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Mankind and the Planet, past, present and future Philosophical Speculations
A possibility that belongs to a whole together with other possibilities will, if it is a conspicuous possibility, i.e., differing from the rest, become a pre-eminent characteristic of that whole. Everything that is implied or contained in a whole characterises the whole and is an attribute of it. If something implied is conspicuous for its exceptionality, this exceptional feature becomes a feature of the whole in a pre-eminent way. Applying this principle, we can say: if life is implied as a possibility
in the universe, life is an attribute of the universe as a whole. That does not mean that the non-living is living, but that it has the disposition that gives rise to life. The disposition that gives rise to life is a characteristic of the whole 'anorganic' matter. The disposition that gives rise to life is co-incident with (its) non-living character, in the empirical sense of non-living; at the same time, that disposition indicates a sense of the term 'living', to be attributed to the rest of matter, i.e., it is co-incident with 'living' in the cosmological sense. Thus, the universe is no 'organism' in the empirical sense of the word; but, since it is structured so as to give rise to organisms, this extreme possibility belongs to its pre-eminent characteristics.
Here,again, a quantitative aspect may be noted: 'life' entails the organisation of a vast number of elements within a small space. The relation of the number of elements to the space they occupy may be seen as a measure of the level of that organisation. 'Life', in general is, in a way, a quantitative phenomenon in the sense that the range of spatial and temporal conditions that enable the right elements to combine is, in itself, a measure of different levels of life. In other words:
Thus, compared with the state of dispersal of a number of elements, life is a concentration-phenomenon; life increases as space diminishes. And, compared with the actual life of an organised whole, the level of life of a part of such an organised whole is lower than the life of the whole.