- This chapter on the nature of life begins the first part of the book – on the metaphysics of life and death.
- As [Bedau] notes, many theorists attempt to illuminate life by setting out necessary and sufficient conditions for being an organism. Bedau calls this the Cartesian approach, and suggests that we abandon it in favor of the Aristotelian approach, by which we attempt to explain distinctive features of "living worlds," or actual complexes of mutually interacting organisms and micro-organisms.
- To that end, we can begin with the simplest forms of chemically based life (such as bacteria). On the model Bedau endorses, a minimal chemical system is alive just if it brings together three mutually supportive capacities.
- First, it controls itself using information stored within it.
- Second, it maintains, develops, and repairs itself using materials and energy it extracts from its environment.
- Third, it protects its constituent chemical operations from external threats by "localizing" them, giving them an identity over time.
- Bedau goes on to suggest that "there is no particular time at which life begins or ends. As new chemical interactions among components create more complex networks of capacities, the whole chemical system becomes more and more alive."
Footnote 1: Taken from "Luper (Steven) - The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death: Introduction".
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