What is life? Narrowing the scope - Emily Parke

What is life? Narrowing the scope - Emily Parke
Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

Speaker: Emily Park

The nature of life has been debated for thousands of years. Surveys of the literature have counted over 100 proposed answers to the question "What is life?". Recently the literature has divided into some arguing for pluralist or pragmatic approaches, and others arguing that the project of characterising life is hopeless, pointless or otherwise doomed. Most discussions of the nature of life either overstate or understate the importance of the question “What is life?”, sometimes dramatically. Overstaters, for example, suggest that biology at large really needs an answer to this question; understaters think that the category of life does no work at all in science. This talk diagnoses several sources of overstatement, responds to a recent trend of understatement, and suggests a middle ground narrow view of why the category of life matters in science.

Please note that these seminars are open to the public and in person only.

Date & time

Thu 05 Oct 2023, 2:00pm to 3:30pm


Auditorium, Level 1, RSSS building, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601


Emily Parke


Sean Denahue


Updated:  26 September 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications