CYBERNETICS AND THE SYSTEM OF REGULATION
Systems thinking was defined when thinkers like Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1950, 1968a, 1968b) and Norbert Wiener (1948) created a rigorous model for the notions of system and of regulation. Laborit is one of those who introduced this way of thinking in France.
Ascending and Descending Causal Chains. In the example of the rapport between the membrane’s pump and yoga poses for male the internal environment, there is a constant oscillation between the concentration of sodium around the cell and in the cell. These variations are due to three factors at least:84
1. The variations induced by the cycles of the organism (the biorhythms).
2. The variations induced by the environment in which the organism finds itself.
3. The organism/environment interaction produces a chain of modifications at each level (organs, cells, etc.) of the organism This cascading action, which influences each level of the organism, is referred to as descending and ascending. For Laborit, stress is produced by mechanisms embedded in cascading dynamics.
The environment imposes some conditions on the organism; the organism yoga poses for male has its own proper conditions for its existence. These two types of conditions create a vital dialogue between the metabolic demands and what the environment has to offer. Take the example of temperature. If the basal milieu of the human organism is not 36°C (98.6°F), the organism can die. The environment of the planet follows dynamics that do not take this exigency into account.
Temperature activates a descending causal chain that has influenced the mechanisms of evolution (only that which can live in an existing geographic system survives), and all of the organism’s levels of organization. This influence is going to be countered by a series of local ascending reactions, which regroup themselves to adapt, more or less effectively, to what the planet offers. This ascending chain was constructed, mostly phylogenetically, to protect the exigencies of the internal environment. We now know that these bottom/up demands can influence the planetary system.
Psyche and Organism in Biology. Laborit does not spend much time situating the psyche in his model because it is not a topic that he studied.85 However, he needs to situate psychological dynamics in his general system. He situates them in a particularly complex part of the organizational system of the organism In the previous section, we have determined the necessity to coordinate two axes:
1. The coordination of organism/environment.
2. The coordination of the ascending and descending causal chains of the organism.