Fourth International and Interdisciplinary Workshop of the Jacques Loeb Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences at Ben-Gurion University, 13-14 June 2011

There is hardly any topic in biology, which has changed its content so drastically in history as that of origin of life. This include claims of panspermia – the continuity of life in the universe – as well as assumptions, first put forward by Aristotle, then repeated by the Church Fathers and by scientists until through the 19th century that some forms of life are spontaneously generated from non-living material. Since the question of the origin of life is inseparable from that of a particular conception of life, it affects today not only research into astrobiology and synthetic life, but, at least implicitly, most biological research.

The workshop will focus on origin of life on earth. It intends to address the question from a number of different scholarly and scientific perspectives, such as biblical studies, classical studies, history and philosophy of science, palaeontology, microbiology, biochemistry, macromolecular chemistry, synthetic biology, and evolutionary biology. We expect this interdisciplinary discussion to also bring forward new insights to the question of what is life.