Does a Living System Have a State?

  • Giora Hon
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 320)


In his by now classic contribution to biology, What is Life?, Schrödinger underlined the shortcomings of contemporary physics when questions of biological systems are at stake. He observed that “living matter, while not eluding the ‘laws of physics’ as established up to date, is likely to involve ‘other laws of physics’ hitherto unknown” (Schrödinger, 1969, p. 73). That was in 1944. The physics known at that time included all the foundations of modern linear physics, that is, quantum mechanics. Since then, important developments in understanding many-body, nonlinear and out of equilibrium systems have become established parts of the physics framework and, as a matter of fact, currently draw much of the attention of the physics community. This new framework for the study of complex phenomena seems to offer a convenient departure point for thinking about biological phenomena. However, this very approach of great sophistication leads us back to the conflict which Schrödinger already identified: What is life? may not be answered within the existing framework which was conceived of in an attempt to explain the inanimate world (Braun and Hon, 1996).


Living System Static Observable Contemporary Physic Evaluative Judgment Living Matter 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giora Hon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HaifaIsrael

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