Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 383–394

On the Chemical Nature and Origin of Teleonomy


DOI: 10.1007/s11084-005-2045-9

Cite this article as:
Pross, A. Orig Life Evol Biosph (2005) 35: 383. doi:10.1007/s11084-005-2045-9


The physico-chemical characterization of a teleonomic event and the nature of the physico-chemical process by which teleonomic systems could emerge from non-teleonomic systems are addressed in this paper. It is proposed that teleonomic events are those whose primary directive is discerned to be non-thermodynamic, while regular (non-teleonomic) events are those whose primary directive is the traditional thermodynamic one. For the archetypal teleonomic event, cell multiplication, the non-thermodynamic directive can be identified as being a kinetic directive. It is concluded, therefore, that the process of emergence, whereby non-teleonomic replicating chemical systems were transformed into teleonomic ones, involved a switch in the primacy of thermodynamic and kinetic directives. It is proposed that the step where that transformation took place was the one in which some pre-metabolic replicating system acquired an energy-gathering capability, thereby becoming metabolic. Such a transformation was itself kinetically directed given that metabolic replicators tend to be kinetically more stable than non-metabolic ones. The analysis builds on our previous work that considers living systems to be a kinetic state of matteras opposed to the traditional thermodynamic states that dominate the inanimate world


chemical evolutionkinetic state of mattermolecular replicationorigin of lifereplicative chemistryreplicator spaceteleologyteleonomy

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael