In the last 4 posts of this study I’ve built up an argument showing the need for a definition of biological aging that consolidates existing consensus knowledge in the field but also flexible enough to incorporate new knowledge within that current paradigm.
This is still not the final formulation, but this is what I have right now:
‘Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, separate, diverse, interconnected, but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all (organisational, spatiotemporal) levels.’
What are some open problems left with this definition?
‘Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, separate, diverse, interconnected, but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all levels.’
Today we connect the second, explicative and third, recursive parts by going back to the 4 criteria Carnap lists for a – good, or at least functional – scientific explicatum to meet:
i., similarity to the explicandum,
ii., exactness to introduce the explicatum ‘into a well-connected system of scientific concepts’,
iii., fruitfulness to be useful in formulating empirical laws or logical theorems, I take this feature roughly the same as scientific ‘utility’, ‘applicability’ or ‘productivity’,
iv., simplicity as simple as possible and allowed by the above 3 criteria.
The focus of our investigation here has always been on biological aging. In our recursive definition attempt the main suggestion is that out of the irreducible plurality of diverse but interconnected biological aging processes operating on the molecular, cellular and other sub-organismal levels, organismal, individual level biological aging can be understood and interventions can be designed against it.
But we need a step back here and acknowledge a more fundamental irreducible plurality of the aging concept, a sort of global version of the local plurality of biological aging , namely that the default aging concept has been used in several different meanings already. This global plurality comes first as aging usually presents itself in different variants depending on the domain we are talking about it.
We can talk about aging of living things but we can also talk about aging of non-living objects, natural (planets, rivers) or human-made (cars, houses, pipes).
Within living, biological organisms we usually talk about species level specific aging, out of which human aging is our default version, not surprisingly.
Within human or human-related aging we have many versions, some of them I captured in the figure below, and biological aging, the one with medical consequences is only one of them.
At the core of all aging concepts is chronological aging, the passage of time, that can be registered, measured. Since our mode of existence is temporal (spatiotemporal) everything we do, experience and observe has a temporal aspect, an aspect that gives rise to all of our possible aging concepts.