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History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 34, no. 3 (2012)
Article

Michel Morange, The Recent Evolution of the Question “What is Life?”


Abstract

The question “What is life?” is absent from the writings of present-day biologists and scientists. However, an answer to this question, even if only partial, is needed for successful completion of projects in astrobiology and synthetic biology. The reasons for this absence are metaphysical, epistemological, and historical. No one has a full answer to this question, but there are many good reasons to keep posing it. Answers are no longer sought in the existence of strengths or mechanisms specific to life. The secret of life has been unveiled and it is nothing other than physical chemistry. What remains to be understood is the way the characteristics of organisms have emerged and been combined within one unique “object.” The answer to the question “What is life?” is now looked for in the scenario that generated life.


Keywords

Autopoiesis, astrobiology, molecular biology, synthetic biology, vitalism, What is life?


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Publications :
Vol. 35, no. 4 (2013)
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Vol. 34, no. 4 (2012)
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