An Exploration of the Concept of Life in Biology and Ṣadrian Theosophy

Document Type: Scholary

Author

Associate Professor, the Department of Islamic Philosophy and Theology, the University of Qom, Qom, Iran

Abstract

The nature of life has obsessed the philosophers and scientists for long. One of the sciences that has a very close relationship with the concept of life is biology. Biology uses two approaches to address the concept of life: the list-oriented and the science-oriented. In the list-oriented approach, the definite distinction between living and non-living beings is accepted and different lists of the features of the livening beings are provided. In the science-oriented approach, which is a better way to achieve the concept of life, the aim is to define life within a network of existing concepts of a specific field of science. In transcendental theosophy, life is viewed as a type of existence, and by the consideration of the being and life as concomitant, the life hierarchy is equaled to the existence hierarchy, and no distinct line can be drawn between living and non-living things. In this article we try to answer the question that if science and philosophy have any relationship or similarity in the exploration of the concept of life. The findings of the study demonstrate that although the question of life is investigated in philosophy as a transcendental issue and in biology as a material one, a general-specific relationship can be made between science and philosophy in defining the concept of life in the natural world domain.

Keywords


Bedau, M. (1996), «The Nature of life». In the Philosophy of artificial life, ed. M. Boden, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 332-357.

Caravita, S. and E. Falchetti, (2005), «Are bones alive?» Journal of Biological Education, No. 39, pp. 163-170.

Dezhākām, L. & M. ‘Abāszādeh Jahrumī (2009), «Life from the viewpoint of the Qur’ān and the Western and Eastern philosophers». ‘Ulūm wa Ma‘ārif Qur’ān Karīm Quarterly, No. 3, pp. 35-50.

Dobzhanzky, T. (1973), «Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution». American Biology Teacher, No. 35, pp. 125-129.

Durant, W. (1991), The pleasures of philosophy. Translated by ‘Abbās Zaryāb, Tehran, Islamic Revolution Publications and Education.

El-Hani, k. N. (2008), «Theory-oriented approaches to the concept of life». Translated by Muḥammad Kirām al-dīnī, Teaching Biology, No. 4, pp. 147-149.

Emmeche, C. (1997), «Autopoietic systems, replicators and the search for a meaningful biologic definition of life». Ultimate Reality and Meaning, No. 20, 244, 264.

Fakhr Rāzī, M. (1986), Al-Arba‘īn fī Uṣūl al-Dīn. Edited by Aḥmad Hijāzī Saqqā, Cairo, n.p.

Fārābī, M. (1926), Rasā’il Fārābī. Ḥeidarābād, Dakan.

Hopkins, F. G. (1949), «The dynamic side of biochemistry». Needham and Baldwin, pp. 136-159.

Ibn Sīnā, Ḥ. (1984), Al-Mabda’ wa al-ma‘ād. Edited by ‘Abdullāh Nūrā’ī, Tehran, the University of Tehran Press.

Id. (1985), Al-Najat min al-gharq fī baḥr al-ḍalālāt. Tehran, Muḥammad Taqī Dāneshpazhūh.

Id. (2000), Al-Ta‘līqāt. Qom, the office of Islamic Preaching Publications.

Id. (1965), Al-Shifā (Al-tabī‘īyyāt). Cairo, n.p.

Ījī, A. (n.d.), Al-Mawāqif fī ‘ilm al-kalām. Beirut, ‘Ālim al-Kubut.

Ja‘farī Tabrīzī, M. T. (2010), Interpretation, evaluation, and analysis of Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī's  Mathnawī. Tehran, the Institute of the Development and Publication of the Works of ‘Allāmah Muḥammad Taqī Ja‘farī.

Id. (1997), Translation and interpretation of Nahj al-Balāgha. Tehran, Office of Islamic Culture Publications.

Jeuken, M. (1975), «The Biological and Philosophical Definitions of life», Acta Biotheoretica, xxiv (1-2), Institute for Theoretical Biology of the State University, Stationsweg 25, Leiden, Netherland, pp.14-21.

Jeuken, M. (1975), «The Biological and Philosophical definitions of life», Acta  Biotheoretica, vol. 24 (1-2), pp.14-21.

Joyce, G. F. (2012), The RNA World: life before DNA and Protein. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Jurjānī, A. (1988), Kitāb al-ta‘rīfāt. Beirut, n.p.

Langton, C. G. (1989), «Artificial life», In Longton, C. G (ed).Artificial Life: Proceedings of an interdisciplinary workshop on the synthesis and simulation of living systems (held September 1987 Los Alamos , New Mexico, Vol. VI.in Santa Fe Institute studies in the Sciences of complexity), Addison-Wesley: Reading , MA, 1-47.

Mautner, M. N. (2004), Seeding The Universe with life: Securing our Cosmological Future. Virginia Commonwealth University, legacy Books.

Mckay, C. P. (2004), «What is life – and How Do we search for It in others world?» Plos Biology, 2 (2 “9”).

Ṣadr al-Muti’allihīn Shīrāzī, M. (1975), Al-Mabda’ wa al-Ma‘ād. Edited by Jalāl al-Dīn Āshtīyānī, Tehran, n.p.

Id. (1984), Mafātīḥ al-ghayb. Edited by ‘Alī Nūrī, Tehran, n.p.

Id. (2008), Al-Shawāhid al-rubūbīyyah. Translated by ‘Alī Bābā’ī, Tehran, Mawlā Publications.

Id. (1981), Al- Ḥikmat al-muta‘ālīyah fī al-asfār al-‘aqlīyyah al-arba‘ah. Beirut, Dār Iḥyā’ al-Turāth al-‘Arabī.

Sajjādī, J. (1996), A dictionary of philosophical and theological terms. Tehran, Amīr Kabīr.

Ṣalībā, J. (1994), Al-Mu‘jam al-falsafī bil-alfāẓ al-‘Arabīyyah wa al-Farinsīyyah wa al-Inkilīzīyyah wa al-lātīnīyyah. Beirut, Dār al-Kutub al-Lubnānī.

Schrödinger E. (1994), What is life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Shahrzūrī, Sh. M. (1993), Sharḥ ḥikmat al-ishrāq. Edited by Ḥusein Ḍīyā’ī, Tehran, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies.

Sober, E. (1993), Philosophy of Biology. Oxford, Oxford University press.

Suhriwardī, Y. (2001), The collection of Shaykh Ishrāq's writings. Edited by Najafqulī Ḥabībī, Tehran, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies.

Surūsh, A. (1982), Knowledge and value. Tehran, Yārān Publications.

Ṭabāṭabā’ī, M. ῌ. (1995), Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qur’ān. Translated by Muḥammad Bāqir Mūsawī Hamidānī Qom, the Office of Islamic Guidance.

Id. (1993), Nihāyat al-ḥikmah. Qom, the Institute of Islamic publications.

Tahānawī, M. A. (1996), Mawsū‘ah kashsh āf Iṣṭilāḥāt al-funūn wa al-‘ulūm. Beirut, n.p.

Zalta, E. N. (2011), «life», In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Zimmer C. (2012), Can Scientists define life … Using Just Three words? (www.answers.com/topic/life).