of these articles is the major item about life. Articles to further word meanings of the term “life” are under life (term clarifying).

Life one calls a metaphysical Entität, which is given if the characteristic characteristics of an organismobservably are, about self adjustment, reproduction and with more complex forms also purpose pursuit. A generally binding definition of the term does not exist. Which life is, which constitutes its nature, an open question is, both in the spirit and in the natural sciences one discusses.

Table of contents


in philosophy is life the nature of the organic one.

Antique philosophy

in its writing De Anima determines Aristoteles the animated as the inspired. It differentiates between roughly threedifferent stages of lives, which it arranges after their soul abilities hierarchically:

  1. on the lowest stage alone by nutrition and reproduction determined life of the plants stands;
  2. whereupon additionally by sensory perception and progressive movement determined life of the animals follows;
  3. on the highest stage is in addition by thinking life of humans determined.

Another historical conception meant that life forms again and again again from dead one, for example in a hay water on casting. This theory was called Urzeugung. Louis Pasteur could disprove this experimentally.

Two opposite basic views

develop western philosophy of the modern times in the modern times:

  • Mechanism: Life can be explained alone from the regularities of the movement of the subject completely. (see also: Materialism and Physikalismus)
  • vitalism: Life comes only to the organic manifestations and differs qualitatively from inorganic manifestations: All alive one is characterised by a purposefully forming vitality (vis vitalis). (see also: Idealism). Long time became the view in thatBiology represent that in the Zellsaft, in the Protoplasma, this special vitality would be. Following religious conceptions it was accepted that it “animated” and “dead” subject gives. This conception is still reflected in the word choice “organic chemistry “and“inorganic chemistry “again. Today it is however well-known that each organic substance can be made of inorganic components (for the first time: Urea synthesis by Friedrich better).

The Organizismus can be regarded as synthesis of these two beginnings: Therefore life procedures leave themselvesexplain by the principles of physics and chemistry. Organisms would possess in addition, characteristics, which dead subject does not exhibit. This would be emergente characteristics, which result on the one hand from the complexity of organisms, on the other hand from the special role of their genetic programare.

After Ernst Mayr is the term „life “only procedure the made the thing „lives “and existed not as independent Entität.

Natural science

scientific definitions of lives are descriptions of characteristic characteristics, which define an organism in their whole. In addition count:Energy exchange with the environment, exchange of material with the environment, information exchange, reaction to environmental changes, growth, reproduction. Some these characteristics finds one also with technical, physical and chemical systems, other characteristics are only too own to the biological organisms. Such a definition becomes inForm of the Autopoiesis - term of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela supplied.

So far only the life which is based on nucleic acids RNA and DNA is well-known, which on the planet earth before approximately 3.5 to 3.9 billion began. All well-known ways of life - Bacteria, Archaeen, Protisten, plants, mushrooms, animals - use the same life-typical macromolecules (nucleic acids and proteins), the five nucleotides and the 20 amino acids, as well as same, universally valid genetic code. Fundamental is howevernot to exclude that life in the universe can be based also on other chemical substances (see carbon chauvinistism). For more over the beginnings of the präbiotischen life on earth see the article chemical evolution.

The oldest direct, however disputed references upLives on earth, which are interpreted as petrified Cyanobakterien, are 3.5 billion years old. The oldest clear life traces are 1.9 billion years old fossil bacteria. In the course of the billions of years developed from comparatively simple ever more complex organisms (see biological evolution).

Biology examines the characteristics and characteristics of all ways of life.

Biophysics examines certain partial aspects on the basis of physicochemical processes.

Definitions of “beginning of the life”

become for organisms the genetic program, its functionality and its development as essentialassumed, then the time results for the beginning of the life, at which molecules as carriers of the program and further auxiliary molecules meet for the first time for the realization, duplication and adjustment of this program, so that a system develops, characteristic characteristics of livescarries.

The phylogenetische perspective on the emergence of the life contains the question, when and how life on earth developed, and in which kind the first living systems in a dead environment developed (see the preceding section).

Those ontogenetische perspective on the emergence of the life contains itself the question, like organism developed (z. B. from a fertilized Eizelle). One speaks here also of the “beginning of the life”, although it itself here around a continuity of the life in the course ofGenerations acts.

From it a possibility for the definition of emergence (and end) of lives results:

Life begins then, if the characteristic characteristics of the organisms develop, lives ends then, if these characteristics disappear again, thus death occurs.

