Living systems are not entirely controllable by top down regulation. Like the human body, a living system functions through constant feedback loops, flows of information back and forth. In the body, there certainly are hierarchies but these hierarchies are “democratic hierarchies” – power distribution is circular . Regulation comes through feedback mechanisms and changes constantly over time, adjusting and readjusting to internal circumstances that have been altered and reacting and adjusting to external changes in the environment. Information from below in the hierarchy has as much influence as control mechanisms higher in the hierarchy. If you find this difficult to believe, just try focusing your own sophisticated intellectual attention on something when even your little toe is throbbing with pain.
The Blind Men and the Elephant
The Case of John