Conclusion

Openness of systems to exchange of energy and matter implies certain foundational properties in natural organization:

• It is a necessary but not sufficient property for ecosystems.

• It presumes boundaries.

• Boundaries imply bounded entities—something kept in.

• Entities imply an elemental discreteness in natural organization; see Table 2.3.

• Therefore, human sensory apparatus operates correctly in perceiving an essentially particulate world.

• Boundaries imply environments—something kept out.

• Environments are unbounded, thus inherently non-discrete.

• Therefore, human perception is mismatched to environmental reality.

This may be why we know more about disconnected objects than we do about object-environment relationships, and why science is more reductive than holistic. It appears that the property of openness, the subject of this chapter, returns us to the same kind of enigma as the wave-particle duality, giving ecology a deep challenge for its future to unravel.

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