Degrees of Freedom: Living in Dynamic Boundaries

This book draws heavily on the findings of research into the cellular networks formed by fungi to explain the fundamental uncertainty that allows life forms to thrive in constantly changing circumstances. It describes how this uncertainty arises from the interplay of associative and dissociative processes at the boundary between living systems and their environment. It highlights the importance of these processes in understanding the dynamic context in which living systems, including human societies, gather, use, conserve, and recycle energy.

The book challenges the idea that living systems are made up of discrete building blocks, such as genes, that can be easily sorted by natural selection. Instead, it focuses on the dynamic boundaries that allow life forms to attune with rich and varied environments through capacities for dissipation and conservation in a fluid, non-hierarchical structure. This understanding leads to a more compassionate and less self-centered view of life’s successes and failures.


  • Defining Dynamic Boundaries
  • Scaling Hierarchies: Individuals and Collectives from Molecules to Communities
  • Determinacy and Indeterminacy
  • Differentiation and Integration
  • Versatility and Degeneracy
  • Balance and Circumstance
  • Me and You, Us and Them: Merger, Takeover and Rejection
  • Compassion in Place of Strife: The Future of Human Relationships?

Explore the fundamental indeterminacy that enables life forms to thrive and gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between associative and dissociative processes. This book offers a fresh perspective on the dynamic contexts that shape our world and the capacities for weakness and strength that allow living systems to flourish. Don’t miss out on this chance to broaden your knowledge and gain a more compassionate view of life’s triumphs and struggles. Order your copy of Degrees of Freedom today!

Read the Occurrity Blog and be inspired to explore the dynamic boundaries between living systems and their environment.

alan rayner's 1999 book degrees of freedom living in dynamic boundaries
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