The soul of the universe

“When man first began to interpret the nature of things – and this he did when he began to be man – life was to him everywhere, and being the same as being alive. Animism was the widespread expression of this stage, hylozoism (2) one of its later, conceptual forms.”  Thus begins Hans Jonas’ first essay in his book entitled “The Phenomenon of life” (1).  Most of what we encounter on the surface of earth is intimately intertwined with the dynamics of life.  “modern thought which began with the Renaissance is placed in exactly the opposite theoretic situation. Death is the natural thing, life is the problem” (p.9)

Explanation of life has to be in terms of the lifeless, this is what modern biology is about. “Life’s place in this world has shrunk to that of the organism” (p.11).  In order to understand life it has to be reduced to non life. “Our thinking today is under the dominance of death” (p.12) “Panvitalism” of the past was replaced by “panmechanism.”

The science of the (dead) matter is reaching an impasse, since it lacks concepts and tools to understand our non-linear surroundings which are  intimately affected by life. Some call this deviation  from traditional science as  chaotic, which reflects their clouded vision.  Chaos was first applied to the weather since modern science fails to account how life shapes  it.    Any process which involves life, e.g., economy, stock market or the web cannot be tackled anymore  by the traditional scientific concepts. We need a new approach  whose philosophy is outlined in Jonas’ book. Back to panvitalism.  First we ought to explore our backyard called Gaia, our super organism in which we exist. Then we ought to broaden our view and “revive” the dead universe which harbors vast  amounts of  life, known as panspermia, some of which is entering our atmosphere every second.

This is the main theme of the present thread. It started with the inadequacy of the concept of randomness which is the brainchild of the “science of the dead|”
Then came short discussions of various concepts of complexity:
Life does not generate complexity from scratch
The cell is the atom of life.
Evolution has a meaning only in terms of Gaia
Phenomenology of complexity                                          
And more:


1. Hans Jonas  The Phenomenon of Life- Toward a Philosophical Biology
Northwestern University Press Evanston  Ill  2001
2 hylozoism: The philosophical doctrine holding that all matter has life, which is a property or derivative of matter. (

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