chapter  15
24 Pages

◾ Elusive Definition of Life: A Survey of Main Ideas

ByRADU POPA

No denition of life ever became widely accepted. e type of education, preexisting prejudices about life, spirituality, and the intelligence of a person shape the denition he or she eventually accepts and determines which aspects of life make more sense and ought to be included in a denition. Explaining life and its origin is rich in paradoxes and far from denitive (Bedau, 1998). From a theoretical and technical standpoint, life may only exist in systems that are dynamic and very complex (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984; Kauman, 1993). us, asking that a denition for life should be at the same time brief, popular, and scientically accurate is wrong. Most dictionary-like abbreviated definitions or colloquial denitions of life are too truncated or too simplistic to be acceptable. ey may serve but a segment of the public and certainly not the specialist. An acceptable denition for life cannot be constrained for size or simplistic on purpose. It will be in the form of a description of the essence and fundamental properties of life and will be tailored to a specic purpose and target audience. It is also possible that a denition of life is not something that a person with inadequate academic training can be briefed about in a rush, that is, “Life is not something that can be told about, it may have to be taught.”