A possible definition of life.

Mark Siddall msiddall at umich.edu
Wed Apr 30 16:02:21 EST 1997

This argument is going in circles for a variety of reasons.  No one is
defining the level at which they are arguing the issue.

There is a metaphysical question: "What is life?", and there is a
biological (scientific) question: "What is life?" and they are not the

The answer to the biological scientific question is easy "Descended from
the common ancestor of all things alive."  Period.  In this sense,
though perhaps not "alive", a mere wisp of a DNA strand taken out of an
organisms is still "life" even though it cannot replicate itself on its

The metaphysical answer to the metaphysical question is less
straightforward.  I will leave it to metaphysicians.  I am a scientist.


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