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Artificial Life

Spring 1998, Vol. 4, No. 2, Pages 125-140.
(doi: 10.1162/106454698568486)
© 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Four Puzzles About Life
Article PDF (83.35 KB)

To surmount the notorious difficulties of defining life, we should evaluate theories of life not by whether they provide necessary and sufficient conditions for our current preconceptions about life but by how well they explain living phenomena and how satisfactorily they resolve puzzles about life. On these grounds, the theory of life as supple adaptation gets support from the natural and compelling way it resolves the following four puzzles: (a) How are different forms of life at different levels of the vital hierarchy related? (b) Is there a continuum between life and nonlife? (c) Does life essentially concern a living entity's material composition or its form? (d) Are life and mind intrinsically connected?