The intellectual mechanism used by man to acquire knowledge has led him to recognize the existence of relationships between the various manifestations encountered in nature. He has employed abstraction and integration to build up conceptual individualities which he identified as separate entities in nature. Structural characteristics and dynamic properties have appeared to be the most suitable criteria for defining these entities. However, curiosity has constantly impelled man to attempt to extend his knowledge by explaining and correlating these entities, and an important means has been analyses breaking them down into their component parts.

Out of these analyses has come recognition of the fundamental importance of organization. For, as entities have been analyzed one after the other, it has become clear that the seemingly infinite variety of them perceived by our senses is in reality the result of the arrangement of a relatively small number of basic units, the molecules. Moreover, analysis has shown that only a very small number of chemical elements make up even the most complex molecules; that combinations of less than one hundred elements, in different proportions and relationships, account for tens of thousands of compounds and many billions of entities. And further analysis has revealed that elements themselves represent different dynamic arrangements of only a few—according to some hypotheses, only two—fundamental corpuscles.

Upon close analysis, nature, which appears to be so greatly varied, turns out, in fact, to be based upon only a very few fundamental constituents and it is the manner in which these constituents are bound together, their organization into a multitude of combinations, which provides variety.

The study of organization obviously, then, could furnish the most valuable information about nature. And it would not appear to be too much to expect that, if nature's seemingly infinite variety stems from organization of only a few constituents, then organization itself might also be achieved through a few, relatively simple fundamental patterns. If so, seeking out such patterns—systematic analysis of organization comparable to the efforts to systematize constituents—could be of primary importance to better understanding of a host of problems.