Life Forms Are Manifestations of the Biological Principle

Life on Earth shows extreme variability in forms and behavior. A physical object like a falling stone falls always in the same manner from the Pisa tower. In contrast, living organisms can behave very differently even within the same conditions. Moreover, living organisms show a behavior profoundly divergent from the physical one. We define physical behavior as the one governed by the laws ofphysics, with the given initial conditions (boundary conditions included). Similarly, we define biological behavior as the one governed by the Bauer principle, with the given initial conditions. The difference between biological and physical behavior can be demonstrated by an extended Galileo experiment in which a living bird dropped from a height follows a trajectory characteristically different from the trajectory determined by the free falling stone.

At present, the theoretical description of the most general laws of biological behavior seems to be unavailable. In the last decades, the general belief has been that all phenomena of any systems are determined by bottom-up laws of physics, ultimately, the action principle, governing the material building blocks of the given system. Nowadays the general view of scientists is that biological laws do not exist, but if they did, they would be mere byproducts of physical laws, and the reason for the different behavior of living organisms lies in their intractable complexity (Vogel and Angermann, 1988, 1). At variance with these widespread views, theoretical biology as an exact science has been founded by Ervin Bauer on the basis of the universal and invariable characteristics of living organisms (Bauer, 1935/1967).

Recently, Popa (2004, 170-172) presents a whole list of material-independent signatures of life. Such signatures are, for example, the recovery of energy lost by the living organism in performing work on itself, as internally controlled by specific mechanisms; that life forms use this energy to control their internal entropy level; the target-oriented nature of energy transduction, which is related to couplings that must exceed a certain minimal negentropic level in order to occur. As we will show here, the common characteristics of all life forms are rooted in the existence of the biological principle.

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