A Living Systems Paradigm for Big History The idea of a “living universe” is not a new perspective. More than two thousand years ago, Plato described the universe as a single living creature that encompasses all living creatures within it. To begin, it is helpful to contrast the assumptions of a non-living universe with those based on a living systems perspective. The prevailing paradigm of Big History assumes that for something to be considered “living,” the system must include four key capacities: • Metabolism: the ability to break matter down as well as to synthesize it • Self-regulation: the ability to maintain stability in its operation • Reproduction: the ability to create copies of itself • Adaptation: the ability to evolve and fit into changing environments These four capacities can be found, not only in plants and animals but also in the functioning of the universe: