Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 3 (2017)

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Why Is There Life?

James Clay Thornton


ABSTRACT: Ongoing theoretical explorations of and experimental research on the origins of life focus predominately on the details of how life evolved. But there remains an intriguing second-order question one step removed from these focused investigations.  That is: Why is there life? Exploring the forces, mechanisms, and physical laws (and their interactions) that define the creation of animate out of inanimate matter is both theoretically interesting and useful to understanding the biological and philosophical nature of life. Defining the key factors (“effectors”) behind the creation of life opens a fertile field of possibilities that is as yet incompletely explored.

This paper’s discussion of these effectors helps to advance our understanding of what life is by elucidating the motive force behind the creation and evolution of life throughout the universe and by giving insight into life’s apparent teleonomy and other unique characteristics.  The results of these effectors, working in conjunction with the electromagnetic force, are summarized. Similarities in the evolution of animate and inanimate complex matter are explored to explain why life evolves in the universe. Characteristics considered unique to life (creation, metabolism, growth, reproduction, evolution, self and the logic of the metabolic machinery, together “teleonomy”) are explained employing an expanded definition of complexity applicable to both sides of the animate-inanimate divide.

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