Characteristics of Nested Living Systems

Living systems are nested and consist of basic materials, cells, organisms, ecosystems,and their environments, continuously interacting in time and space.

Life is an integrated process of nested living systems, in a holarchy. This holarchy is described.

We synthesise and discuss exergy capturing and accumulation of organisational exergy; the structuring of the system towards maximum entropy production and export of high entropy products; autopoiesis; emergent attractors or optimum operating points; characteristics of nested systems and holarcic levels; and the role of working and latent information.

It is concluded that it is only possible to describe the livingness of a system in a continuous way, and that living matter should be defined by the processes of which it is a part.

Hence, from the perspective of self-organisingand nested living systems it is difficult to draw boundaries between living and non-living as well as human and non-human systems.

Implications of this world-viewis discussed in relation to environmental management.

Key words: self-organisation, autopoiesis, holarchy, life processes, evolution