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What is Life? [Book Review]

Journal of Philosophy 43 (7):194 (1946)

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  1. A Theory of Biochemical Organization, Metabolic Pathways, and Evolution.Harold J. Morowitz - 1999 - Complexity 4 (6):39-53.
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  • The Astounding Assumption of Infinite Life.Lantz Fleming Miller - 2019 - Metaphilosophy 50 (3):377-394.
    The multi-millennial philosophical discussion about life after death has received a recent boost in the prospect of immortality attained via technologies. In this newer version, humans generally are considered mortal but may develop means of making themselves immortal. If “immortal” means not mortal, thus existing for infinity, and if the proposed infinite-existing entity is material, it must inhabit an infinite material universe. If the proposed entity is not material, there must be means by which it can shed its material substance (...)
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  • The Thermodynamic and Phylogenetic Foundations of Human Wickedness.P. R. Masani - 1985 - Zygon 20 (3):283-320.
  • Can Synthetic Biology Shed Light on the Origin of Life?Christophe Malaterre - 2009 - Biological Theory 4 (4):357-367.
    It is a most commonly accepted hypothesis that life originated from inanimate matter, somehow being a synthetic product of organic aggregates, and as such, a result of some sort of prebiotic synthetic biology. In the past decades, the newly formed scientific discipline of synthetic biology has set ambitious goals by pursuing the complete design and production of genetic circuits, entire genomes or even whole organisms. In this paper, I argue that synthetic biology might also shed some novel and interesting perspectives (...)
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  • Agency, Qualia and Life: Connecting Mind and Body Biologically.David Longinotti - 2017 - In Vincent C. Müller (ed.), Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2017. Cham: Springer. pp. 43-56.
    Many believe that a suitably programmed computer could act for its own goals and experience feelings. I challenge this view and argue that agency, mental causation and qualia are all founded in the unique, homeostatic nature of living matter. The theory was formulated for coherence with the concept of an agent, neuroscientific data and laws of physics. By this method, I infer that a successful action is homeostatic for its agent and can be caused by a feeling - which does (...)
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  • Sensible Atoms: A Techno-Aesthetic Approach to Representation. [REVIEW]Sacha Loeve - 2011 - NanoEthics 5 (2):203-222.
    This essay argues that nano-images would be best understood with an aesthetical approach rather than with an epistemological critique. For this aim, I propose a ‘techno-aesthetical’ approach: an enquiry into the way instruments and machines transform the logic of the sensible itself and not just the way by which it represents something else. Unlike critical epistemology, which remains self-evidently grounded on a representationalist philosophy, the approach developed here presents the advantage of providing a clear-cut distinction between image-as-representation and other modes (...)
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  • Les brisures de symetrie du tempsThe symmetry breakings of time.Alexandre Laforgue - 1993 - Acta Biotheoretica 42 (1):63-75.
    Atoms theory and symmetry theory dominated physics. Symmetry propagation and interactions verify the Curie principle. But its violation by symmetry breaking is spontaneous.Fragility is creative. An information breaks a generalized symmetry. Results on symmetry breakings are not valid for fuzzy symmetries. The breaking of a fuzzy symmetry leads only to a pour symmetry. Homogeneity breaking, and atom of time are not usual concepts. We examine in this work symmetry breakings which generate the living time.
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  • Human Consciousness: Where Is It From and What Is It For.Boris Kotchoubey - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
  • Formal Similarities Between Cybernetic Definition of Life and Cybernetic Model of Self-Consciousness: Universal Definition/Model of Individual.Bernard Korzeniewski - 2013 - Open Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):314-328.
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  • Evolution Unbound: Releasing the Arrow of Complexity.Kevin B. Korb & Alan Dorin - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):317-338.
    The common opinion has been that evolution results in the continuing development of more complex forms of life, generally understood as more complex organisms. The arguments supporting that opinion have recently come under scrutiny and been found wanting. Nevertheless, the appearance of increasing complexity remains. So, is there some sense in which evolution does grow complexity? Artificial life simulations have consistently failed to reproduce even the appearance of increasing complexity, which poses a challenge. Simulations, as much as scientific theories, are (...)
