what is alive?

Mario Bergami mc8366 at mclink.it
Sun Sep 22 09:27:30 EST 1996


Johnjoe McFadden <j.mcfadden at surrey.ac.uk> wrote:

>I don't like this 'degree of alive' notion and agree with Arthur Chandler's
>comments that life does appear to be a binary phenomenon - alive or dead. If
>we allowed degrees then we would expect a smooth transition between living
>and dead things - but there is not. The simplest self-replicating organisms
>are bacteria - extrodinarily complex compared to the most complex inaminate
>systems. Therealso  doesn't seem to be any transitional state between being
>alive and dead - that would surely imply that the process should be
>reversible but death is unfortunately irreversible.

I think there is no clear boundary between life and non-life.
We can certainly tell a boy from a man but we can't state precisely
when a boy becomes a man.
Suppose you could add one by one all the components of a living cell.
When will the "thing" become alive? 

Mario




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