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Two principles that embody necessary characteristics of self-sustaining physical systems are espoused. These principles are then used to analyze the dynamics of coding self-organization in the process of nucleic acid sequencedependent protein synthesis. An artificial system is constructed in which catalysis of codon to amino-acid assignments is embedded hierarchically in protein sequence space. An example is provided of a system that evolves through execution of a coarse-grained binary code to execution of a more refined quarternary code. General implications for the construction of ALife systems are considered.