Advertisement

Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 137–143 | Cite as

Is it Useful to Have a Clear-cut Definition of Life? On the Use of Fuzzy Logic in Prebiotic Chemistry

  • Gilles Bruylants
  • Kristin Bartik
  • Jacques Reisse
Defining Life

Abstract

Many scientists, including one of the authors of the present paper, have devoted time to try to find a definition for life (Bersini and Reisse 2007). It is clear that a consensus will never be reached but, more importantly, it seems that the issue itself could be without major interest. It is indeed impossible to define a “natural” frontier between non-living and living systems and therefore also impossible to define dichotomic criteria which could be used in order to classify systems in one of these two classes (living or non-living). Fuzzy logic provides a natural way to deal with problems where class membership lacks sharply defined criteria. It also offers the possibility to avoid losing time with unnecessary controversies such as deciding whether a virus is, or is not, a living system.

Keywords

Darwin Fuzzy logic Lamarck Origin of life Species 

Notes

Acknowledgements

G.B. thanks the Belgian Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique—FNRS for a post-doctoral fellowship.

References

  1. Bersini H, Reisse J (2007) Comment définir la vie? Vuibert, ParisGoogle Scholar
  2. Bruylants G, Locci E, Reisse J, Bartik K (2009) Liquid water: a necessary condition for all forms of life? In: Gargaud M, Lopez-Garcia P, Martin H, Montmerle Th (eds) Origin of life: an astrobiology perspective. Cambridge University Press, in pressGoogle Scholar
  3. Darwin C ([1859] 1978) The origin of species. Gramercy Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Dresden M (1987) H.A. Kramers: between tradition and revolution. Springer-Verlag, New-YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Feynman R, Leighton R, Sands M (1963) The Feynman lectures on physics. Addison-Wesley, Reading (Massachusetts), Palo Alto, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Lamarck JB ([1809] 1994) Philosophie zoologique. GF-Flammarion, Paris, What Lamarck wrote was in French: «Mais ces classifications, dont plusieurs ont été si heureusement imaginées par les naturalistes, ainsi que les divisions et sous divisions qu’elles présentent, sont des moyens tout à fait artificiels. Rien de tout cela, je le répète ne se trouve dans la nature ... »Google Scholar
  7. Luisi PL (2006) The emergence of life. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Luisi PL, Lazcano A, Varela F (1996) What is Life? defining life and the transition to life. In: Rizzotti M (ed) Defining life: the central problem in theoretical biology? Padova University Press, Padova, pp 149–165Google Scholar
  9. Rouvray DH (1997) The treatment of uncertainty in the physical sciences. In: Rouvray DH (ed) Fuzzy logic in chemistry. Academic, San Diego, pp 1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Russel B (1923) Vagueness. Australas J Philos 1:84–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Schulze-Makuch D, Irwin LN (2006) The prospect of alien life in exotic forms on other worlds. Naturwissenschaften 93:155–172CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Williamson T (1989) Being and being so. Acta Analytica 4:93–114Google Scholar
  13. Zadeh LA (1965) Fuzzy sets. Information and control 8:338–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gilles Bruylants
    • 1
  • Kristin Bartik
    • 1
  • Jacques Reisse
    • 1
  1. 1.Ingénierie Moléculaire et Biomoléculaire, Université Libre de Bruxelles, BelgiumBrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations