Medicine: The Decisive Test of Anticipation

  • Mihai NadinEmail author


Given the life and death extremes at which medicine operates, no other human activity is of higher significance to members of society, and to society itself. Therefore, it is surprising that, instead of aligning itself with the anticipatory condition of life, medical practitioners at all levels approach health from the physics perspective of reaction and reductionism. On the other hand, anticipation—definitory of the living—could prove to be consequential if the perspective it opens would become the backbone of medicine. The study discusses the reported negative effects of healthcare and medical practice based on the mechanical model provided by physics-dominated science. Acknowledging technological progress in medicine, the study also provides actual expressions of anticipation important for the theory and practice of medicine. Complexity is examined as a characteristic of anticipatory systems. Lastly, the study suggests concrete steps towards an anticipation-grounded medical education.


Anticipation Complexity Control Fractionating Mechanics-based medicine Education 



The research reported herein took place between 2005 and 2015. Data was acquired in the AnticipationScope and in a variety of experiments using Microsoft Kinect. Among those who assisted during these years are the late Dean Burt Moore (School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, UT-Dallas), Melinda Andrews, Dr. Navzer Engineer, Dr. Balakrishnan Prabakharan, Robert Fuentes, Dr. Gaurav Pradhan. The research was supported by the University of Texas at Dallas, TZI (Bremen Germany), and Microsoft. The author is indebted to the reviewers for their suggestions.


