Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 4, No 1-2 (2008)

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What is Life? Among Other Things, It's a Synergistic Effect!

Peter Corning


There have been many different ways of characterizing and describing the phenomenon of life over the years. One aspect that has not often been stressed is lifersquo;s emergent propertiesmdash;the synergies that are produced when many elements or parts combine to produce distinctive new ldquo;wholesrdquo;. Indeed, complex living systems represent a multi-leveled, multi-faceted hierarchy of synergistic effects that has evolved over several billion years. Some of the many examples of synergy at various levels of life are briefly described, and it is emphasized that life is still creating itself and still exploring its potentialities.

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