Towards a Philosophical Biorheology

10Jan09

Biorheology, according to the International Society of Biorheology attempts to:

“determine and characterize the dynamics of physiological processes at all scales of organization, from organ, tissue and cell down to the molecular level. In all these areas, the interrelationships of rheological properties with structural and functional aspects of the biological materials studied are stressed. At the molecular scale, this approach aims to determine how changes in chemical, physical and conformational properties are reflected in the manner in which deformational forces affect the properties of the molecular structures and their environment, taking into account proper time scales and what structures or strength of structures are required.”

Rheology, in a more general sense, studies the flow of matter taking particular notice of elasticity, viscosity and plasticity.  Central to the classification of materials (as liquid, solid, viscous or elastic) is the dimension of temporality such as the creep experiment where the being of the material is determined by its deformations over time in relation to the force acted upon it.  While much of biorheology (which focuses on biological fluids and soft matters) is concerned with blood, studies also follow the behavior of mucus, acids and brain matter.

It may be philosophically blasphemous to speak of flows outside of, or against, Deleuze.  The very term rheology comes from Simplicius’ description of Heraclitus’ philosophy – panta rhei – everything flows.  Of course, here the flowness of things is not ontological but ontic and an ontic dimension which is only ever a response to external stimuli and to measurement.  The measurement of rheology is simply the degree of change over time via the relation of how initially viscous or plastic the object to how much it as flowed over a function of time.  This dimensionless number is a pure number, a ration which does not correspond to actual measurable units

The flowing object is, no surprise to quantum physics in that, as Karen Barad points out in Meeting the Universe Halfway, outlines are merely an invention of human perception.  Graham Harman’s metaphysics of objects might agree, at least partially, in that relations themselves are objects nestled in other objects – there is no boundary and, at the same time, there is no interaction as it appears to human cognition but only objects and their satellite objects – their notes.

A slime metaphysics, a philosophical hijacking of rheology, would seem a messier  form of being – the world would become one where, if seen through hyper sensitive eyes, every object would seem to warp with every function of force – all objects would appear to be snowing the particles of their composition til the world over settled and was only a pile of slime.

Further explorations will lie in Freud’s vesicle, Lacan’s amoebic lamella, the putresence of Lovecraft’s humanity and so forth.

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