Creative dynamical systems in nature,
economics, art and religion:
Transcending biological and social reductionism
The rod of Moses and the caduceus of Hermes/Mercury combine the staff
and the snake in a symbol whose meaning is ambiguous, but which mediates
between biological and cultural forms of emergent order. The double-helix
geometry of the Greek version of the symbol may be a natural diagram of
growth through feedback, so that its resemblance to the shape of the DNA
molecule is no coincidence. The mythical exchange of the caduceus
for the lyre, symbol of poetry, implies a further meaning for the caduceus:
human poetry and art in general. The wand or staff of Moses is glossed
by the story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis, where Jacob uses a similar wand
to control the reproductive genetics of his uncle's sheep. But both
the rod of Moses and the caduceus also connote profitable financial dealings,
economic production and trade; Jacob's story is in turn glossed by Jesus'
parable of the talents, and Mercury became the Roman god of business information
systems, giving his name to the market itself, to commerce, merchants,
mercantilism, and even to the mercy that is made possible by economic profit.
Is the market, then, the continuation on the cultural level of gene pool
communication and recombination on the biological level? And is human
art and poetry a further elaboration of the feedback system symbolized
by the snake-encircled tree?