Review: What Is Life? with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches

What Is Life? with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches
What Is Life? with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches by Erwin Schrödinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Erwin Schrodinger was an Austrian physicist, biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Darwinist, author, and professor (this list merely scratches the surface).

In this book, Schrodinger tackles the mystery of organic life. He discusses the application of universal physical laws on the organism, but points out that life has a way of working with its own rules as well.

His explanation and application of the laws of thermodynamics and statistical order are accessible to the layperson. His grasp of molecular science is impressive considering DNA had not been discovered at the time he wrote.

His essay, Mind and Matter, delves into the ageless questions about consciousness, experience, will, and memory. Interestingly, he approaches this scientific study with an Upanishadic mindset, pointing at a collective conscience, subjectivity of time, and inheritance of memory.

Schrodinger’s autobiographical bit at the end is rather incomplete. He unrepentantly acknowledges this fact. He begs off the question by saying a life can be rather boring and indicating that some parts would not go over well if he did share them. According to the brief research I performed, his life was far from boring. He opposed the Nazis and fled his country. He spent time with some of the great scientific minds and educational institutions of his time. He served in the military. His reluctance to record his romantic escapades probably would detract from the rest of his writings. I’ll leave it at saying he had a very open relationship with his wife.

Writing this brief review almost changed my rating from 3 to 4 stars. It probably deserves 4. I suspect I was personally put off by some of his metaphysical points and his claim that: “no special laws of nature, such as vis viva, or an entelechy, or a force of orthogenesis, etc., were at work in living organisms to abrogate or to counteract the universal laws of inanimate matter. This bothers me, because he admits that life is more than the sum of chemical and physical exchanges, the mind is more than electrochemical impulses, and that laws like entropy don’t seem to apply the same to organic life.

I find it interesting that authors who deny God’s hand in life often reinforce my conviction that the hand of God is in all things.

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About Jonathan

I am a man whose life has been profoundly changed by a beautiful woman, 5 amazing kids, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Leadership Education.
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