Whether a water resistantDefinition of “lives” is necessary, in order to understand the beginning of the life, is still disputed. Undoubtedly it is however that “lives” are understood different, and thus the beginning of the life in different contexts. Therefore steps to the place of a generally acceptedDefinition variety of views, which are described by world view , Ethos , religion , moral or Pragmatismus among other things.


different religions see developing in the life one from dead subject to existence form which can be differentiated, only due to supernatural interventioncan. The life (or at least the human life) is then often regarded as something special (holy). The theory that the life became to create by a God, is called creationism. The trailers of this theory raise a scientific requirement. Itis strongly common in the USA as also in different Islamic and Jewish faith communities.

The conception of many religions of the eternal life cannot be treated due to inevitable biological death scientifically. From view of the science it places if necessary a hypothesis, those on the likewise hypothetical acceptance the body of an inherent however mental Entität independently able to exist of it (soul, Atman etc.) is based. Also the entire life on earth finds to that by the constantly rising temperature and size Sun according to the today's models of the stellar evolution itself adjusting blister in at the latest to five billion years its inevitable end.

The opinion of many religions, lives or human life is holy and therefore receive worthy in principle, is not begründbar not by means of biology. Becausethere is also organisms well-known, which survive only so long, until they reproduced themselves. Here the preservation of the genetic code of a kind seems to be the principal purpose of the reproduction. The individual individual is a part of this reproduction strategy, but itbecomes less important after fulfilment of his biological function. It ages and dies.

Traces were found to speculation

over extraterrestrial life in rocks of the planet Mars, which can be interpreted as petrified bacteria. This interpretation is however disputed. A definite reference upextraterrestrial life could not be furnished despite intensive research yet. (See also Exobiologie).

„The alive “fire

always is fire also a symbol for lives. An interesting analogy between flames and organisms actually exists:

  • Fire has a kind “metabolism”:Hydrocarbon - to carbon dioxide and water is oxidized to connections, whereby energy develops in the form of warmth.
  • It “grows” and “reproduces itself”, as long as it becomes “fed”.
  • It forms a flow equilibrium between food intake and delivery of the final products with constant renewal for thatBody substance.
  • It reacted to external influences.

There the Buddhismus in its non--self teachings (on-atta) the existence a soul or a Atman answered in the negative, he avails himself with the explanation of the Wiedergeburt also the comparison with the fire, that from the deceased on thator ignore (possibly several) the re+born.

Artificial life

the question about artificial life is two-piece:

  1. the production of a well-known organism in the laboratory and
  2. the production of new ways of life, also not-organically.

1. Although one does not expect, more-cellular organisms in the near future tooproduce, it already succeeded to manufacture the Poliovirus in the laboratory. Thus it is successful to produce a biological system. It could not be done however thereby without the assistance of cells. Viruses show not all characteristics of lives, are according to different definitions thus no organisms.

2. There are conceptions that complex computer systems can show artificial intelligence and artificial life (see AI and KL).

Simulationen of life expressions


  • „back we to to the last borders forwards, at those it stillElements with the character of the Totalität or if one wants, which gives unit, then stops we with the cells. ... I cannot say differently, they are the vital elements, from those itself the fabric, the organs,the systems, which build whole individual up “ - Rudolf Virchow
  • „lives is, if a Entität of itself can manufacture a copy due to parts, all very many more simply is than it. “ - Carl Woese
  • „a network from lower negativeFeedbacks, which are subordinated to a higher positive feedback. “ - Berne pool of broadcasting corporations Korzeniewski (with it a system is described, which does not mark by any means individual embodied organisms as life, but completely generally it behaves in such a way that it maintains its identity or reproduces.)
  • „Omne vivum evivo “ („all life comes from lives “) - Louis Pasteur (organism cannot develop under at present dominant conditions on earth spontaneously from dead subject. The spontaneous life emergence on earth under the conditions of the Uratmosphäre becomesso that however not impossible.)
  • “we can have a large experience in the life at the most, and the secret of the life is to as often have this experience as possible again.” (OSCAR savage)

see also

Wikiquote: Life - quotations
Wiktionary: Life- Word origin, synonyms and translations
Wiktionary: live - word origin, synonyms and translations



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  • Sven P. Thoms: Origin of the life.Fischer, Frankfurt 2005.
  • Steven Levy: KL. Artificial life from the computer.
  • James Lovelock: Gaia. Joke publishing house, 1993. (The author represents the thesis, the earth is an organism.)
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  • A. J. Oparin: The emergence of the life on earth. (dt. Over. the 2. Aufl. from D. Soot.) people andKnowledge publishing house, Berlin Leipzig 1949.


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  • S. W. Fox: Metabolic of microspheres. Origins and evolution. Natural sciences 67, 378-383 (1980).
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