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Where/when/how did life begin? A philosophical key for systematizing theories on the origin of life

  • Adam Świeżyński (a1)

The question of the origin of life interested people for centuries. All existing views on this subject can be classified into different areas of human knowledge about the world: natural sciences, philosophy, and theology (religion). It is interesting to look at them closer and to classify all the typical groups of the theories about the origins of life. We can then see links existing between them and relationships that indicate their own nature. Nowadays, driving forces of prebiological chemical evolution and the mode of explanation of the transition ‘non-life into life’ give a great variety of solutions. The differences between the theories, however, as well as the current controversies in the scientific community (what ‘in the beginning’ was?; where and when the prebiotic evolution may took place? etc.) will be shown as of secondary importance for the theories’ systematization in comparison with several much more profound philosophical assumptions underlying the origin-of-life-studies. My proposal to organize and classify different types of the theories of genesis of life allows for extracting conceptions of different kind: metaphysical and scientific, and also for comparing them with each other. Some of them answer the question of the emergence of life in general and others on the question of the origin of life on the Earth only. In the perspective of contemporary scientific research on the origin of life it seems interesting that two main ideas concerning the problem of the origin of life, spontaneous generation and panspermia, are still present as presuppositions of certain theories but have been modified. Thus a ‘philosophical key’ seems to be the most appropriate to systematize all kinds of theories on the origin of life. This paper is an attempt to justify the position adopted. Most important conclusion is that the philosophical basis or implications, which are irreducibly present and possible to be found within the scientific theories of the origin of life, indicates that this problem is not just the strictly scientific one; it is the philosophical problem, too; thus it cannot be fully solved merely through referring to the empirical aspect of biogenesis.

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International Journal of Astrobiology
  • ISSN: 1473-5504
  • EISSN: 1475-3006
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology
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