Thermodynamics, organisms and behaviour

Benjamin De Bari, James Dixon, Dilip Kondepudi, Ashwin Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The physical origin of behaviour in biological organisms is distinct from those of non-living systems in one significant way: organisms exhibit intentionality or goal-directed behaviour. How may we understand and explain this important aspect in physical terms, grounded in laws of physics and chemistry? In this article, we discuss recent experimental and theoretical progress in this area and future prospects of this line of thought. The physical basis for our investigation is thermodynamics, though other branches of physics and chemistry have an important role. This article is part of the theme issue 'Thermodynamics 2.0: Bridging the natural and social sciences (Part 1)'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20220278
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2252
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2023


  • dissipative structures
  • end-directed evolution
  • machine conception of living organisms
  • machine paradigm of organism
  • self-healing
  • self-organization


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