  1. 1.
    Null, G., Dean, C., Feldman, M., Rasio, D., Smith, D.: Death by Medicine. Praktikos Books, Mount Jackson VA. (2004). Accessed 22 Mar 2016
  2. 2.
    Makary, M.A., Daniel, M.: Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US. Br. Med. J. 353, 2139 (2016).,
  3. 3.
    Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States.
  4. 4.
    Bohr, N.: Discussions with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics. Albert Einstein: Philosopher—Scientist Oxford University Press, Cambridge (1949)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Schrodinger, E.: What is Life?. Oxford University Press, Cambridge (1944)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Elsasser, W.: Reflections on the Theory of Organisms. Holism in Biology. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (1998) (Originally published in 1987 by ORBIS Publishing, Frelighsburg, Quebec)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nadin, M.: Anticipation—The End is Where We Start From. Lars Müller Verlag, Basel (2003)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Nadin, M. (ed.): Anticipation Across Disciplines. Cognitive Systems Monographs. Springer, Cham (2015)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nadin, M.: Anticipation and computation. Is anticipatory computing possible? In: Nadin, M., (ed.) Anticipation Across Disciplines. Cognitive Science Monographs, vol. 26, pp. 163–257. Springer, Cham (2015)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Venter, J.C., Gibson, D., et al.: Creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome. Science 329(5987), 52–56 (2010).
  11. 11.
    Callaway, E.: “Minimal” cell raises stakes in race to harness synthetic life. Nature 531(7596) (2016).
  12. 12.
    Nadin, M.: Anticipation and creation. In: Staicu, V. (ed.) Libertas Mathematica, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 1–16 (2015)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    von Uexküll, J.: A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With a Theory of Meaning (O’Neil, D.J. (trans.)). University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis (2010). (Originally appeared as Streifzüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und Menschen. Verlag Julius Springer, Berlin, 1934)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Brentano, C.: Jakob von Uexküll. The Discovery of the Umwelt Between Biosemiotics and Theoretical Biology. Springer, Berlin (2015)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ginn, F.: Jakob von Uexküll.: Beyond bubbles: on umwelt and biophilosophy. Sci. Cult. 23(1), 129–134 (Taylor and Francis, London) (2014). doi: 10.1080/09505431.2013.871245
  16. 16.
    Darwin, C.: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured races in the Struggle for Life. John Murrary, London (1859)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Newton, I.S.: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. S.Pepys, London (1686)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Picollo, S.: Developmental biology: mechanics in the embryo. Nature 504(7479), 223–225 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Picollo, S.: Embracing mechanical forces in cell biology. Differentiation 86(3), 75–76 (2013)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    de la Mettrie, J.O.: L’Homme Machine. Elie Luzac, Fils, Leiden (1748)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Bernstein, N.A.: On the Construction of Movements. Medgiz, Moscow (1947). (in Russian)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Popper, K.: Of Clouds and Clocks. An Approach to the Problem of Rationality and the Freedom of Man, Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford University Press, Cambridge (1972)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Newell, A., Simon, H.A.: Human Problem Solving. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs (1972)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Laplace, P.S.: A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (Truscott, F.W., Emory, F.L. (trans.)). Wiley, New York (1902)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program.
  26. 26.
    Mehrotra, A., Prochazka, A.: Making a case against the annual physical, N. Engl. J. Med. 373, 1485–1487 (2015).
  27. 27.
    Rosen, R.: Some systems theoretical problems in biology. In: Laszlo, E. (ed.) The Relevance of General Systems Theory. George Braziller, New York (1972)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Counting the Hidden Victims of Medicine. New Scientist, 2953, 25 Jan 2014.
  29. 29.
    Rosen, R.: Life Itself: A Comprehensive Inquiry Into the Nature, Origin, and Fabrication of Life (Complexity in Ecological Systems). Columbia University Press, New York (1991)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Schulkin, J.: Rethinking Homeostasis: Allostatic Regulation in Physiology and Pathophysiology. MIT Press, Cambridge (2003)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Cannon, W.B.: Physiological regulation of normal states: some tentative postulates concerning biological homeostatics. In: Petit, A. (ed.) A Charles Richet: ses amis, ses collègues, ses élèves. Les Editions Medicales, Paris (1926)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Sterling, P., Eyer, J.: Allostasis: a new paradigm to explain arousal pathology. In: Fisher, S., Reason, J.T. (eds.) Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition and Health. Wiley, Chichester, NY (1988)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Brizendine, L.: Pregnancy Brain: Myth or Reality.
  34. 34.
    Ellery, S.J., LaRosa, D.A., Kett, M.M., Della Gatta, P.A., Snow, R.J., Walker, D.W., Dickinson, H.: Creatine homeostasis is altered during gestation in the spiny mouse: is this a metabolic adaptation to pregnancy? BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. (2015). Accessed 23 Mar 2016
  35. 35.
    Nadin, M.: Anticipation and the artificial. aesthetics, ethics, and synthetic life. AI Soc. 25(1), 103–118 (Springer, London) (2010)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Bernard, C.: An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (Greene, H.C., trans.). Dover Books on Biology, New York (1957)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Crick, F.H.C.: Of Molecules and Men. University of Washington Press, Seattle (1966)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Bickle, J.: Philosophy and Neuroscience: A Ruthlessly Reductive Account (form the series Studies in Brain and Mind). Springer, Heidelberg/New York (2003)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    van Regelmorter, M.H.: Biological complexity emerges from the ashes of genetic reductionism. J. Mol. Recognit. 17(3), 145–148 (2004). doi: 10.1002/jmr.674 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Calude, C.S.: Randomness and Complexity: From Leibniz to Chaitin. World Scientific, Singapore (2007)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Poincaré, H.: Electricité. Sur le dynamique de l’electron, June 5, 1905. Note de H. Poincaré, CR.T 140, 1504–1508 (1905)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Prigogine, I.: The End of Certainty. The Free Press, New York (1997)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Rosen, R.: Fundamentals of Measurement and Representations of Natural Systems. North-Holland, New York (1978)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Louie, A.H.: Robert Rosen’s anticipatory systems. Foresight 12, 18–29 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Nadin, M.: G-Complexity, quantum computation and anticipatory processes. Comput. Commun. Collab. 2(1) 16–34 (2014). (DOIC: 2292-1036-2014-01-003-18)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Kleene, S.C.: Introduction to Metamathematics. Van Nostrand, Princeton, NJ (1950)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Gödel, K.: Über formal unenscheidbare Sätze der Principa Mathematica und verwandte Systeme, Monatshefte für Mathematik und Physik, 38, pp. 173–198. The first incompleteness theorem originally appeared as Theorem VI (1931)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rose, T.: The End of Average. HarperCollins, New York (2016)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Nadin, M.: The anticipatory profile. An attempt to describe anticipation as process, Int. J. General Syst. 41(1), 43–75 (Taylor and Francis, London) (2012)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Tranquilizers Causing Aggression. Br. Med. J. 1(5952), 266 (1975). doi: 10.1136/bmj.1.5952.266 (Published 01 February 1975)
  51. 51.
    Lovett, R.: A plea for a more fundamental method in medical treatment. Med. Surg. J., 418 (1919)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.antÉ—Institute for Research in Anticipatory SystemsUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

Personalised recommendations