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Abstract

Although definitions of the meaning of “life” are various, none recognizes the importance of context. A partial explanation of the attribution of “life” only to organisms is the fact that the ecosphere–the context and source of organisms–has, until recently, been invisible. Further, the metaphorical nature of abstract language has conflated “organisms” and “life.” But just as the living parts of an organism depend on the vitality of the whole, so living organisms depend on the energetics of planet Earth from which they evolved and by which they are maintained. From an ecological viewpoint, planet Earth, the inclusive supra-organic ecosphere, is a logical metaphor for “life.”