Fall 2013 Syllabus: Defining Life

The reading group meets on alternate Wednesdays in the fall, 1:00-2:00pm in the 9th floor lounge of the Dreyfoos Tower (Bldg 32, Stata Center, Enter on Vassar St.).

Moderators: Lucas Mix (lucas@flirble.org), Roger White (rog@mit.edu), Alex Byrne (abyrne@mit.edu)


9/11      What do we want from a definition of life?

Luisi, PL (1998) “About Various Definitions of Life.” Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 28:613-22.

Oliver, JD and RS Perry (2006)  “Definitely Life but not Definitively.” Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 36:515-521.


9/25      Is “definition of life” a well formed question?

Cleland, Carol E., and Chyba, C. (2007). “Does ‘life’ have a definition?” in Sullivan and Baross (eds.), Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology, Ch. 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 119-131.


10/9      Entropy and Life

Schroedinger, Irwin.  What is Life? (Cambridge, Cambridge, UK: 2012) pp. 67-90.

(Rec: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/life/)

10/23    Purpose, Function, and Life

Monod, Jaques.  Chance and Necessity (Random House, New York, NY: 1971) pp. 3-44.


11/6      Algorithms and Life

Walker, Sara Imari and Paul Davies (2013) “The Algorithmic Origins of Life.”  J. Roy. Soc. Interface 6:20120869


11/20    Theology, Science, and Life

Haught, John.  Is Nature Enough (Cambridge, Cambridge, UK: 2006) pp. 55-97.


12/4      Naturalism and Life

Nagel, Thomas. Mind and Cosmos (Oxford, Oxford, UK: 2012) pp. 13-34.


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