A possible definition of life.

Herbert M Sauro HSauro at fssc.demon.co.uk
Sun Apr 27 11:30:16 EST 1997

>Life does what it chooses to, when it chooses to, and how it chooses to do
>Can anybody think of a living creature, (agreed upon beforehand) that
>doesn't obey this rule. 
As far as I am aware no living organism obeys this rule, even humans.
Perhaps humans in the advanced nations might follow this rule, and even
then only a minority of humans in these nations. All life is heavily
constrained by its environment, choice doesn't come into it, a living
organism cannot for example 'choose' to go against a law of nature,
choice in any case implies self-awareness?, free will?, and the majority
of life has neither of these (as far as we know). Life just does the
'natural' thing, like all physical processes, follow the laws of
physics, chem etc. It so happens that the laws in our Universe allow
self-reproducing and adaptive entities to evolve. There is nothing
intrinsically special about living systems, they are just another
faciniating (probably one of the most facinating) 'natural' features of
our Universe and I am sure that when we start looking hard we'll find
plenty of life like things 'out there'. Of course the problem remains as
to how are we spot a living entity when we come across one?

Bill House I think has posted the best definition (if not spot on) so
far which I repeat here:
'...life is not a physical compound, but an emergent phenomenon of
complex entities that allows them to replicate, transform energy to
locally reduce entropy, and to evolve new behaviors and phenotypes that
enhance their ability to replicate and transform energy.'

Herbert M Sauro
email:     HSauro at fssc.demon.co.uk
Telephone: 01974 282428
"He who cannot draw on 3000 years is living from hand to mouth" Goethe
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
R Browning.

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