“We create history for ourselves, and we have a fondness for participating in grand epics.”
Brian Herbert

Hunters of Dune

Christopher Alexander – The Character of Living Structure

” … the repeated appearance of the fifteen properties in natural systems is a profound result … it suggests a new view of all nature as living structure … In some sense the same morphological character occurs in mountains, rivers, ocean waves, blown sand, galaxies, thunderstorms, lightning …

… Within the terms of my definitions, then, nature as a whole – all of it – is made of living structure … all of it – inorganic as well as organic … the living character of these structures is different from the character of other conceivable structures that could arise, and it is this character which we may call the living character of nature.

… Among natural phenomena, the fifteen properties seem to appear, pervasively, in almost everything. Yet among human artifacts, the fifteen properties appear only in the good ones … What is it about nature that always makes its structures ‘good’?

… in nature all of the configurations that do occur belong to a relatively small subset of all the configuration that could possibly occur …

First, is the domain C … contains all the possible three dimensional arrangements that might exist. It is almost unimaginably large, but nevertheless (in principle) it is a finite set of possible configurations. Second is the domain L, of all configurations which have living structure as I have defined it. L, too, is very large, but smaller than C …

It may well be that all naturally occurring configurations lie in L while, on the other hand, not all man-made configurations lie in L.

For this to be true, we merely need to show that for some reason nature, when left to its own devices, generates configurations in L, but that human being are able, for some reason, to jump outside L, into the larger part of C. That is, human beings … are able to be un-natural.

In nature the principle of unfolding wholeness … creates living structure nearly all the time. Human designers, who are not constrained by this unfolding, can violate the wholeness if they wish to, and can therefore create non-living structure as often as they choose. “

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 1: The Phenomenon of Life

 

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