About Life – The Meaning of Everything

The most famous of all the books about life is Darwin’s The Origin of Species. This book has helped shape the way we think about life all around the world. Much of this thinking is motivated by the idea that all living things are an accident, arising through a process that started with single cells on the early earth, then through species migration, specialization, and Selection to become the diverse complex systems we have today.

about life

The trouble with this view is that it reduces everything to a race to make life meaningful. It forgets or at least minimizes the multiple facets of a being, which includes each of its particular ways of existing in the world. It forgets to recognize that the very definition of life is determined by how it works within the causal unfolding of reality and that even a single cell can be seen as having a meaning apart from the sum of its parts. For instance, the particular ways in which different cells express themselves in cells is not what makes life meaningful, while the particular ways in which the parts of a cell come together to form a complete structure is what does.

The best way to make life meaningful is to realize that each aspect of the cell is itself a function of the whole, and that the parts are but one aspect of the overall functioning organism. A part may stand out because it contributes to the organism’s ability to grow, reproduce, and maintain itself, while disregarding other aspects that make up the totality of its composition. To see these functions as meaningful is to see each one as a potential contributing factor toward the well-being of the whole. The effect of a single change in one aspect of the cell, for instance, can ripple into many others, each contributing to the well-being of the organism as a whole.