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  • Varieties of Noise: Analogical Reasoning in Synthetic Biology.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 48:76-88.
    The picture of synthetic biology as a kind of engineering science has largely created the public understanding of this novel field, covering both its promises and risks. In this paper, we will argue that the actual situation is more nuanced and complex. Synthetic biology is a highly interdisciplinary field of research located at the interface of physics, chemistry, biology, and computational science. All of these fields provide concepts, metaphors, mathematical tools, and models, which are typically utilized by synthetic biologists by (...)
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  • Prion-Like Phenomena Mediating Between Modes of Individuation.Vefa Karatay & Yagmur Denizhan - 2018 - Biosemiotics 11 (1):85-103.
    Prions, prion-related diseases and prion-like phenomena are not only the subjects of rapidly growing scientific research interests, but also appear to be interesting from a philosophical perspective. In this study, we first present a brief review of the current prion research that includes a conceptual expansion of the notion of “prion” as a pathogenic conformation of a specific mammalian protein, towards more general “prion-like phenomena”, that can sometimes assume important beneficial functions in a broad range of biological contexts. Next, we (...)
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  • On the Definition of Life.L. I. Jianhui - 2019 - Philosophy Study 9 (9).
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  • Causes and Consequences of Eukaryotization Through Mutualistic Endosymbiosis and Compartmentalization.R. Hengeveld & M. A. Fedonkin - 2004 - Acta Biotheoretica 52 (2):105-154.
    This paper reviews and extends ideas of eukaryotization by endosymbiosis. These ideas are put within an historical context of processes that may have led up to eukaryotization and those that seem to have resulted from this process. Our starting point for considering the emergence and development of life as an organized system of chemical reactions should in the first place be in accordance with thermodynamic principles and hence should, as far as possible, be derived from these principles. One trend to (...)
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  • Teilhard's Vision of the World and Modern Cosmology.Michael Heller - 1995 - Zygon 30 (1):11-23.
  • William Astbury and the Biological Significance of Nucleic Acids, 1938–1951.Kersten Hall - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):119-128.
    Famously, James Watson credited the discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA in 1953 to an X-ray diffraction photograph taken by Rosalind Franklin. Historians of molecular biology have long puzzled over a remarkably similar photograph taken two years earlier by the physicist and pioneer of protein structure William T. Astbury. They have suggested that Astbury’s failure to capitalize on the photograph to solve DNA’s structure was due either to his being too much of a physicist, with too little interest in (...)
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  • Measurement of Collective and Social Fields of Consciousness.Attila Grandpierre - 2001 - World Futures 57 (1):85-94.
    It is possible to reveal and to examine the collective and social fields of consciousness experimentally. An account is given of planned experiments based on quantitative calculations, which indicate that the effects of individual and collective fields of consciousness on matter may elicit directly observable physical results. Moreover, it is shown that collective coherent consciousness fields may enhance the physical effects of consciousness at a significant rate. The predicted results have a significance in our picture of our consciousness, in self-assertion (...)
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  • A Deep Unity Between Scientific Disciplines.Cédric Gaucherel - 2013 - Open Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):413-421.
  • From Buzz to Burst—Critical Remarks on the Term ‘Life’ and Its Ethical Implications in Synthetic Biology.Michael Funk, Johannes Steizinger, Daniel Falkner & Tobias Eichinger - 2019 - NanoEthics 13 (3):173-198.
    In this paper, we examine the use of the term ‘life’ in the debates within and about synthetic biology. We review different positions within these debates, focusing on the historical background, the constructive epistemology of laboratory research and the pros and cons of metaphorical speech. We argue that ‘life’ is used as buzzword, as folk concept, and as theoretical concept in inhomogeneous ways. Extending beyond the review of the significant literature, we also argue that ‘life’ can be understood as aBurstwordin (...)
