Life 2012, 2(1), 106-134
Is Life Unique?
David L. Abel
Department of ProtoBioCybernetics and ProtoBioSemiotics, Origin of Life Science Foundation, Inc., 113-120 Hedgewood Drive, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA
Received: 17 November 2011; in revised form: 16 December 2011 / Accepted: 19 December 2011 / Published: 30 December 2011
Is life physicochemically unique? No. Is life unique? Yes. Life manifests innumerable formalisms that cannot be generated or explained by physicodynamics alone. Life pursues thousands of biofunctional goals, not the least of which is staying alive. Neither physicodynamics, nor evolution, pursue goals. Life is largely directed by linear digital programming and by the Prescriptive Information (PI) instantiated particularly into physicodynamically indeterminate nucleotide sequencing. Epigenomic controls only compound the sophistication of these formalisms. Life employs representationalism through the use of symbol systems. Life manifests autonomy, homeostasis far from equilibrium in the harshest of environments, positive and negative feedback mechanisms, prevention and correction of its own errors, and organization of its components into Sustained Functional Systems (SFS). Chance and necessity—heat agitation and the cause-and-effect determinism of nature’s orderliness—cannot spawn formalisms such as mathematics, language, symbol systems, coding, decoding, logic, organization (not to be confused with mere self-ordering), integration of circuits, computational success, and the pursuit of functionality. All of these characteristics of life are formal, not physical.
Keywords: formalism; prescriptive information (PI); sustained functional systems (SFS); functional sequence complexity (FSC); the law of organizational and cybernetic decline (The OCD Law); the formalism > physicality (F > P) principle; choice-contingent causation and control (CCCC); the cybernetic cut; the configurable switch (CS) bridge; the organization (O) principle