Why Life?

  • Sergio Carrà
Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)


In 1816, the English writer Mary Shelley wrote the Gothic novel “Frankenstein, or A Modern Prometheus”, inspired by the Titan from Greek mythology best known as the bringer of fire to humanity. In the book, the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who produces a grotesque but sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment, is told, taking the occasion to express some reflections on the possibility and opportunity of creating an artificial life. At that time, a harsh cultural controversy was afoot, focused on the conflict between vitalists versus mechanicists. The former were arguing that living things are distinguished from matter by some animating principle, baptized the “spark of life”, while the latter compared the animals to clockwork automata in compliance with a philosophical view supported by the mechanistic physiological theories of Cartesio.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Carrà
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical EngineeringPolytechnic UniversityMilanItaly

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