Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science

Volume 9, Issue 2, Septiembre 1994

Ciaus Emmeche
Pages 1-30

The Computational Notion of Life

The present paper discusses a topic often neglected by contemporary philosophy of biology: The relation between metaphorical notions of living organisms as information processing systems, the attempts to model such systems by computational means (e.g., Artificial Life research), and the idea that life itself is a computational phenomenon. This question has ramifications in theoretical biology and the definition of Iife, in theoretical computer science and the concept of computation, and in semiotics (the study of signs in the most general sense, including information, signification, and meaning), and the concept of the interpreter. It is argued, that the theory of autopoietic systems known from theoretical biology should be integrated with a biosemiotic reflection on the natural history of signs.