problem"

The famous "Needham problem" mentioned: Why has China failed to develop a scientific and technological system similar to that of the West?

I think it's very "Western-centrism". Maybe I should ask, does China have to develop a Western-like science and technology system? The Western science and technology system, which originated in the ancient Greek period, showed its brilliance in the analysis of philosophers. After the development of the Renaissance and the Reformation, it swept the world with the help of the two industrial revolutions. It is underpinned by formal logic and deduction. In the eyes of today's people, traditional China has technology but no science, whether it is the strong natural history of the "Compendium of Materia Medica". It is also Song Yingxing's "Heavenly Creation of Things" that shows China's cosmology technology that takes the sky as the induction and attaches importance to the human and moral system. The Western technological system presents a mechanical type, constantly exploring and subdividing things based on reductionism, while the Chinese technological system is an organic system, which is constantly improving over time and constantly improving itself.

Traditional medicine provides a good example. Meridian theory and herbal prescription are difficult to demonstrate with modern scientific system, but it is indeed effective, especially in dealing with certain chronic diseases and intractable diseases. Implicit in modern narratives about technology is the idea that technological systems are universally unique and that the order is strongly exclusive and automatically acquires a detached status. But is all this for granted?

In the technical practice of contemporary China, we often encounter two situations:

1. There is always a need to localize technological systems to adapt to social realities

2. We always play the role of a technology chaser with a clear path and purpose.

In such an embarrassing situation of being tech-savvy but not tech- culture, we may be caught in a perpetual vortex.At present, some of China's technologies are already in a leading position. Take artificial intelligence quantum computing as an example. In the future, there will be no advancer to learn from. Therefore, we must find our own development path. We should start from our own social reality, think about the future, and define our own desirable ways for technological development by creating critical discussions of intellectual equality, establishing broad communication paths between the public and experts. This may be a return to an era of technological diversity. More importantly, we will avoid falling into a dangerous situation of "expert governance" and curb the consequences of technological hegemony. Response to Mr. Needham: In the foreseeable future, we will re-enter the future of technological diversification. As a representative of a civilization, China's core is significantly different from that of the West. Perhaps this will lead to the technological system between us. We can still find a development path that suits us.

Organic Differentiation and Localization of Culture

The essence of modernization is actually westernization

French director Jacques Tati creates a shining urban Paris in the film "Playtime"

The transparent glass curtain wall of the right-angled concrete building, the people in straight clothes, and many cultural prejudices can be seen in such a bizarre film showing modern sexual life. Although the short-statured Japanese people are dressed in neat suits, their postures are funny. Obviously, they are not regarded as part of modern society. There are also Germans who roar when they encounter troubles, and British people who love to take advantage of small things. Through such labelling of characters, it is shown that there is a kind of potential order in a highly consistent world. This implicit order reveals that modernity is not absolutely fair, it is the calm of a dominant culture after global expansion, a division of an order that obeys the victors. Modernity obliterates the regional and nationality of culture, and presents a false appearance of one family in the world-modernity does not bring about a certain culture, but kills it.

In response, we should maintain the locality and difference of culture. This is also the only way for all non-Western cultures to continue their own culture. From the dead silence of modernity, we should return to the discussion of localization and build our own cultural context. , attach importance to differences and seek coexistence, only then can we embrace an era of cultural prosperity in the future.

Organic society back to nature

Our society is undoubtedly a complex system. Since the industrial revolution, human technology has come a long way. It is not difficult to create an artificial environment. The space station is a good example. But it also stimulates delusion, which gives us the illusion that we can live outside the ecosystem. Leaving this aside, the contemporary ecological concept has long separated human beings from nature and listed nature as an object that can be observed and transformed. Artificiality indicates victory over nature, but what happens after victory?

We are still at a loss for urgent social problems, over-manufacturing monopoly Alienation of labor and severe environmental problems, and countless wars due to unequal distribution of benefits. It is difficult to operate this delicate and complex system for a long time. A more convincing example is the failure of Ecosphere No. 1 and No. 2 experiments. At least it shows that we cannot reproduce and recreate a nature under the current technological conditions.

Biophilia Hypothesis points out that humans have a natural tendency to contact nature and other species, and even if humans lose their daily perception experience of nature, such closeness will be included in our genes and passed down from generation to generation. Such a connection indicates the inevitable return. We will eventually return to the nature that nurtured us. Cut off our arrogance and coexist with all things in a humble attitude. In that real and vibrant nature contains the answer to relieve all our troubles. Both body and spirit are at peace.


Finally, returning to the discussion of organicity, this article has launched a discussion on organicity from various perspectives such as biology, technology, society, and culture. Organicity offers an entirely new concept that differs from the pursuit of local certainty. It does not construct an absolute, affirmative system. Instead, it is a changing, big-picture system that grows and pushes boundaries outward. I expect this notion to be a good complement to our current way of knowing. Brings new ideas to the face of complex and undefined problems. I look forward to our future being inclusive and diverse.

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