After conservative substance enters a system through its boundary it is transacted— conservatively transferred—between the living and non-living compartments within the system, being variously transformed and reconfigured by work along the way. The substance that enters as input to a particular compartment always while in the system remains within the output environ of that, and only that, compartment. Thus, environs as partition units within systems (Patten, 1978) defined by different inputs, become entangled within and between the tangible components of the system (this is network enfolding, another of the properties, discussed later). In accordance with second-law requirements, a part (and eventually all) of this substance is continually dissipated back to the environment by the entropy-generating processes that do work and make the system function. At any point in time subsequent to initial introduction, remaining substance continues to be transported around the system, and as it does so it traces out implicit pathways that extend in length by one unit at each transfer step. Pathway numbers increase exponentially with this increasing pathway length, with the result that the interior of the system becomes a complex interconnected network in which all components communicate, indirectly if not directly, with all or virtually all (depending on the connectivity structure) the others. This pathway proliferation is thus one of the sources of an essential holism, which environ theory impresses onto the interiors of systems. And without the openness of semipermeable boundaries, pathways would neither begin nor end, and the interior networks initiating output environs and terminating input environs at boundary points of entry and exodus would never exist.
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