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The true meaning of function and design

By G.Antuan
Feb 7, 2010
(Revised March 21, 2010)

The functionality of any form is determined by its structure.


Unstructured form doesn’t tend towards any function at all; in essence it
contains no information; it is the character of death itself, decomposition.
The evidence of structure and design, is the evidence of functionality. As
an example, chemically speaking, this is the reason a denaturalized protein
or enzyme losses it ability to perform its common task or any other task,
and when this happens all sorts of deformities and troubles happen, the
biological functionalities begin to fail.

Structure alone, that character which implies a particular design and


order, which makes its presence meaningful or effective within a given
context, is the fundamental motive and condition that makes any non-
random interaction possible. Structure and design are the qualities which
propel all sorts of composite mechanisms. It is these things alone which
make the living to act alive.

There is an inseparable relationship between structure and


information. It is impossible to keep, sustain or retain information of any
kind if there is no order, structure or design. Information storage not only
requires but depends on these things. This leads to the following truth:
were ever there is an identifiable structure, form, design or order, there we
would find information. This connection is even more relevant when we
consider the fact that without information, knowledge is impossible. Thus
we see in the universe the foundations necessary for such a thing as
knowledge to arise, just because structures, forms, design or order are
natural events all through the evolution of the universe. This is true even if
living organisms or living nature is not so common through the universe,
since these would represent the more selective higher hierarchy of
structure and design; living beings exhibit the highest and most complex
expression of possible structures in the universe. In end, this ‘universal
evolution’ then provides the ‘raw conditions’ necessary for knowledge to be
possible.

But it is our ambition here to point out that the mere possibility of
knowledge is the only necessary ingredient for knowledge to arise. This
possibility starts with the possibility of structure or order. Structure leads
to information, and information leads to knowledge. Structure could be
either randomly designed, guided by some unknown source, or as an
inevitable universal condition given the laws governing all underlying
physics. According to this last proposition, the only thing necessary is a
fundamental cause, that thing which “threw the first rock” or “blew things
into existence” or the first chunk of matter or gasses following a particular
set of unavoidable rules given time and these material elements.

It is through this contemplations that we’d now like to give a deeper


than ever meaning to the concept of knowledge. There was a time when
the acquisition of knowledge was the greatest human virtue, but then it
was argued that the search for knowledge alone is pointless, or that it
simply leaves the human spirit empty, trapped in a senseless void, inaction
and emotionless. But this last argument ignores the single most essential
outcome of knowledge: meaning. Knowledge provides the ability to find
and give meaning, especially individual meaning. There is no doubt that
our universe is filled with mystery, too many unknowns. This condition
might not ever change, but in our attempt to better understand ourselves,
to better define our selves, our place or purpose in the universe, we should
always strive to know a bit more each day, to learn from the universe we
live in. As we like to say: “To learn to speak and listen to the language of
the universe”. This ‘ability’ we gain through the study of structure, the
designs and order in the universe. Instead of asking what might be the
purpose of God or were does it all lead to, let’s dwell deeper into the
structures of the universe. Step by step, like gracing through eternity,
through the information inherent in all structures we find clues that reveal
the wonders about ourselves. Our true purpose in life is the search of
knowledge to find meaning, true meaning, actually, the perfection of
meaning.

In the end we might actually understand there is a purpose for


existence of the universe after all. Structure and order in the universe
might posses a kind of inalienable material will. It might signify the origins
of conscience as we know it. Structure is the storehouse of information and
thus it’s the universal expression of knowledge, it carries an essence which
affirms meaning from the simplest to the most complex of things. It is
these qualities, structure, order and design, which interact within a given
environment establishing all complex living systems. Any setting that
provides an environment, fundamentally stable because of a given
structure or system of structures, where complexity could arise, is most
likely to reach, express and sustain life and its amazing amount of
interactions and complexities.

A clear example is found in the misuse or contamination of our soil. It


is well known that deprived soil doesn’t allow for the formation of complex
molecules, a natural process caused by the countless microorganisms that
thrive under optimal or normal conditions. Soil depravation leads to the
instability and destruction of its living microorganisms, destroying one of
the most fundamental “nurseries” of complexity.
The essence of complexity is structure. From single atoms to
molecules, from small molecules to larger ones like proteins and DNA;
chemically speaking, all this process of evolving complexity happens
because it favors stability, because when two atoms bond, a release of
energy happens (negative enthalpy). It is precisely from a biological point
of view where the concept of entropy breaks apart; life being the ultimate
condition of stability, it is the uncommon urge of matter within complex
structures towards stability.

Our understanding depends on deciphering the intricacies of different


structures. If we are able to identify and define any and all parts of a given
structure, and relate how each part of this structure interacts within a given
environment, we then are able to understand, predict and evaluate the
significance of the form under study. The structure and the design of any
form, and its interaction with other structures and designs, is the only true
aim of any sound study. Cell deformation or loss of its structure is what
defines one our greatest ills, cancer. Wherever cancerous cells develop,
functionality decreases and if left unchecked, things like order, harmony
and stability cease to exist, randomness takes charge and the system
collapses unable to survive. We evolve and maintain information within the
structure of our DNA. Our legacy is truly held on these magnificent
structures and on the proteins that give rise to the exact expression of our
unique design.

There are also many ways in which structure or design is defined by


the individual elements which interact within a given system. Under these
circumstances, the absence of one or more of these elements is enough to
impede proper function or the health of a system. Any change, induced by
removal or addition of elements within such a system implies the
modification of the structure and design of such systems, thus it will
produce noticeable or minute unnoticeable changes on its function or
interactions with all external elements.

It is also structure, design and order, the hidden essence within the
greatest works of art and those things we tend to consider to be beautiful.
Our subconscious inadvertently assimilates order. It is also this same order
what we perceive and enjoy when we listen to music or when we dance and
enjoy complex choreographies. It’s the essence behind our delight as we
watch the living nature around us, birds taking flight, whales
communicating, a plant flexing towards sunshine.

It is not mere coincidence that pure meaning and plenty of


mathematical laws can be derived from pure structures or geometric
figures. The insights brought to us through millennia of analysis of such
ideal entities, have all deeply impacted human development and
technology. Apart from mathematics, both physics and chemistry, teach us
that “shape determines function”. Its all about the initial conditions and
the changes brought upon structures. It’s all about systems reaching
equilibrium and the most energy efficient arrangements. Every knowable
entity has a definable structure. The stability of structures permits us to
derive laws and predict outcomes. Our biggest accomplishments have
always relied on the comprehension of the underlying structures. On this
account, science has provided us with the powerful tool necessary to
understand our universe and step by step it leads us to a deep
understanding of our special place in it.

We must ask ourselves, how are we contributing towards the


structure of the planet we inherited, towards its immense complexity,
which urges an evaluation of our actual support towards diversity. We owe
it to ourselves and with the pride of representing complexity at its prime.
How are we contributing towards understanding and discovering unknown
designs and structures? It is through the advancement and creation of
efficient designs and structures, those that serve our psychological,
physiological and social needs, where we express our true intelligence and
the true potential of our species. In end, structure and design are the true
expressions of an ever evolutioning universe. Once again, we claim that it
is within our greatest of human virtues, the search for knowledge and
understanding, in search always of attaining the highest possible harmony
that could define our existence, our own design and structure. We find no
other greater joy and source of riches, than submerging ourselves in the
glories of the universal infinite expressions of knowledge, those revealed to
us through its wonderful designs and structures, from the macro cosmos to
the micro cosmos.