Home Forums Deep Time Journey Forum Is the universe a "living system"? Reply To: Is the universe a "living system"?

Ed Lantz

Mike, I think that Swimme and Berry’s Cosmogenesis concept holds promise for intellectual common ground as you suggest. The term is not as pithy and self-explanatory as the expression “living universe,” however.


Duane, the term “trans-biological life” is intriguing and self-explanatory. However you still may run into philosophical issues since you continue to equate biological attributes to the universe (similar to the Gaia Hypothesis), albeit there is the differentiation from biological life and cosmogenetic life. 


In seeking terms for classifying the “living universe” concept while differentiating it from biological life (and not over-ascribing biological life-like attributes to the universe), I explored the field of scientific cosmology for similar concepts. “Living universe” itself would be considered a cosmological concept. While I did not find a good fit, this is good reading nonetheless: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmology-theology/


It also occurred to me that, rather than attempting to nail down a particular flavor or concept of “living universe” (because I am sure there are many concepts and lots of room for debate), that it might be better to leave it open as a conversation and think of this as a general field of study – that is, the scientific cosmological study of the life-like nature of the universe.


So with this in mind, here is one term I came up with:


cosmovitology – a branch of scientific cosmology that studies macroscopic life-like properties of the universe, including concepts such as Swimme and Berry’s Cosmogenetic Principle that the universe can be characterized by properties of differentiation, autopoiesis, and communion and Elgin’s concept of a Living Universe.


Yea, it’s also not very pithy…  I tried… Perhaps our pedagogists can help out here?


Finally, in my research into philosophical schools of thought regarding life and the universe (and everything), I ran across this philosophical overview of the debate regarding the definition of life that may interest some of you: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/life/. It left me wondering how the  “living universe” concept differs from “vitalists.” Are we saying that there is “something more” to the universe – some vital factor – that makes it special, or that the observable universe is already special without having to invoke properties beyond known mechanical laws?


Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!!