Acta Biotheoretica 53 (1):1-28 (2005)

The cybernetic definition of a living individual proposed previously (Korzeniewski, 2001) is very abstract and therefore describes the essence of life in a very formal and general way. In the present article this definition is reformulated in order to determine clearly the relation between life in general and a living individual in particular, and it is further explained and defended. Next, the cybernetic definition of a living individual is confronted with the real world. It is demonstrated that numerous restrictions imposed on the cybernetic definition of life by physical reality imply a number of particular properties of life that characterize present life on Earth, namely: (1) a living individual must be a dissipative structure (and therefore a low-entropy thermodynamic system out of the state of equilibrium); (2) spontaneously-originated life must be based on organic compounds; (3) evolutionarily stable self-dependent, free-living individuals must have some minimal level of complexity of structure and function; (4) a living individual must have a record of identity separated from an executive machinery; (5) the identity of living individuals must mutate and may evolve; (6) living individuals may collect and accumulate information in subsequent generations over very long periods of time; (7) the degree of complexity of a living individual reflects the degree of complexity of its environment (ecological niche) and (8) living individuals are capable of supple adaptation to varying environmental conditions. Thus, the cybernetic definition of a living individual, when confronted with the real physical world, generates most of the general properties of the present life on Earth.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10441-005-7000-7
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,226
External links

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

Sociobiology: The New Synthesis.Edward O. Wilson - 1975 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):577-584.
The Major Transitions in Evolution.John Maynard Smith & Eors Szathmary - 1996 - Journal of the History of Biology 29 (1):151-152.
A Mathematical Theory of Communication.Claude E. Shannon - 1948 - Bell System Technical Journal 27:379–423.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Mind-Body Problem: Does Complexity Exist Objectively?Bernard Korzeniewski - 2015 - Open Journal of Philosophy 5 (6):351-364.
Freezing of Reality: Is Flow of Time Real?Korzeniewski Bernard - 2016 - Open Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):256-264.

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Das Sinnvolle Und Das Lebenswerte: Zur Klärung Ihrer Gemeinsamkeiten Und Unterschiede.Thaddeus Metz - 2013 - In Matthias Hoesch, Sebastian Muders & Markus Rüther (eds.), Glück-Werte-Sinn. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 109-25.
Der fortbestand Von lebewesen.Boris Hennig - 2007 - Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie 32 (1):81-91.
On the Definition of Life.Abel Schejter & Joseph Agassi - 1994 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 25 (1):97 - 106.


Added to PP index

Total views
42 ( #267,916 of 2,499,740 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,066 of 2,499,740 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes