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Max86's picture

evolution of the nervous system

I realize that this doesn't provide immediate insight into "boxes within boxes" or the "I-function," but I've been wondering lately about the evolution of the nervous system. Perhaps we can't track exactly when or how the first "nervous system" arose, but doesn't anyone else wonder why?

I was thinking about single cells, replete structures that can survive and interact with their environment alone. Clearly they do receive and process data. It may not be considered "consciousness," but receptor proteins along the cell membrane are always relaying outside information, even if this is only a rise in hormones. Is this not analagous to a "nervous system?"

Is it simply that when single cells started bundling together for increased surival rates and mutual protection, there had to evolve specialized cells - neurons - to serve as more a sophisticated means of regulating environmental/inner data with the more complicated structure? 

Perhaps I'm just devolving into petty mysticism, but where does one begin to sanctify life as complex and conscious? Cells (eukaryotes at least) have their own attendent organs (organelles, yes?) and are the foundation from which all large, "complex" organisms arise. But cells do behave, yes? They work together to form societal like structures and some will sacrifice themselves for the common good. Cancer is a cell gone haywire, a cell that no longer recognizes its surroundings due to faulty receptors and behaves inappropriately, reproducing itself and the corrupted genetic material it houses. 

What about viruses? Is anything without a true "nervous system" simply diffusing and operating under "random" gradients and pressures? Is "behavior" only a meaningful distinction when applied to large organisms with systems of interconnected neuron cells? 


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