What is life?

Science, Order, and Creativity by Bohm & Peat

This is a post in my organizing “between and beyond” series. Other posts are here.
Science, Order, and Creativity by David Bohm and F. David Peat is a very interesting book which I warmly recommend! Here is my book review. The chapter on “What is order?”1 is particularly interesting in relation to the question: What is life? The following is based on this chapter, but with a focus on life itself.

Whatever we say life is, it isn’t
There can be no complete definition of life. Whatever we say life is, it isn’t.2 There is always something more than what we say and something different. At a given time, it is possible to abstract a certain notion as relevant and appropriate. But later, as the context is made broader, the limits and validity of this abstraction are seen and new notions developed. In the future, as the context is extended even further, still newer notions of life may arise.

Life is an order of orders
Life itself is based on order, but involves much more. It must always be remembered that, at a deeper level, attention must be given to the whole, which, in turn, acts to guide life. Life has a complex and subtle order of infinite complexity and subtlety. The various suborders in life are all arranged, connected, and organized together. Each suborder is clearly inseparable from the greater whole. Life is, therefore, orders of order.

1 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010-09-01, first published 1987-10-01), pp. 97–147.
2 Korzybski said that “whatever we say anything is, it isn’t” No analogy is equivalent to the object itself. Every analogy is limited. And if what we way is an analogy, then the object cannot be what we say. There is always room for newer and better analogies. Ibid., p. 145.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Published by Jan Höglund

Jan Höglund has over 35 years of experience in different roles as software developer, project manager, line manager, consultant, and researcher. He shares his reading, book reviews, and learning on his personal blog.

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