Books  General Natural History  Philosophy, Ethics & Religion 

What is Life?: With 'Mind and Matter' and Autobiographical Sketches

Series: Canto Classics

By: Erwin Schrödinger (Author), Roger Penrose (Foreword By)

184 pages, b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Mar 2012 | #207599 | ISBN-13: 9781107604667
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £12.99 $16/€15 approx
Paperback | May 1992 | #17584 | ISBN: 0521427088
Out of Print Details

About this book

Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life? is one of the great science classics of the twentieth century. It was written for the layman, but proved to be one of the spurs to the birth of molecular biology and the subsequent discovery of DNA.

What is Life? appears here together with Mind and Matter, his essay investigating a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times. Brought together with these two classics are Schrödinger's autobiographical sketches, which offer a fascinating account of his life as a background to his scientific writings.

"This book is a gem with many facets [...] one can read it in a few hours; one will not forget it in a lifetime."
– Scientific American

"Erwin Schrödinger, iconoclastic physicist, stood at the pivotal point of history when physics was the midwife of the new science of molecular biology. In these little books he set down, clearly and concisely, most of the great conceptual issues that confront the scientist who would attempt to unravel the mysteries of life. This combined volume should be compulsory reading for all students who are seriously concerned with truly deep issues of science."
– Paul Davies

"[...] this remains a classic, written with great insight and modesty [...]"
– Human Nature Review


1. The classical physicist's approach to the subject
2. The hereditary mechanism
3. Mutations
4. The quantum-mechanical evidence
5. Delbruck's model discussed and tested
6. Order, disorder and entropy
7. Is life based on the laws of physics?
Epilogue: on determinism and free will

Mind and Matter:
1. The physical basis of consciousness
2. The future of understanding
3. The principle of objectivation
4. The arithmetical paradox: the oneness of mind
5. Science and religion
6. The mystery of the sensual qualities
Autobiographical sketches (translated from the German by Schrödinger's granddaughter Verena).

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