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  • Deviant Interdisciplinarity as Philosophical Practice: Prolegomena to Deep Intellectual History.Steve Fuller - 2013 - Synthese 190 (11):1899-1916.
    Philosophy may relate to interdisciplinarity in two distinct ways On the one hand, philosophy may play an auxiliary role in the process of interdisciplinarity, typically through conceptual analysis, in the understanding that the disciplines themselves are the main epistemic players. This version of the relationship I characterise as ‘normal’ because it captures the more common pattern of the relationship, which in turn reflects an acceptance of the division of organized inquiry into disciplines. On the other hand, philosophy may be itself (...)
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  • Am I Self-Conscious?Karl Friston - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
  • Developments in Contemporary Biology.Francois Gros & R. Scott Walker - 1988 - Diogenes 36 (142):1-23.
  • Living is Information Processing: From Molecules to Global Systems.Keith D. Farnsworth, John Nelson & Carlos Gershenson - 2013 - Acta Biotheoretica 61 (2):203-222.
    We extend the concept that life is an informational phenomenon, at every level of organisation, from molecules to the global ecological system. According to this thesis: living is information processing, in which memory is maintained by both molecular states and ecological states as well as the more obvious nucleic acid coding; this information processing has one overall function—to perpetuate itself; and the processing method is filtration of, and synthesis of, information at lower levels to appear at higher levels in complex (...)
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  • Complexity, Natural Selection and the Evolution of Life and Humans.Börje Ekstig - 2015 - Foundations of Science 20 (2):175-187.
    In this paper, I discuss the concept of complexity. I show that the principle of natural selection as acting on complexity gives a solution to the problem of reconciling the seemingly contradictory notion of generally increasing complexity and the observation that most species don’t follow such a trend. I suggest the process of evolution to be illustrated by means of a schematic diagram of complexity versus time, interpreted as a form of the Tree of Life. The suggested model implies that (...)
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  • Why People Are Atypical Agents.Don Ross - 2002 - Philosophical Papers 31 (1):87-116.
    Abstract In this paper, I argue that the traditional philosophical approach of taking cognitively and emotionally competent adult people to be the prototypical instances of agency should be revised in light of current work in the behavioral sciences. Logical consistency in application is better served by taking simple goal-directed and feedback-governed systems such as insects as the prototypes of the concept of agency, with people being agents ?by extension? in the same sense as countries or corporations.
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  • When Physics Meets Biology: A Less Known Feynman.Marco Di Mauro, Salvatore Esposito & Adele Naddeo - 2018 - Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science 4:163.
    We discuss a less known aspect of Feynman’s multifaceted scientific work, centered about his interest in molecular biology, which came out around 1959 and lasted for several years. After a quick historical reconstruction about the birth of molecular biology, we focus on Feynman’s work on genetics with Robert S. Edgar in the laboratory of Max Delbruck, which was later quoted by Francis Crick and others in relevant papers, as well as in Feynman’s lectures given at the Hughes Aircraft Company on (...)
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  • Biología sintética: la ingeniería al asalto de la complejidad biológica.Víctor De Lorenzo - 2014 - Arbor 190 (768):a149.
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  • Emergent Biological Principles and the Computational Properties of the Universe: Explaining It or Explaining It Away.P. C. W. Davies - 2004 - Complexity 10 (2):11-15.
  • La Possession du Degré D’Autonomie Chez les Vivants.Philippe Dalleur - 2015 - Scientia et Fides 3 (1):115-138.
    The possession of degree of autonomy in living beings: In the numerous attempts to define the concept of life, the use of prefixes like “self”, “auto” appears recurrently. This shows the fundamental importance attached to autonomy among the living beings. The author first analyzes the various types and degrees of autonomy, beginning from some contemporary thinkers, like Jonas, Morin, Varela, Davies, Wandschneider; and afterwards, the various types of systemic autonomy are compared with the four systemic levels of contemporary biological theories. (...)
