Constructal law can predict patterns in living systems. [Link]
“Our finding that animal locomotion adheres to constructal law tells us that – even though you couldn’t predict exactly what animals would look like if you started evolution over on earth, or it happened on another planet – with a given gravity and density of their tissues, the same basic patterns of their design would evolve again,” [Penn state biologist James] Marden added.
The law, which [Adrian] Bejan started describing in 1996, is the principle that flow systems evolve in time to balance and minimize imperfections, reducing friction or other forms of resistance, so that they flow more and more easily in time. He is fond of using illustrations to make his point. For example, he has used images ranging from the branching symmetries of the lungs, river basins and trees touching top-to-top.
This is amazing! It is basically a ratification of historical materialism, at least as applies to physics. Physical systems (and according to Adrian Bejan, physiological systems) evolve according to a certain logic of flow. It is not random, but it is "guided" by a reduction of friction and a minimization of imperfections. Could we (as Marxian blog authors with a penchant for simplification and abstraction) say that the course of human history and its systems seeks to overcome contradictions as it evolves? Why yes, we could!
I must read more about flow systems, and constructal law. It sounds like a possible refutation of "will", replacing it was something not quite as base as determinism, yet still materially controlled.
Although human behavior is in some ways more complicated than physics, behavior is in many ways simply an extension of our physiology. Behavior evolves to environs faster than physiology in many instances. So, our so-called human "social" systems, which are simply complicated analyses and explanations of our own animal behavior, could also probably evolve according to this constructal law. Do our societies evolve to "balance and minimize imperfections, reducing friction or other forms of resistance"? In many ways, yes.
The caveats, of course: systems and certainly, animal behavior, also reverse-evolve, spinning off into species-death. This is because, I would imagine, constructal law holds true for the larger system, and not the sub-system. An individual river bank may crumble, but the overall delta conforms to the expected pattern. Humans could easily trigger their own demise before we evolve to overcome our own eco-systemic resistance.
And similarly: flaws in models and theories of human behavior often are failures in description. No substantial theory really fails, it simply runs out of rope at some point. Lemarkian evolution could be correct when it comes to skills or behavior patterns, just not animal physiology. Marxian historical materialism is basically right when it comes to its description of production, but not when it comes to actually predicting history. And so forth. This is because they are human descriptions of physical action, or what we recognize as physical action. So this means that a constructal understanding of human behavior can only rationalize as much as the average human rationally understands as physical action under the theory. In other words, we are back with Marx's problem. We can say that materially, history is all fucked up. But we can't say the future will work itself out, until it does, and then we can say, "see, history straightened its shit out."
So, this is a really cool idea because it justifies us pointing to material facts to explain history (of river beds, human legs, or capitalism) rather than other crackpot ideas with little to no evidence. Theory makes sense: therefore use theory. But it is still just a theory, and is always looking backward.
Why is it always looking backward? Because of the limitations of Kant's notion of time-space and the limitations of the phenomenal senses we can trust.
See? That was easy.
Man--this constructal law shit has to really piss off the Christians. Evidence for Marx and evolution in the same theory? It must be a conspiracy.