• Martin Mahner
  • Mario Bunge


Life has long been a mystery on which mysterymongers have thrived. Indeed, as long as the question ‘What is life?’ was dealt with only outside science, i.e., in traditional metaphysics, a plausible answer to it was hardly to be expected. Yet, even when approached scientifically, a satisfactory answer was not to be expected as long as living beings were studied either on their own level (holistic approach) or as physical systems devoid of emergent properties (reductionism), and in either case apart from their history. Only modern biology, as a multilevel discipline between evolutionary and molecular biology, has transformed the mystery of life into the problem of life: its origin and maintenance, its evolution and extinction. The question ‘What is life?’ has become a philosophico-scientific problem.


Biological Role Living System Proper Function Emergent Property Proper Part 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Mahner
    • 1
  • Mario Bunge
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyFree University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Foundations & Philosophy of Science UnitMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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