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  • Brain Activity and Cognition: A Connection From Thermodynamics and Information Theory.Guillem Collell & Jordi Fauquet - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
    The connection between brain and mind is an important scientific and philosophical question that we are still far from completely understanding. A crucial point to our work is noticing that thermodynamics provides a convenient framework to model brain activity, whereas cognition can be modeled in information-theoretical terms. In fact, several models have been proposed so far from both approaches. A second critical remark is the existence of deep theoretical connections between thermodynamics and information theory. In fact, some well-known authors claim (...)
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  • Is T Hinker a Natural Kind?Paul M. Churchland - 1982 - Dialogue 21 (2):223-38.
    Functionalism in the philosophy of mind is here criticized from the perspective of a more naturalistic and less compromising form of materialism. Parallels are explored between the problem of cognitive activity and the somewhat more settled problem of vital activity. The lessons drawn suggest that functionalism in the philosophy of mind may be both counterproductive as a research strategy, and false as a substantive position.
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  • Methodological Suggestions From a Comparative Psychology of Knowledge Processes.Donald T. Campbell - 1959 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 2 (1-4):152 – 182.
    Introductory Abstract Philosophers of science, in the course of making a sharp distinction between the tasks of the philosopher and those of the scientist, have pointed to the possibility of an empirical science of induction. A comparative psychology of knowledge processes is offered as one aspect of this potential enterprise. From fragments of such a psychology, methodological suggestions are drawn relevant to several chronic problems in the social sciences, including the publication of negative results from novel explorations, the operational diagnosis (...)
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  • About the Goal‐Structure of Human Life. Theoretical Considerations.Charlotte Buhler - 1957 - Dialectica 11 (1‐2):187-205.
    The article will bring some theoretical considerations to be applied to a study of the goal‐structure of human life.One of the theoretical questions in which this study is interested concerns the origin of the different goals and goal‐changes during life. One of the central questions is how goal‐setting and goal‐changes are brought about, what factors are responsible, what mechanisms come into play.The material of the planned research study will be selected individual and interview cases whose goal‐development and goal‐changes will be (...)
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  • Biocomplexity: A Pluralist Research Strategy is Necessary for a Mechanistic Explanation of the "Live" State.F. J. Bruggeman, H. V. Westerhoff & F. C. Boogerd - 2002 - Philosophical Psychology 15 (4):411 – 440.
    The biological sciences study (bio)complex living systems. Research directed at the mechanistic explanation of the "live" state truly requires a pluralist research program, i.e. BioComplexity research. The program should apply multiple intra-level and inter-level theories and methodologies. We substantiate this thesis with analysis of BioComplexity: metabolic and modular control analysis of metabolic pathways, emergence of oscillations, and the analysis of the functioning of glycolysis.
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  • The Tacit Epistemology of the Gmo Debate: A Case Study. [REVIEW]Giacomo Borbone - 2009 - Axiomathes 19 (4):373-387.
    The issue of biotechnology has been chosen in the MIRRORS project in order to analyze the sometimes uneasy relationship between science and society. After analyzing the situation of biotechnology regarding the GMO debate in Spain, France and Italy during a previous MIRRORS Workshop (This MIRRORS Workshop is entitled European Policies and Knowledge Society, held in Catania on December 15th 2008, during the which the undersigned, Anna Benedetta Francese and Cinzia Rizza discussed three papers about this topic [see the MIRRORS website (...)
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  • A Defining Analysis of the Life and Death Dyad: Paving the Way for an Ethical Debate.G. Boniolo & P. Paolo Di Fiore - 2008 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33 (6):609-634.
    We discuss the meaning of “being alive” and “being dead.” Our primary aim is to pave the way for a sound and accurate ethical debate concerning these two concepts. In particular, we analyze a metabolic approach and a genetic one and discuss the reasons for their failure to constitute a good starting point for successive debates. We argue that any ethical or social discussion of topics involving life and death must introduce cultural constructs such as, on the one hand, the (...)
