‘What is Life’ – a concise Summary of E. Shrodinger’s book, including my comments.
I think Shrödinger is saying that life and the life processes that support life are deterministic. By that, he means non-random, mechanical in the sense that life and the life-supporting processes (such as metabolism) are processes that are ordered, reproducible and machine-like. As such, life can not be described by the present physics which is statistical and describes an average behaviour of many, many small constituents (atoms and molecules). Shrödinger sees a gene as a kind of
molecule, an ordered entity that maintains its structure in a sea of thermal fluctuations and atomic impingement. Shrödinger sees genes as the ‘creator’ (or a blueprint) of life. Building life is a process of building order from preexisting order (an organism created from genes).
In the epilogue, Shrödinger proposes that life and a living organism are an expression of a godlike control of the body’s fundamental constituents, the atoms. Perhaps he means that life is a manifestation of some Universe’s creativity?
Shrodinger talks about consciousness and argues that it is not plural. ( I think he means that it is not shared and that it is individual). Shrödinger posits that ‘I’, the self is a container of personal experiences and memories.
A few important questions are reiterated here:
What are the fundamental differences between matter and life? Clearly, life is built from matter, is it just an inevitable step of evolution that matter becomes organized in such a way that it becomes an entity that can extract energy from its environment, can grow in size and can duplicate or
propagate? Does this new level of matter require a ‘spark’, divine or other, or is it just a natural progression of matter formation and arrangement? What will be the next evolutionary step? Is consciousness the quality that distinguishes life from matter? Is it a characteristic of a living
organism or is it something that a living organism can access, and tap into it? Are there different levels of consciousness? Are we, humans progressing towards a higher level of consciousness? What will it be? Perhaps consciousness is some cosmic connectivity, some metaphysical thing that coexists with our physical world, or is it an integral part of our world, something like time and space?
The full summary can be downloaded at What is life .