David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
To their dismay, children look like their parents. They are not perfect copies, and over many generations some features evaporate; but even over fifty generations features relevant to an anthropologist persist. Children perhaps can find some comfort in the fact that we are not alone: organisms in general maintain remarkably stable structures through time. In What is Life? Erwin Schrödinger famously predicted the existence of the gene, but he also asked how life manages such stability in the face of thermodynamics’ prescription that systems spontaneously move to increase their entropy. How does life escape the randomizing effects of the Second Law? Schrödinger of course recognized that there is no genuine conflict between life and thermodynamics. The Second Law applies only to closed, i.e., approximately energetically isolated, systems, yet living organisms are open systems. Although living creatures are not plugged into electrical sockets like your refrigerator, Schrödinger noted that organisms are dependent on the high quality energy of their environment. They maintain their structures at the expense of increased contributions of entropy (waste) to their environment. Life arises in the balance between the low entropy found in the environment and the entropy the organism itself throws off. Writing in the 1940’s, Schrödinger could see the general form of the answer to his question, but he lacked the resources to explain why these stable structures arose in the first place.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Steven P. R. Rose (2003). Lifelines: Life Beyond the Gene. Oxford University Press.
Bernard Korzeniewski (2005). Confrontation of the Cybernetic Definition of a Living Individual with the Real World. Acta Biotheoretica 53 (1).
Georg Schulze & Shuji Mori (1993). Increases in Environmental Entropy Demand Evolution. Acta Biotheoretica 41 (3).
Abel Schejter & Joseph Agassi (1994). On the Definition of Life. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 25 (1):97 - 106.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads38 ( #50,091 of 1,140,133 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #88,260 of 1,140,133 )
How can I increase my downloads?