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  • Transformative Aspects of the Angelic Imaginary.Martha Blassnigg - 2006 - Technoetic Arts 4 (1):15-25.
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  • Energy: Learning From the Past.Fabio Bevilacqua - 2014 - Science & Education 23 (6):1231-1243.
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  • Magic of Language.Korzeniewski Bernard - 2013 - Open Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):455.
    Language, through the discrete nature of linguistic names and strictly determined grammatical rules, creates absolute, “quantized”, sharply separated “facts” within the external world that is continuous, “fuzzy” and relational in its essence. Therefore, it is similar, in some important sense, to magic, which attributes causal and creative power to magical words and formulas. On the one hand, language increases greatly the effectiveness of the processes of thinking and interpersonal communication, yet, on the other hand, it determines and distorts to a (...)
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  • Figure, Ground and the Notion of Equilibria in the Work of Gilbert Simondon and Gestalt Theory.Jacqueline Bellon - 2019 - Gestalt Theory 41 (3):293-317.
    Summary Based on Clausius’ phrasing of a “transformational content” and the resulting 2nd law of thermodynamics, I demonstrated that Gilbert Simondon’s On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects is historically situated at the threshold of understanding open systems thermodynamics and the related concepts of balance. Furthermore, I showed that Gestalt theory, as represented by Wolfgang Köhler, at least reproduced, if not partially anticipated or even prepared this development of 20th century thinking. Finally, I gave some short examples of how (...)
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  • On Time, Information and Life.O. Costa Beauregard - 1968 - Dialectica 22 (3-4):187-205.
  • Schrödinger: A Philosopher in Planck's Chair. [REVIEW]Ludvik Bass - 1992 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (1):111-127.
  • The Paradigms of Biology.Marcello Barbieri - 2013 - Biosemiotics 6 (1):33-59.
    Today there are two major theoretical frameworks in biology. One is the ‘chemical paradigm’, the idea that life is an extremely complex form of chemistry. The other is the ‘information paradigm’, the view that life is not just ‘chemistry’ but ‘chemistry-plus-information’. This implies the existence of a fundamental difference between information and chemistry, a conclusion that is strongly supported by the fact that information and information-based-processes like heredity and natural selection simply do not exist in the world of chemistry. Against (...)
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  • A Short History of Biosemiotics.Marcello Barbieri - 2009 - Biosemiotics 2 (2):221-245.
    Biosemiotics is the synthesis of biology and semiotics, and its main purpose is to show that semiosis is a fundamental component of life, i.e., that signs and meaning exist in all living systems. This idea started circulating in the 1960s and was proposed independently from enquires taking place at both ends of the Scala Naturae. At the molecular end it was expressed by Howard Pattee’s analysis of the genetic code, whereas at the human end it took the form of Thomas (...)
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  • The Computer Revolution in Philosophy.Martin Atkinson & Aaron Sloman - 1980 - Philosophical Quarterly 30 (119):178.
  • The Affective Core of the Self: A Neuro-Archetypical Perspective on the Foundations of Human (and Animal) Subjectivity.Antonio Alcaro, Stefano Carta & Jaak Panksepp - 2017 - Frontiers in Psychology 8.
  • Quantum Theory and Human Perception of the Macro-World.Diederik Aerts - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
  • The Reductionist Blind Spot.Russ Abbott - 2008 - Complexity 14 (5):10-22.
    Can there be higher level laws of nature even though everything is reducible to the fundamental laws of physics? The computer science notion of level of abstraction explains how there can be.
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  • Complex Systems Engineering: Putting Complex Systems to Work.Russ Abbott - 2007 - Complexity 13 (2):10-11.
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  • The Operator Hierarchy : A Chain of Closures Linking Matter, Life and Artificial Intelligence.G. A. J. M. Jagers op Akkerhuis - unknown
    Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 06 september 2010.
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