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Unformatted text preview: The Nature of Life I. Defining life isnt easy. A. Vitalism describes an old-fashioned attempt at defining the difference between something that is alive and something that is not alive. 1. Vitalists believed that living things contained a something unique to lifesomething not possessed by anything not living. They called this unique thing the vital spark or vital principle . 2. This vital principle couldnt be seen, smelled, heard touched, captured, transferred, stored or manipulated in any way. It was supposedly simply something that living things have and non-living things dont have. 3. There are two major problems with the vitalist approach to defining life. a. This is clearly a supernatural concept, and thus not very scientific. Its also pretty useless. b. Its also a tautology , or circular argument. How do you define life? Living things possess a vital spark. Whats a vital spark? Whatever it is that makes something alive. Again, a useless definition....
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This note was uploaded on 12/06/2011 for the course BIO 101 taught by Professor Lynnj.fancher during the Spring '05 term at College of DuPage.
- Spring '05