Does a Living System Have a State?

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In his by now classic contribution to biology, What is Life?, Schrödinger underlined the shortcomings of contemporary physics when questions of biological systems are at stake. He observed that “living matter, while not eluding the ‘laws of physics’ as established up to date, is likely to involve ‘other laws of physics’ hitherto unknown” (Schrödinger, 1969, p. 73). That was in 1944. The physics known at that time included all the foundations of modern linear physics, that is, quantum mechanics. Since then, important developments in understanding many-body, nonlinear and out of equilibrium systems have become established parts of the physics framework and, as a matter of fact, currently draw much of the attention of the physics community. This new framework for the study of complex phenomena seems to offer a convenient departure point for thinking about biological phenomena. However, this very approach of great sophistication leads us back to the conflict which Schrödinger already identified: What is life? may not be answered within the existing framework which was conceived of in an attempt to explain the inanimate world (Braun and Hon, 1996).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Dimensions of Logic and Science
EditorsArtur Rojszczak, Jacek Cachro, Gabriel Kurczewski
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-94-017-2612-2
StatePublished - 2003


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