My favorite definition of life comes from evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulies: “Life is matter with the capacity to choose.”
The intricate self-organizing structure of Earth’s biosphere is the product of life’s extraordinary 3.5 billion year evolutionary quest to explore and expand the possibilities of its capacity to choose. The result is a complex and highly sophisticated fractal structure of nested, self-reliant, progressively smaller-scale ecosystems, each exquisitely adapted to its particular place on Earth to optimize the capture of energy to sustain matter in a living choice-making state.
To this end, trillions upon trillions of cells, organisms, and communities of organisms engage in an exquisite continuing dance of cooperative exchange. Each participant in this dance maintains its own identity and vitality while contributing to the needs of its neighbors and to the balance, stability, and resilience of the whole.
We humans, with our extraordinary capacity for choice, are a product of this wondrous process. In our species’ immaturity, however, our dominant cultures have forgotten that our individual and collective well-being depends on the well-being of the whole. We must now step to a new level of species maturity, redesign the culture and institutions of our economic system to mimic the structure and dynamics of the biosphere, and learn to live by life’s rules. It is an epic test of our human capacity for learning, creative innovation, self-organization, and individual and collective choice.
full article – http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/david-korten/learning-from-the-biosphere