Does Life Have a Meaning? Essay

3084 Words 13 Pages
Does Life Have a Meaning?

Life, it might be argued, is the distinguishing feature of all organisms and may most usefully be thought of as involving various kinds of complex systems of organization providing individual organisms with the ability to make use of those energy sources available to them for both self maintenance and reproduction. Underlying this deceptively persuasive definition, however, lie those persistent traditional problems inherent in the search for an essential, distinctive substance characteristic of all forms of life. Additionally, as evolution theory makes clear, there is the problem of borderline instances, organisms of which it is not easy to say whether or not they may be defined as being alive. One such case
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Vitalist notions that there is some feature of living organisms that prevents their natures being entirely explained in physical or chemical terms only have, as a consequence, been increasingly eclipsed.

In vitalist doctrine, this mysterious additional feature may be argued to be the presence of a further entity, such as a soul, although it may also be explained as having to do with the existence in specific organisms of sets of conditions derived from their complexity and necessitating some form of life force or animal electricity injected in some way into inanimate bodies in order for them to become alive. In his expression of vitalism, Aristotle puts forward, in both De Anima and De Generatione, the view that the life of an animal consists in its psyche , thus offering a principle of explanation which determines the morphological development of an organism in terms of teleological causation.

Although vitalism is currently perceived as having been largely overwhelmed by modern scientific thinking, there remain problems of some magnitude to which scientific solutions or explanations have yet to be found. These may be felt to support the criticism often levelled at science, that it is descriptive rather than analytical, that it
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