Modern biology portrays living systems, from the amoeba to the human organism, as mechanical toys shaped by the brute logic of natural selection. In "Reviving the Living": Meaning Making in Living Systems, Dr. Yair Neuman challenges the dogmas that frame our understanding of living systems and presents an alternative that avoids the pitfalls of non-scientific perspectives such as Vitalism and Creationism. In this thought provoking and iconoclastic manuscript, Dr. Neuman follows the footsteps of Gregory Bateson, Mikhail Bakhtin, Michael Polanyi and others, to suggest that living systems are "meaning making" systems. Dr. Neuman delves into the unique processes of meaning making that characterize organisms as a unique category of nature, and presents new and fascinating insights into a variety of enigmatic biological phenomena from immune memory to hidden life (cryptobiosis). Written by a polymath, Reviving the Living is a tour-de-force in interdisciplinary research which is of high interest to any reflective individual who is willing to examine the realm of the living from a novel and fascinating perspective.

Key Features

* Presents a novel perspective that relates to current biological knowledge and issues * Poses thought provoking ideas for theoretical biologists, those studying philosophy of science and the mind, cognitive scientists, semioticians, and people involved with Artificial Intelligence. * Includes examples based in current science to illustrate core concepts and themes


Biologists, philosophers, cognitive scientists, psychologists, semioticians, general audience


No. of pages:
© 2008
Elsevier Science
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:

About the editor

Yair Neuman

Affiliations and Expertise

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel


"Neuman's approach is an ingenious way to introduce an issue…" "A compilation of highly interesting topic that will undoubtedly transform the way readers think about organisms". Angewandte Chemie International 2009.

"This enthusiastically written and thought-provoking book … challenges dogmas of received wisdom such as reductionism, both mechanical and genetic… Neuman’s observations about the fallacy of sacrificing real-world properties in the interest of formal tractability are of great importance to systems thinkers, analysts, and modelers in various application areas, who wish to avoid serious failures in their work".  Computing Reviews 2009 (an ACM Review Journal)

"Neuman presents a fascinating analysis of biological interactions that aims to transcend the sort of billiard-ball model of causation that seems to be presupposed by the reductionists who are his target… Neuman has put the issues into what seems to be a more appropriate context, and that is a splendid accomplishment". Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 2009.