Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 383–394 | Cite as

On the Chemical Nature and Origin of Teleonomy

  • Addy ProssEmail author


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 evolution kinetic state of matter molecular replication origin of life replicative chemistry replicator space teleology teleonomy 


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© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

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

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