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CHEMICAL MACHINES AND ACTION SYSTEMS 19 An example from Behavior of the Lower Organisms may shed preliminary light on the matter and will be helpful later as well. One of the lower animals Jennings studied most closely (his analyses are still classics) is a unicellular organism classed as a Protozoon, the Stentor. This organism has a very limited action system consisting of some five different reactions to external stimuli that interfere negatively with its normal state of being (for example, it changes position, contracts, or moves away from the disturbing agent).

These cause a change in the relation of the organism to the environment; to these changes the organism reacts. The whole behavior of free-moving organisms is based on the principle that it is the movements of the organism that have brought about stimulation; the regulatory character of the reaction induced is intelligible only on this basis (Jennings, 1906: 293). It is no accident that a few decades later this passage from Jennings and others of the same tenor attracted the attention of the cybernetician William Ross Ashby.

6. Men, animals and machines. Reductionism and mentalistic language It should be pointed out that for Jennings the fact that behavior was modifiable did not mean that it was completely indeterminate and thus evaded causal explanation. In the years he studied lower animals, he shared Loeb's idea of a causal and mechanistic explanation of behavior. And he continued to do so, but with an important caveat: "the causes [of behavior] lie partly within the animal; each phase ofthe movement aids in determining the succeeding phase" (Jennings, 1906: 251 ).

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Adding value to farm products : an overview by Janet Bachmann


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