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Article
October 8, 1927

AN ESSAY ON LIVING MATTER

JAMA. 1927;89(15):1252-1253. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02690150062019
Abstract

In his classic book on the Principles of General Physiology, the late Sir William M. Bayliss wrote that if he were asked to define life he would be inclined to do as Poinsot, the mathematician, did. The latter, according to a story of Claude Bernard, ramarked: "If any one asked me to define time, I should reply: 'Do you know what it is that you speak of?' If he said 'Yes,' I should say, 'Very well, let us talk about it.' If he said 'No,' I should answer, 'Very well, let us talk about something else.'" The great French physiologist himself has said that the living being breaks no concord; it is neither in contradiction to nor struggling against general cosmic forces; far from that, it forms a member of the universal concert of things, and the life of the animal, for example, is only a fragment of the total

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