First published 2 September 2013
The emergence of life and evolution: Towards a categorical approach
Among the list of proposed questions in "Open Problems in Artificial Life" (Bedau et al. 2000) the first, "how does life arise from the nonliving?" is certainly one of the most difficult to answer. The first and main challenge in the understanding of the way that life emerged from the nonliving comes from our lack of knowledge of the living organism and paradoxically, the limitations which we impose to it, so that what we call organism remains a stillborn entity at best. The second challenge is creating a formal language suited to represent the organism while taking into account all its quantitative and qualitative characteristics.
Consequently, to progress in the understanding of the organism, it is first essential to integrate two data. The first one being that both the questions "what is the living?" and "how does the living arise?" are connected. In other words, before being able to apprehend correctly the emergence of life, it would be necessary to know how to model it, almost through a theoretical biology approach. The second datum is related to finding an appropriate language which is capable of describing the organism in all its dimensions.
In this present work, we want to find answers to the first list of Bedau's questions through a more integrative definition of the living which enables us to think of its mode of emergence from the nonliving in a coextensive way. For this, we propose a categorical model of the organism. This seems to be the most suitable language at the current stage of knowledge in describing such a phenomenon.