From Publishers Weekly
In this seamless translation, author and French biology professor Morange (The Misunderstood Gene) addresses the question "What is life?" by looking at answers from Aristotle to the atomic age and "bringing out the various points of agreement and contradiction hidden among them." After addressing definitions of life proposed by others, Morange outlines "three essential characteristics" of life: reproductive ability, complex molecular structures and the metabolic replication of those structures. From there, Morange discusses a range of current inquiries, among them astrobiology research, genome studies and adaptation in extreme conditions. An informative and engaging tour of life, and our understanding of it, as a process "perpetually being transformed," this title should appeal to the more serious of armchair philosopher-scientists.
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“Morange approaches the question ‘what is life’ thoughtfully and with an open mind. He accepts what seems sensible and rejects that which is overblown or confusing.”—William C. Summers, Yale University
(William C. Summers)
“This book is remarkable for the clarity and soundness of its arguments, the fair and balanced way in which it presents controversial positions, and its unique capacity to map out unresolved questions.”—Bruno J. Strasser, Yale University
(Bruno J. Strasser)
"I won't give away Morange's thoughtful and persuasive payoff, but his demand that children undergo compulsory education in philosophy of science is energising."—The Guardian
Winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize in the category of non-fiction, given by the French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation.
(French-American Foundation Annual Translation Prize French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation
"This translation from the 2003 French release outlines in an easy-to-read style the deep issue of the nature of life. . . . Morange is at ease in getting across the historical, philosophical, and biological nuances of the long search for essential features that allow us to define life or living. . . . Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates, technical program students, and general readers."—Choice